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New Horizons for the Rule of Law Within the EU

  • Koen Lenaerts
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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President of the Court of Justice of the European Union and Professor of European Union Law, Leuven University. All opinions expressed herein are personal to the author.

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1 Case 26/62, Van Gend en Loos v. Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen, ECLI:EU:C:1963:1, Judgment of 5 Feb. 1963.

2 Id.

3 See, e.g., Case C-619/18, Comm’n v. Poland (Independence of the Supreme Court), 2019 E.C.R. 531, para. 47. See also Opinion 1/09, Agreement Creating a Unified Patent Litigation System, 2011 E.C.R. 123, para. 66; Case C-583/11 P, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Others v. Parliament and Council, 2013 E.C.R. 625, para. 90; Case C-456/13 P, T & L Sugars and Sidul Açúcares v. Comm’n, 2015 E.C.R. 284, para. 45.

4 See, e.g., Case 222/84, Johnston v. Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, 1986 E.C.R. 206.

5 See, e.g., Case C-409/06, Winner Wetten GmbH v. Bürgermeisterin der Stadt Bergheim, 2010 E.C.R. 503, para. 61 (holding that “[r]ules of national law, even of a constitutional order, cannot be allowed to undermine the unity and effectiveness of Union law”). See also Case 11/70, Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH v. Einfuhr- und Vorratsstelle für Getreide und Futtermittel, 1970 E.C.R. 114, para. 3.

6 See Case C-213/89, The Queen v. Secretary of State for Transport, ex parte: Factortame Ltd. and others, 1990 E.C.R. 257; Case 106/77, Amministrazione delle Finanze dello Stato v. Simmenthal SpA, 1978 E.C.R. 49; Joined Cases C-46/93 & 48/93, Brasserie du Pêcheur v. Germany, 1996 E.C.R. 79.

7 Opinion 2/13, Accession of the European Union to the ECHR, 2014 E.C.R. 2454, para. 176; see also Case C-284/16, Achmea, 2018 E.C.R. 158, para. 37.

8 See, e.g., Kakouris, Constantinos, Do the Member States Possess Judicial Procedural Autonomy?, 34 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 1389, 1389–112 (1997); Prechal, Sacha, Community Law in National Courts: The Lessons from Van Schijndel, 35 Common Mkt. L. Rev 681, 681706 (1998); van Gerven, Walter, Of Rights, Remedies and Procedures, 37 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 501, 501–36 (2000). See also MichaelDougan, National Remedies Before the Court of Justice: Issues of Harmonisation and Differentiation (2004).

9 See, for example, Joined Cases C-110/98 to 147/98, Gabalfrisa and Others, 2000 E.C.R. 145, which is now under consideration in Case C-274/14 Banco de Santander (pending). See Opinion of Advocate General Hogan, Case C-274/14, Banco de Santander, (Sept. 24, 2019).

10 Von Danwitz, Thomas, Values and the Rule of Law: Foundations of the European Union–An Inside Perspective from the ECJ, 21 Potchefstroom Electronic L.J. 1, 117 (2018).

11 Case C-621/18, Wightman and Others, 2018 E.C.R. 999, para. 63. See also Comm’n v. Poland, Case C-619/18 at para. 42.

12 See Adamski, Dariusz, The Social Contract of Democratic Backsliding in the “New EU” Countries, 56 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 623, 623–66 (2019).

13 See The Federalist No. 78 (Alexander Hamilton).

14 Case C-64/16, Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, 2018 E.C.R. 117.

15 Id. at para. 29.

16 Id. at paras. 37–38.

17 Id. at para. 43.

18 Case C-216/18, Minister for Justice and Equality (Deficiencies in the system of justice), 2018 E.C.R. 586, paras. 58–59.

19 Id. at para. 48.

20 Lenaerts, Koen, Limits on Limitations: The Essence of Fundamental Rights in the EU, 20 German L. J. 783, 779–93 (2019).

21 Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, Case C-64/16 at para. 45; Case C-49/18, Escribano Vindel, 2019 E.C.R. 106, para. 66.

22 Minister for Justice and Equality, Case C-216/18 at para. 66.

23 Id.

24 Id.

25 Id. at para. 67.

26 Comm’n v. Poland, Case C-619/18 at para. 76.

27 Id.

28 Id. at para. 52.

29 To name just a few, see Case C-192/18, Comm’n v. Poland (pending); Joined Cases C-558/18 & 563/18, Miasto Łowicz (pending); Joined Cases C-83/19, 127/19 & 195/19, Asociaţia “Forumul Judecătorilor Din România” (pending); Case C-272/19 Land Hessen (pending); and Case C-564/19 IS (pending).

30 The fact that Poland repealed the law that was under consideration in Commission v. Poland—before the Court of Justice ruled on that case—is a positive sign in that regard. See Case C-619/18 R, Comm’n v. Poland, 2018 E.C.R. 1021, paras. 27–31.

* President of the Court of Justice of the European Union and Professor of European Union Law, Leuven University. All opinions expressed herein are personal to the author.

New Horizons for the Rule of Law Within the EU

  • Koen Lenaerts

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