Il Diritto dell'Unione EuropeaEISSN 2465-2474 / ISSN 1125-8551
G. Giappichelli Editore


stampa articolo indice fascicolo leggi articolo leggi fascicolo

Seventy years of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Judicial Activism and Judicial Wisdom (di Silvana Sciarra)

This paper, delivered for the celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of the Court of Justice of the European Union, offers some considerations on the preliminary ruling procedure in light of the current phase of the European integration process. Arguing on the pivotal role played by national courts, three main points are put forward. First, it is held that some of the early criticism can be looked at now from a different perspective, due to new challenges to the rule of law. Second, it is suggested that the cooperation prompted by references for preliminary ruling is of primary importance not only for strengthening the European identity but also to guarantee full respect of national identities. Third, such cooperation mechanism has been used by the Court to enhance the EU system of protection of fundamental rights. The ‘trajectory’ of the preliminary reference procedure briefly outlined offers some new insights on the Court’s approach to the use of this tool during these first seventy years. In this regard, the expression ‘judicial wisdom’ is suggested in lieu of that of ‘judicial activism’, often associated with negative connotations.

Keywords: Preliminary Reference – National Identity – Cooperation among Courts.

Settant'anni di Corte di giustizia dell'Unione europea. Attivismo e saggezza giudiziari

Lo scritto, presentato durante le celebrazioni per il 70° anniversario della Corte di giustizia dell’Unione europea, offre alcune riflessioni in merito al procedimento pregiudiziale alla luce dell’attuale fase del processo di integrazione europea. Nel riflettere sul ruolo centrale svolto dalle corti nazionali, si sottolineano tre punti principali. In primo luogo, viene evidenziata la necessità di riconsiderare alcune delle critiche iniziali, alla luce della recente messa in discussione del valore dello Stato di diritto. In secondo luogo, si guarda alla primaria importanza che la cooperazione inerente al meccanismo del rinvio pregiudiziale riveste non solo per il rafforzamento di una identità europea, ma anche per garantire il pieno rispetto delle identità nazionali degli Stati membri. In terzo luogo, si osserva la centralità dello strumento pregiudiziale nell’ottica del rafforzamento e sviluppo del sistema di tutela dei diritti fondamentali dell’Unione. La traiettoria disegnata dalla procedura di rinvio pregiudiziale nel corso del processo di integrazione offre infine alcuni nuovi spunti di riflessione sull’utilizzo che di questo strumento ha fatto durante questi primi settanta anni la Corte. A questo proposito, in luogo di ‘attivismo giudiziario’ – espressione spesso associata a connotazioni negative – si suggerisce di parlare di ‘saggezza giudiziaria’.

Parole chiave: Rinvio pregiudiziale – Identità nazionale – Cooperazione fra corti.

It is a great honor for me to speak in this opening session, during a most evocative celebration of the Court of Justice of the European Union. From a personal experience, I can add with no hesitation – despite some initial worry about increased wrinkles – that to be seventy-year-old is a wonderful time in life, to joy in an ongoing search for a deeper knowledge of oneself and greater confidence in future achievements. I argue in my presentation that this is the self-analysis the Court of Justice is currently undergoing. The outcome of such a complex exercise is also due to the cooperation of national courts in preliminary references, with a special emphasis to be acknowledged whenever constitutional and supreme courts take the lead. Constitutional courts are in the position to create unforeseen threads of integration: as courts of last instance, they also act as guardians of national constitutional identities. They are pillars supporting the European building and they should, because of this responsibility, disseminate common European visions. In particular, the ‘identity clause’ assigns to national constitutional courts the highest responsibility in concretizing the spirit of mutual cooperation. The point to be made is that national identities are protected not against Europe, but because of Europe: there is a need to open up a constant and evolving interaction, based on common values. Preliminary references must play a role in pushing the CJEU towards enhanced coherence, with a view to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. Celebrations often involve a short analysis of the past, with an immediate projection into the future. Since we are discussing preliminary references, memories go to leading cases which have contributed to shape the European legal order and have set the scene for the current discussion. No need to quote them before such a distinguished audience. But it is noteworthy that the Court itself quotes them in recent judgments, as if this thread of continuity should help to fortify its responsibility and display coherence as a qualifying element of its own reasoning. In RS, for example, Van Gend & Loos is mentioned to recollect that ‘unlike standard international treaties, the Community Treaties established a new legal order, integrated into the legal systems of the Member States on the entry into force of the Treaties and which is binding on their courts’. [1] Costa and the well-known passage mentioning the ‘Community’s own legal system’ is also quoted, to remind all of us that reciprocity among Member states ‘means, as a corollary, that they cannot accord precedence to a unilateral and subsequent measure over that legal system or rely on rules of national law of any kind against the law stemming from the EEC Treaty’. [2] In early discussions on preliminary references commentators put forward concerns – as well as appreciation – [continua..]

» Per l'intero contenuto effettuare il login