Published : 2020-01-30

The Court of Justice, the National Courts, and the Controversy over the ‘Ultimate Arbiter’ of the Constitutionality of Law in the European Union

Section: Studies


The paper addresses the issue of a judicial forum entitled to resolve conflicts between European Union law and national constitutional rules. First and foremost, the issue is discussed under the old primacy/supremacy of EU law controversy. The author seeks to answer whether the national law, including constitutional rules, of a Member State can be ineffective owing to being contradictory to EU law. If so, by whom can national laws be held ineffective? In other words, which of the two judicial fora (national and European) have the last word in these conflicts or who is the ultimate arbiter of the constitutionality of law within the European legal space? The author argues that legal reasoning should reconcile, on the one hand, the specificity of the EU’s unique legal order and effective application of its provisions and, on the other hand, the international legal status of the Member States and their constitutions. This approach leads to the conclusion that there is no ultimate judicial arbiter within the European legal space.


European Union law primacy ; ultimate arbiter of constitutionality ; European Union constitution ; Court of Justice of the European Union ; national constitutions ; national constitutional courts


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