An internet compendium on important decisions of the European Court of Justice and the constitutional courts of the member states
Overviews with direct links to the decisions. Also for download. Designed to support deeper studies and the preparation of exams, but also for quick orientation.
Note on the amendments brought by the Treaty of Lisbon: References to the Treaties indicate both the old provisions (with the old numbering valid at the time of the decision) and the new provisions (with the new numbering according to the Treaty of Lisbon). Note the changes in terminology: Where the Courts previously spoke about "Community law", now the correct term is "Union law". With the Treaty of Lisbon, the distinction between Community law and Union law has been abandoned. The European Court of Justice is now officially called "Court of Justice of the European Union".
In European Union law, the judiciary plays a more important role in the development of law than in most national legal systems. Many central legal norms and legal institutions are not based on specific provisions in the founding treaties but have been elaborated by the European Court of Justice during decades of legal practice. This is true in particular for the important general principles of Community law (now: Union law). Even the foundations of the European legal order and the essential obligations of the member states when implementing and enforcing Union law are often only revealed by the jurisprudence. Nevertheless, the law of the European Union is not a case-law system such as Anglo-American law. It is rooted in the continental legal tradition. For a European jurist of the 21st century it is essential to know the European jurisprudence and to know how to work with it. He must be able to understand the dogmatic context, to assess the significance and practical relevance of the decisions, to question the applied methods and to evaluate the contents. Diagram 1 on the "Important decisions of the European Court of Justice" shall provide an easy access and a quick orientation, thus facilitating deeper studies.
However, European integration must not be seen "from the top" only. It takes place primarily in the member states, where the law of the Union is implemented into reality. Within the national legal orders, the constitutions and thus the constitutional courts play a predominant role. The participation in the process of European integration has lead to an Europeanisation of constitutional law and to a reduced significance of the domestic constitutions, since the unity of Union law requires the primacy of Union law over national law, including national constitutional law. In many member states, the constitutional courts had to decide on problems caused by the integration - on possible conflicts and necessary amendments to the Constitution, on the constitutional bases and limits of obedience to Union law (and its interpretation by the European Court of Justice), on the domestic decision-making processes in matters of integration and on their own role as guardians of the national fundamental values and ideas enshrined in the constitution. Many judgements have caused vivid discussions in legal science, both on the national and international level. Recently, this was the case with the Lisbon judgements of the French, Czech, Latvian, German, Hungarian and Polish constitutional courts. Diagram 2 on the "Constitutional jurisprudence in the member state on the participation in the process of European integration" provides for an overview over this develeopment. It draws among others on the fruits of the Symposiums "Verfassungsrechtsprechung zwischen Souveränität und Integration" (2007, 2008 and 2009) at the University of Latvia.
University courses for advanced students serve to promote a deeper understanding (until now: Univ. of Göttingen, Winter Semester 2003/04, Univ. of Latvia, 2007 - 2010). Furthermore, the bibliography provides for an easy access to the abundance of - often enthralling - pertinent legal literature.
Diagram 1: Important decisions of the European
Court of Justice
(updated edition 2011)
Diagram 2: Constitutional
jurisprudence in the member states on the participation in the process of
(updated and enlarged edition 2012; with contributions from Thomas Schmitz, Giulia Rossolillo, Giorgos Christonakis, Julia Laffranque, Piotr Czarny, Harald Christian Scheu and Ola Zetterquist)
Rīga Symposiums "Verfassungsrechtsprechung zwischen Souveränität und
(University of Latvia, 2007, 2008, 2009; in Latvian and German language, many materials also available in English)
Course "Jurisprudence on European integration"
(last course in English in Spring Semester 2009 at the University of Latvia)