The Court of Justice as a Decisionmaking Authority

Eric Stein, to whom this Article is dedicated, has written a number of commentaries on the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice on the basis of his experience with both the European continental law and the common law systems. In conformity with his pragmatic approach, the following examination of the Court of Justice as a decisionmaking authority devotes less attention to the theoretical context than to the manner in which the Court attempts to accomplish its task in practice. This essay is intended to provide a judge’s point of view, that is to say, a subjective contribution on the basis of personal experience gained up to the present time. Although of course duties of office impose limitations on such an approach, it is nonetheless possible to set down a number of conclusions.

The first section discusses problems concerning the decisionmaking process, in order to clarify the conditions under which the Court of Justice must form its opinions. There will then follow some observations on the manner in which the Court finds the substantive principles on which to base its decisions. Finally, certain conclusions regarding the appraisal of the case law will be drawn.