A reticent court ? : policy objectives and the Court of Justice
Title: A reticent court ? : policy objectives and the Court of Justice
Author: CREMONA, Marise
Citation: Marise CREMONA and Anne THIES (eds), The European Court of Justice and external relations law : constitutional challenges, Oxford : Hart Publishing, 2014, Modern studies in European Law, pp. 15-32
ISBN: 9781849465045; 9781782253259
This chapter examines the role that the Court of Justice has assumed — as evidenced by the approach taken in its case law — in relation to the Union’s external policy objectives. The starting point is an observation: the Court appears to be reticent (non-interventionist) if not deferential as regards the policy choices of the political institutions in external relations. It tends to take those choices at face value (basing itself on statements in legal instruments and policy documents); it does not question them, nor seek to define or shape them. More than this, it emphasises the need for the political institutions to retain their policy discretion, their room for manoeuvre. This is in contrast to its interventionist – if not activist – stance in relation to the definition of the scope of EU external competence and its implications for Member States, and its ‘gatekeeper’ — if not defensive — role in relation to the status of international law within in the EU legal system (roles which are explored in other contributions). The chapter seeks to establish a workable framework to understand this approach of the Court to EU external policy objectives by identifying some of the characteristics of those external objectives, and then placing the case law in the context of the Court’s approach to EU internal policy objectives and to institutional and competence-related issues in external relations. Its conclusion is that the Court, in the field of external relations, does not itself define the Union’s objectives, nor derive them from the Treaty. It accepts them as defined by the political institutions and then uses the jurisdiction it exercises over the respective competences and obligations of the institutions and the Member States to enforce them.
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