Current practices with regard to the interpretation of multilingual EU law : how to deal with diverging language versions?
Title: Current practices with regard to the interpretation of multilingual EU law : how to deal with diverging language versions?
Author: VAN DER JEUGHT, Stefaan
Citation: European journal of legal studies, 2018, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 5-38
External link: https://ejls.eui.eu/
European Union (EU) law is equally authentic in 24 language versions. While this multilingualism enhances legal certainty by enabling individuals to ascertain their rights and duties under EU law in their own language, it paradoxically also reduces legal certainty, as it entails that full trust may not be placed in any single language version of EU law. Indeed, according to the settled case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the true meaning of EU law is to be established by means of a purposive/systematic interpretation in the light of all language versions. On the basis of court practices in the Netherlands, this article explores if, and to what extent, national judges take into account the multilingual aspect of EU law. It is assessed in that regard whether current practices raise issues of legal certainty, in particular in case of diverging language versions. It is argued that, in contrast to apparent current practices, language comparison should be a default step in the interpretation and application of EU law, as otherwise discrepancies between language versions of EU law may remain unnoticed. Moreover, national courts should refer such discrepancies to the ECJ. Lastly, national courts should use their margin of appreciation to attenuate any adverse effects for individuals who acted on the basis of a diverging language version.
Published online 21 December 2018
Type of Access: openAccess