comparative law, European law, legal harmonization, le-gal translation, general principles of law, autonomous concepts, constitutional traditions, constitutional identity, European Court of Justice
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has often been hailed as an engine of European integration. Entrusted with the task of securing the uniform interpretation of the law of the European Union—among other functions—the ECJ makes use of comparative law for a variety of purposes. The very composition of the Court and its peculiar linguistic regime make the Court a major comparative law laboratory. Under the Treaties, the Court is explicitly authorised to resort to comparative law as a method of judicial interpretation with regard to certain aspects of European law. But comparative law is an essential tool for the Court in several other contexts as well. This article is the occasion to take a closer look at the role that comparative law plays in the development of the jurisprudence of the Court, and to showcase some salient applications of it. Quite often, the Court limits references to comparative law arguments to a few lines in its judgments. Nonetheless, comparisons that go far beyond the merely technical aspects of the law are part and parcel of the everyday business of the Court. Even when the language of comparative law is not overtly spoken, those comparisons define the ethos of the European Union, and show how the Union sets out to challenge, and change, the laws of the Member States.
The European Court of Justice at Work: Comparative Law on Stage and Behind the Scenes,
13 J. Civ. L. Stud.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/jcls/vol13/iss1/2