Step 2. Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

The Court of Justice of the European Union was established in 1952 and represents judicial authority in the EU, which in cooperation with the courts and tribunals of the Member States, ensures the uniform application and interpretation of EU law. The Court of Justice of the European Union has its seat in Luxembourg and consists of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court. Out of the two, it is the Court of Justice that serves as the highest court of the EU and is responsible for giving the most important rulings such as interpretation of the EU Treaties or initiating infringement procedures against Member States for not complying with the EU law. For this reason, in this unit we are going to focus primarily on the Court of Justice, for more information on the General Court please see here.  

Like any court in a democratic system the CJEU and its 28 judges enjoy full independence and immunity in order to properly carry out their duties.)

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The Court of Justice concerns itself with a diverse set of tasks:

  • Interpreting the law – CJEU may advise national courts on the cases which touch upon EU law. If a national court is in doubt about the interpretation or validity of a EU law, it can submit its case to the Court of Justice and ask it to give a preliminary ruling on the matter.
  • Establishing infringements – this type of case is taken against a national government for failing to comply with EU law. Here, the European Commission is allowed to bring a case before the Court of Justice in order to formally establish if a Member State acted against EU law. If the country is found to be at fault, it must put things right at once, or risk a second case being brought, which may result in a fine.
  • Reviewing the legality of acts – the Court has the right to assess whether the activities of the EU institutions have been passed on proper judicial basis and are carried out using proper administrative procedures. If the Court of Justice believes that EU institutions have not acted in accordance with EU law, it can declare decisions taken by those institutions to be void. 

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Why does the Court of Justice of the EU Exist? Watch this video to understand why.



If you would like to learn more about EU law, you can enroll in the course “Introduction to European Union Law