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Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

10. Constitutions and Courts  

Nuno Garoupa and Pedro C. Magalhães

This chapter focuses on the constitutions of European countries as well as on the mechanisms in place to interpret and enforce them. It starts by defining ‘constitution’. It then proceeds to a discussion about the role of courts and constitutional review of legislation. Focusing in particular on centralized constitutional review, it describes the variety of powers enjoyed by contemporary constitutional courts. Existing mechanisms for litigation and judicial appointment are also considered. Finally, it addresses the existing empirical evidence about both judicial behaviour in such courts and their political impact. The chapter concludes with an examination of current trends in the direction of supranational constitutionalism and constitutional review.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

7. The Court of Justice of the European Union:  

a quiet leader

Sabine Saurugger and Fabien Terpan

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is one of the key institutions in the European political system, and amongst the less well known. Described as one of the most powerful international courts, and perceived as one of the reasons the UK left the European Union (EU) (their main argument being that they did not want to be held to account by an unelected and non-British court), the Court continues to be shrouded in mystery. The aim of this chapter is to facilitate an understanding of the structure, history, and workings of this Court, as a key actor in the EU’s institutional system. As such, it is not only a judicial actor but a ‘political’ actor too. Its constitutional role, as well as its role during the economic and financial crisis, illustrates these multiple facets.