This chapter examines the importance of law and the rule of law by looking at real-life situations through the lens of theoretical models that consider why people obey the law and how judges interpret the law. The chapter considers when and why citizens and elected officials follow the law. It then moves to the conditions under which this obedience of laws falls. It also explores the importance of courts and judges in interpreting the law, and analyses the interaction of politics and law as a way to try to understand how judges come to their decisions. In particular, it looks at the interaction between national and European Union (EU) law.
Richard Corbett and Daniel Kenealy
This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the EU. Beginning with a discussion of the idea of democracy beyond the state, it explores academic debates about whether the EU suffers a ‘democratic deficit’. The chapter evaluates the EU along various dimensions, including how powers are separated and divided within the EU, the extent to which executive accountability is established, and the various mechanisms of representation in the EU. It explores the nature of European elections, the role of European political parties, the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making and recent innovations in the way that the president of the European Commission is chosen. The chapter concludes with a discussion of fundamental rights, values, and the rule of the law in the EU with a particular focus on recent developments in Hungary and Poland.
This chapter focuses on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which comprises two courts: the CJEU and the General Court. It first provides an overview of the CJEU’s structure and functions, and then discusses some of its main rulings and their significance. It further considers rulings on the powers of the institutions, some key legal judgments made in response to questions referred to the CJEU by national courts, the impact of CJEU rulings on EU policy, and post-Maastricht trends in the CJEU and EU law. It also assesses the evolving political reactions towards the judgments of the Court, along with the debate over whether the member states have been able to effectively curb the CJEU’s radical jurisprudence.