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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.