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Europe’s courts of justice

When Britain joined the EEC in 1973, European law took precedence over British law. For two decades the power of the European court of justice in Luxembourg went largely unnoticed. The British government now wants that power reduced, while most other member states want it increased.

By Bob Taylor   June 1996

The European Union is a legal order and like every legal order it needs an adjudicating body to settle disputes and develop law. The European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg is that body. It is the least well known of the four core institutions of the EU (alongside the European commission, the council of ministers and the European parliament) and, until recently, the ECJ was regarded by the British government as a quiet ally in imposing justice on slippery continentals. At Maastricht in 1991, John Major successfully fought for the right of the ECJ to impose fines on governments…

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