Date: 05 Dec 2012

The National Judge as Judge of the European Union

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Abstract

The national judge is the first judge of the European Union. The early decisions of the Court favoured private enforcement of rights by individual action. This decentralised judicial power to courts of the Member States, exercising national procedural autonomy. This policy obviated the need for a separate system of EU courts. The national courts have the task of providing effective judicial protection for individuals under EU law; they are under a duty to apply EU law of their own motion; to interpret relevant national law in conformity with it; to apply provisions which have direct effect, according them primacy over conflicting provisions of national law. This includes holding the State itself liable. When necessary for their decisions, they have power to make references for preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice. The national courts, in a dynamic co-operation with the Court of Justice have contributed to the establishment of the acquis communautaire, the promotion of respect for the rule of law and for fundamental human rights at Union level and in the Member States.

Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland, Advocate General at the Court of Justice from 1995 to 2000.