European Union Law in the Jurisprudence of French Supreme Courts: Europe-Friendliness with a French Touch

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Series Details Volume 21, Number 4, Pages 765-780
Publication Date December 2015
ISSN 1354-3725
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This paper tries to explain the present day attitudes towards EU law of the three French Supreme Courts to a public of non-French lawyers, with the aim of revisiting the traditional view of a slightly sceptical jurisprudence in European Union matters, which dates from the 1970s; that former attitude could be compared to the present day attitude of the Bundesverfassungsgericht.

Nowadays however, while the latter Court appears often to pay lip service to the development of European integration with its own concept of Europafreundlichkeit – which is repeatedly used in the Lisbon Judgment of 2009 of the German Constitutional court and in its following rulings – French supreme courts appear having a truly Europe-friendly attitude since a decade or so, because they have understood that the best way not to be overflown by the tide of EU law is to participate again in its further development, a point that lawyers such as Maurice Lagrange had well understood since the early 1950s.

The paper starts with a summary presentation of the French judicial system, in order to clarify why it would not be accurate to concentrate comparisons on the sole constitutional court (section 1), before analysing French jurisprudence on the issue of treaty revision (section 2), and on the application of EU law in France, especially on the transposition of directives (section 3). As a conclusion, the paper tries to explain the intricacies of the apparently diverging jurisprudences of French supreme courts as to the compatibility between the recent system of ‘priority question of constitutionality’ as illustrated by the Melki and Abdeli case of 2010 (section 4).

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