Independence of the Court of Justice of the European Union: Unchecked Member States power after the Sharpston Affair

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Series Details Volume 27, Number 1-3 (Special Issue), Pages 262-296
Publication Date January-May 2021
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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the apex of the EU legal order, and is the supreme arbiter of EU law. For decades, it has delivered judgments, collectively shaping European integration and ‘integration through law’. It has undoubtedly been an authoritative leader in entrenching a European judicial culture, and has benefited from the cardinal principle of judicial independence enshrined in the EU Treaties, which in turn, it has insisted on being upheld as regards national courts.

Questions have rarely arisen, however, about judicial independence of the CJEU. The Sharpston Affair of 2020–2021 opened the door to questioning such judicial independence. Is the CJEU at the mercy of the Member States? If so, what are the consequences for the EU legal order? This article reflects on the judicial independence of the CJEU, and offers reflections on how it can be preserved in the future.

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