In particular, this work critically assesses the pivotal role of the CJEU in advancing the
European legal integration in the after Lisbon era. Although the achievement of proper
integration should by no means be considered in isolation, the CJEU can be considered
as the catalyst for integration within the EU. This institution has been extremely active
in following ‘a vigorous policy of legal integration, particularly in the first decades of the
Community’s existence,’1giving substance to the ‘framework’ Treaties, expanding Union
competences, enhancing the effectiveness of Union law2and developing the principle of
supremacy, the doctrine of direct effect and the general principles of Union law. It has
been described, on the one hand, as ‘a hero who has greatly advanced the cause of
integration’3and, on the other hand, as the ‘European lawyer’s hobbyhorse.’4
Informed by the CJEU’s historical activism, the paper poses the question whether
regional integration in the post-Lisbon era will be enhanced as a consequence of the
strengthening of fundamental rights’ protection. By comparing the findings of an
ongoing empirical research led by the authors with the recent post-Lisbon judicial
developments, the paper attempts to assess the Court’s relationship to the institution-
alisation of fundamental rights in the post-Lisbon era. In particular, it questions
whether conferring legal nature to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights gives more
formal scope to the Court to advance the process of integration.
Although the Lisbon Treaty’s drafters might not have intended to inaugurate a new
stage of integration based on rights, the preamble to the consolidated version of the
Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) underlines the commitment towards an
‘ever closer Union among the peoples of Europe’ and states the aim to mark ‘a new stage
in the process of European integration.’ It then recalls that to pursue such a goal, the EU
is inspired by the principle of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and funda-
mental freedoms and by the rule of law.
Member States (MSs), including those applying to join the Union, are required to
respect fundamental rights, as enumerated in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,
and the CJEU has jurisdiction in matters dealt within. The Charter contains rights that
correspond, to a certain extent, to those guaranteed by the ECHR adopted under the
auspices of the Council of Europe. It is addressed ‘to the institutions and bodies of the
Union’ and to MSs ‘only when they are implementing Union law’ (Article 51(1)).
1E. Vos, Regional Integration Through Dispute Settlement: The European Union Experience Regional
Integration Through Dispute Settlement: The European Union Experience (2005) Working Paper
no. 2005–2007, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=977450 (accessed 8 June
2011). See also P. Pescatore, ‘The Doctrine of Direct Effect: An Infant Disease of Community Law’
(1983) 8 European Law Review 155–177, 157.
2G. de Búrca, ‘The European Court of Justice and the Evolution of EU Law’, in T. Börzel and R.
Cichowski (eds), The State of the European Union, Law, Politics and Society (OUP, Oxford, 2003), 48–75;
M. Dougan, National Remedies before the Court of Justice (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2004); M. Claes, The
National Courts’ Mandate in the European Constitution (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2005); G. De Búrca and
J.H.H. Weiler (eds), The European Court of Justice (OUP, Oxford, 2001); A. Dashwood and A. Johnston
(eds), The Future of the Judicial System of the European Union (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2001); A. Arnull,
The European Union and its Court of Justice (OUP, Oxford, 1999); M. Maduro Poiares, We the Court
(Hart Publishing, Oxford, 1998); R. Dehousse, The European Court of Justice (Macmillan, Basingstoke,
1998); H. Rasmussen, The European Court of Justice (Gadjura, Copenhagen, 1998), A.M. Slaughter,
A. Stone Sweet and J.H.H. Weiler (eds), The European Court and National Courts (Hart Publishing,
3K. Alter and S. Meunier-Aitsahalia, ‘Judicial Politics in the European Community’, (1994) 26 Compara-
tive Political Studies, 535–561, 535–536.
4T. Koopmans, ‘The Future of the Court of Justice of the European Communities’, (1991) 11 Yearbook of
European Law 15.
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596 © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.