Lunch seminar with Christoph Krenn

Inside the European Court of Justice: Authority and Legitimacy in the Making


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has since the 1950s developed from an international administrative tribunal with a negligible docket into one of the most powerful courts in Europe. Understanding the foundation of its authority and assessing its normative legitimacy have been key issues in the study of the Court. Yet, the ECJ’s inner workings – its procedural and organizational law – have been largely neglected in these discussions. As regards the ECJ’s authority, the focus has so far been mainly put on exogenous factors, such as the geopolitical context of European integration, the interests of domestic courts, or social movements in the EU Member States. The debate on the Court’s normative legitimacy has been dominated by the concept of judicial activism and the related debate on the Court’s interpretative methods.

In my presentation, I will show, first, why looking inside the Court, i.e. approaching the ECJ’s authority and normative legitimacy through the lens of its procedural and organizational law, is both, a necessary and fruitful approach. It provides, so the argument goes, a renewed understanding of how the ECJ built its authority since the 1960s. At the same time it presents a powerful route for assessing and developing the ECJ’s normative legitimacy. I will furthermore explain my empirical strategies for gaining an understanding of how the Court works inside. The main part of my presentation will, however, be devoted to the underlying conceptual issues of my book, notably the concepts of procedural authority and procedural legitimacy.

All interested are welcome to attend. Registration is not necessary.