Speech by Marlene Wind at Oxford Law Faculty – University of Copenhagen

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07 May 2014

Speech by Marlene Wind at Oxford Law Faculty

Wednesday 7th May Professor Marlene Wind will talk about her project: "Why Nordic Majoritarian Democracies have Escaped the European Court of Justice" at Oxford Law Faculty. In the literature the Nordic countries are always presented as obedient compliers of EU law. However, taking a slightly closer look both Nordic ministries and courts are very reluctant to interact with supranational legal EU bodies. This study which is based on a survey among Danish and Swedish judges shows that the Nordic national courts are among the least eager when it comes to forwarding preliminary references to the CJEU. Moreover, it is rarely the national judges themselves who decide which cases should go forward to Luxembourg but the Ministry of Justice. The judges themselves consent and seldom - if ever - forward a case which has not been recommended by the Ministry. The main focus of this talk will be to try to explain why the Nordic courts are so timid when it comes to interacting with supranational judicial bodies. Building on democratic theory the thesis is that countries with no tradition for judicial review by courts at the national level, will have severe difficulties accepting judicial review at a Supranational level like the EU as well. The data presented here are mainly drawn from a published project on the EU. However, data in a larger project on international law that I am currently working on confirms that national courts in majoritarian democracies very rarely – on their own account – refer to international court cases or international treaties. The overall question is of course where this leaves ordinary citizens who seek to have their rights protected?