Paolo Piva

Principles and Methods of Interpretation in the ECJ Case-Law

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The investigation purporting this article aims at proving that the methods of interpretations elaborated upon by the European Court of Justice are heavily influenced by the twin-pillars of direct effectiveness and primacy of EU Law which they are meant to serve in interpreting and applying the EU Treaties. The so-called ’effet utile de l’effet direct’ and its corollary of primacy constitute formidable instruments to secure the full effectiveness of rights created by this new legal order in the field of international law (Van Gend en Loos), in which the Member States have limited their sovereign rights and have thus created a body of law which binds both their nationals and themselves (Costa vs. Enel). The creative jurisprudence of the Court of Justice depends by and large on the constitutional and nomophylactic functions exercised by the Court itself in the legal system stemmed from the original Treaties (nowadays, TEU and TFEU): the frequent recourse to the spirit and goals of the Treaties underpinning the so-called schematic interpretation on the one side, and the necessity to preserve the supremacy of EU Law through an innovative form of purposive interpretation (i.e., Pfeiffer) on the other, are an earmark of the ECJ techniques of interpretation. In such a specific legal system, there is no space left for international law principles as inadimplenti non est adimplendum or jurisdictional immunity of States, particularly because EU Law’s legal system has distanced itself from its conventional original root and has undergone a very deep constitutionalizing process through which not only States but also individuals are subjects of law.


  • European Court of Justice –
  • Interpretation of EU Law –
  • Constitutionalizing Process –
  • International law –
  • Federal Jurisdictional Perspective


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