IP Lexicon


The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), formerly the Court of Justice of the European Communities, is one of the seven institutions of the European Union.

It is based in Luxembourg and comprises three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal.

Its role is to ensure the application of Union law and the uniformity of its interpretation throughout the Union.

To this end, it monitors the legality of the acts of the institutions of the European Union and rules on compliance by the Member States with their obligations under the Treaties.

In order to preserve an effective and homogeneous application of European Union law and to promote uniformity of interpretation, national judges may also have recourse to the CJEU for a request for interpretation of Union law by means of a preliminary ruling.

The CJEU does not issue a simple opinion but a reasoned judgment or order, so that the national court that submits the question for a preliminary ruling is bound by the interpretation given.

In order to control the compliance of Member States with their obligations under EU law, the CJEU may be seized of actions for failure to fulfil obligations if the prior procedure before the Commission does not allow the Member State to put an end to its failure to fulfil its obligations.

A case may be brought before the CJEU to obtain the annulment of an act rendered by an institution, body, or agency of the Union, in particular a decision. The Court of Justice hears actions brought by a Member State against the European Parliament or the Council, while the Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to hear actions for annulment brought by individuals at first instance.

Beyond the recognition of Union law by the Member States, “judgments given in a Member State shall be recognized in the other Member States without any further procedure being required” unless “recognition is manifestly contrary to public policy in the Member State addressed” (Articles 33 and 34 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000).

Update on the direct effect of European Union law

In the course of its jurisprudence, the CJEU has imposed on the Member States an obligation to fully apply the law of the Union and to protect the rights conferred on citizens. This direct effect allows citizens of the Member States to invoke Union law directly before the national courts.

ECJ, No. C-26/62, Judgment of the Court, NV Algemene Transport- en Expeditie Onderneming van Gend & Loos v. Dutch Tax Administration, 5 February 1963

Point of jurisprudence

On the occasion of a preliminary question, the CJEU recalls that the Member States are free to determine the requirements relating to their public policy and thus the application of the exception of non-recognition.

However, this exception cannot be abused by a Member State in order not to recognize the decision of another Member State.

For the CJEU, the exception invoked by a Member State for violation of its public policy is admissible only if the recognition of the decision of the other Member State “would result in a clear violation of an essential rule of law in the legal order of the Union and therefore of the said Member State”.

ECJ, No. C-302/13, Judgment of the Court, flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines AS v. Starptautiskā lidosta Riga VAS and Air Baltic Corporation AS, 23 October 2014

Bouchara Law Firm assists you in particular in the conduct of proceedings before the CJEU.