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The Court of Justice's Vision for and Development of EU Democracy

David Yuratich

Scholarly attention is frequently paid to the Court of Justice of the European Union's constitutionalising role. Far less work considers the court's democratisation role - how it articulates and pursues an approach to EU democracy. This neglects the important point that the court's jurisprudence seeks the most democratic lawmaking process possible within the confines of existing EU law. This paper steps towards plugging this gap in the literature. It outlines the court's approach to EU democracy and its democracy-building role.The paper argues that the court's conception of EU democracy is embedded in its institutional balance doctrine. This holds that each institution must be able to fulfil their tasks as effectively as possible. For the Commission, Council, and European Parliament (EP) this includes a legislative role. Each represents a particular EU constituency, understood by the court as respectively the common EU interest, Member States, and EU citizens. When the court states a need for balance between these lawmaking institutions it is making a democratic statement: representatives of three legitimators must be substantially involved in lawmaking. Case law therefore endeavours to actualise that vision by placing the EP's input on a more even keel with the Commission and Council. This is a necessary part of the court's mandate to pursue ever-closer union. The jurisprudence acknowledges that the 'new legal order' the court has been developing since Van Gend en Loos must, in order to be successful, incorporate a democratic settlement as well as a legal relationship, and shapes EU law accordingly.

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