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Call for papers

The EU Court of Justice as a Relational Actor
University of Gothenburg, 8–9 June 2020

The Court of Justice’s importance for the EU’s legal trajectory can hardly be overstated and the Court’s role and activity have rightly been subject to an abundance of research within both legal and political science. It is conventional wisdom that the Court has been a driver of European integration and EU legal development. The Court’s often presumed and sometimes demonstrated judicial activism has provided one of the key explanatory factors for many of its bolder decisions, and has become one of the established truths of both critical scholarship and public rhetoric about the Court. Indeed, one of its first and most wellnown judges famously admitted to the Court having its own "certain idea of Europe".

However, courts in general – and the Court of Justice is no exception in this regard – are unable to drive developments in isolation, for the simple reason that courts do not have the power of initiation. The Court of Justice can only work with the cases that are brought before it. Moreover, while the difficulty associated with Treaty changes make the Court in some cases relatively insulated against legislative override, in many other aspects the Court is unusually dependent on the cooperation of other actors, notably national courts and enforcement agencies, for the effectiveness of its judgments. Both of these factors suggest that the Court ought to be conscious of its public image as well as its individualisable relations to other courts and institutions.

Against this backdrop, the conference seeks to examine the Court as a relational actor. How does it relate to the institutions and persons to and with whom it speaks?

In particular, the conference will address three (possibly) controversial ideas. First, that the identity of its actors appearing before the Court, as well as the strength of their arguments and the context in which they are presented, are or at least can be factors that weigh in on the Court’s decisionaking. Second, that the Court’s rulings (and the legal interpretations they are based upon) are informed as much by its relations to competing and collaborating actors at EU, national and perhaps also international level, as it is by the Court’s own general outlook. Third, that the intended audience of a judgment – understood either as the parties to the case or as a wider circle of stakeholders – affects the way it is justified, and possibly the way it is arrived at.

Topics of Interest

The organiser welcomes papers that in different ways address – either refuting or supporting – one or more of the ideas outlined above. Methodologically innovative approaches to legal scholarship are encouraged. Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • The interaction between national courts and the Court of Justice within the preliminary reference procedure
  • The Court of Justice’s attitude towards possible competitors, such as the German Federal Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights
  • The use of the Court as a political arena by national governments and civil society groups
  • The interaction between the Court and other EU or nonU institutions
  • How the Court is perceived by those that interacts with it, other stakeholders, and/or the broader public



Please send an abstract of approximately 400 words, along with information about the applicant’s current affiliation and contact details, to anna.ghavanini@law.gu.se no later than 15 January 2020. Notification of acceptance will be by 15 February. Full draft papers are due 15 May. Selected speakers will be invited to contribute to a special issue on the topic of the conference.


The conference is free of charge. Applicants should expect to cover their own travel and accommodation expences; however, funds may be available for partial refund of these costs.

Sidansvarig: Jeffrey Johns|Sidan uppdaterades: 2019-11-01

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