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Revisiting the European Court of Justice

  • Walter Mattli and Anne-Marie Slaughter


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is widely recognized not only as an important actor in the process of European integration but also as a strategic actor in its own right. In the last four years the literature on the Court has dramatically expanded, nourishing a lively debate between neofunctionalists and intergovernmentalists. But this debate has now reached the limits of its usefulness. Both neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism neglect the range of specific motives and constraints shaping the behavior of individual litigants and national courts; further, both insist on modeling the state as a unitary actor. New scholarship on public interest and corporate litigants in the EU and on the relationship between the ECJ and national courts highlights these failings. Reviewing the literature, this essay develops a model of the legal integration process that encompasses disaggregated state actors—courts, regulatory agencies, executives, and legislatures—interacting with both supranational institutions and private actors in domestic and transnational society. It distills new data and theoretical insights to specify the preferences of some of these actors and the constraints they face in implementing those preferences.


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Revisiting the European Court of Justice

  • Walter Mattli and Anne-Marie Slaughter


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