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The Foundations of European Union Law

The Foundations of European Union Law (8th edn)

Trevor Hartley
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date: 30 September 2022

9. Preliminary Referenceslocked

9. Preliminary Referenceslocked

  • T C HartleyT C HartleyProfessor of Law Emeritus at the London School of Economics and Political Science


This chapter focuses on the preliminary reference procedure, wherein the court a quo decides whether the reference should be made, and only specific issues are referred to the European Court. Once it has decided these, the European Court remits the case to the national court for a final decision. This procedure puts the European Court in a weaker position than would be normal for the supreme court in a federation. It suggests that the national courts are not subordinate to the European Court, but co-equal: the relationship is not one of hierarchy, but of co-operation. The discussions cover the provisions which may be referred; which courts are covered; hypothetical questions and contrived proceedings; when a reference should be made; the procedure for making a reference; and the effects of preliminary rulings.

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