Volume 44 (2007) / Issue 3
This article inquires how the EC courts deal with judgments of other international courts and tribunals, such as the European Court of Human Rights, WTO tribunals, and panels set up by the EC’s proliferating number of bilateral agreements. Having reviewed the case law to date, the essay focuses on one question in particular: should the EC courts consider themselves bound by rulings of other international tribunals? Although the ECJ recognized in the early 1990s that it might be so bound, to date it has never accepted this in actual case. The article submits that, in the absence of a specific instruction in a particular international agreement, there are strong reasons for the EC courts not to bind themselves a priori to rulings of other international tribunals. The EC Courts should normally follow the rulings of the international tribunal, but should keep the power to deviate from another international ruling in narrowly defined circumstances. Reference is made to the practice of national courts. Allowing the EC courts to perform such limited checks and balances should not weaken the Community’s credibility as a reliable negotiating partner. It will also facilitate the domestic reception of international law in the EC legal order.
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