Supranationalism, Constrained? Locating the Court of Justice on the EU Integration Dimension


The European Court of Justice is generally known to use its institutional role to advance European integration. Scholars have disagreed, however, on the extent to which the Court fears and anticipates negative reactions to its rulings from the Member States. Without a possibility to access internal deliberations, such strategic behaviour by the Court makes it empirically challenging to identify its preferences relative to other actors. I tackle this problem using an item-response theory model designed to estimate institutional preferences from cases concerning procedural and competence disputes. I find that the Court leans on average towards more supranational positions, while also systematically adjusting its rulings in response to Member States’ preferences. Controlling for these effects reveals the European Court of Justice to be even more partial to supranationalism than the pattern of its decisions suggests.

European Union Politics