Reconceptualizing the Primacy–Supremacy Debate in EU Law

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The practical effects of the principle of primacy of EU law are well established in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). However, the highest national courts have had difficulties in coming to terms with the principle. Does the primacy of EU law also entail the ‘supremacy’ of EU law, and what is the significance of this for national sovereignty? There seems to be no coherence in the academic discussion on how to use the terms primacy and supremacy and what they actually entail. This article presents a reconceptualization of the way in which the terms primacy and supremacy could be understood in EU law. It is argued that they are two distinct concepts: primacy refers to actual conflicts between a national norm and an EU norm in situations concerning individual rights, whereas supremacy refers to the structural relation between the EU’s and the Member States’ legal orders that manifests itself as institutional conflicts of competence. This article maps out the primacy–supremacy debate, assesses the proposed conceptualization in light of recent European and national case law, and positions the argument in relation to constitutional pluralism, the leading theory of European constitutionalism.
JulkaisuLegal Issues of Economic Integration
TilaJulkaistu - 2020
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli


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