How the Court protects citizens’ rights – Bringing a case to the ECJ

How the Court protects citizens’ rights – Bringing a case to the ECJ


The European Union is an organisation
based on the rule of law. And the Court of Justice protects
the rights you have under that EU law. So, if an EU institution takes a decision
that affects your interests… …you can challenge that decision
directly before the General Court, one of the two courts that make up
the Court of Justice of the EU. However,
much of the legislation adopted by the EU isn’t addressed directly to individuals, but applies via the various
national legal systems. This means that national judges
apply EU law, and you can rely on EU law
before a national court. If necessary, National Judges can ask
questions of the Court of Justice, to clarify whether EU law is valid
or what it means… … and therefore also determine whether
national legislation and practices are in line with EU law. This also means that if you feel
a country is infringing EU law, it is possible to take a case
to a national court. If necessary the national
judge can then check with the Court of Justice
whether national rules breach EU law. Alternatively you could complain
to the European Commission. The Commission will examine your complaint and if required might start proceedings
against the country for infringing EU law. This could culminate in a court case
decided by the Court of Justice. These legal safeguards,
overseen by the Court of Justice, ensure all citizens are treated fairly
across Europe… …and that the rights of five hundred
million people under EU law are protected.

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