The Court of Justice of the E.U.: A Contextualist Court




Interpretation of E.U. Law, Court of Justice, Legal Reasoning, Teleology, Contextualism


The Court of Justice of the European Union (E.U.) is sometimes labelled “a teleological court”. In this paper I will show why it is a misleading label. Then I will propose a more appropriate label for it – “a contextualist court” – and describe what such a label reveals about the interpretation of E.U. law by the Court of Justice. In particular, I will show that the contextual/systemic arguments are the most defining feature of the Court’s legal reasoning and that those arguments are essential for the Court’s use of other categories of interpretive arguments: textual/linguistic, purposive/teleological, and historical/intentional. I will also discuss what are the values promoted by such an approach to the interpretation of E.U. law. In the end, I will demonstrate, using a recent case study, that the Court’s interpretive approach leads to integrationist outcomes less often than is usually thought. This challenges accounts built on the alleged integrationist bias of the Court of Justice, which is often used interchangeably with the label “teleological”.




How to Cite

Petrić, D. (2023). The Court of Justice of the E.U.: A Contextualist Court. University of Bologna Law Review, 8(2), 11–52.



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