Reasoning, Interpretation, Authority, Pluralism, and the Weiss/PSPP Saga

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. National courts interpret EU law. – III. German Constitutional Court interprets EU law. – III.1. Surrendering. – III.2. Forgetting. – III.3. Rejecting. – IV. Interpretation, contestation, pluralism. – IV.1. I hear, but I cannot understand. – IV.2. That’s just the way it is. – IV.3. Enter interpretive pluralism. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: This Article deals with the question of the quality of legal reasoning of the Court of Justice of the EU. It first introduces the German Constitutional Court’s decision in PSPP (ECLI:DE:BVerfG:2020:rs20200505.2bvr085915), which brought an unprecedent challenge to the authority of the Court of Justice regarding interpretation of EU law. Then it discusses how national courts, when exercising the constitutionality review domestically, engage in interpretation of EU law. As an example, recent case law of the German Constitutional Court is analysed. Specific focus is placed on the PSPP decision, in which the German court took issue with the Court of Justice’s interpretive reasoning in Weiss (case C-493/17 ECLI:EU:C:2018:1000), thereby contesting the latter’s monopoly in saying definitively not only what the EU law is, but also how to determine what the EU law is. One of the key takeaways was that if a judgment of the Court of Justice suffers from gross “methodological” deficiencies, that makes it inapplicable in domestic legal system. However, this suggestion does not change much regarding judicial interpretations and dynamic development of EU law, as will be proposed in this Article, and for several reasons. First, what makes interpretive arguments admissible is in general widely shared among the courts in the EU. Second, national courts have already on several occasions provoked the Court of Justice to improve its reasoning. Finally, the concept of interpretive pluralism explains the national courts’ ever-greater engagement with the matters of interpretation of EU law.

Keywords: German Federal Constitutional Court – Court of Justice of the European Union – legal reasoning and interpretation – institutional authority – interpretive pluralism – Weiss and PSPP.

European Papers, Vol. 6, 2021, No 2, pp. 1123-1150
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/516

* Assistant Lecturer, University of Zagreb,


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