Karin Leijon defends her thesis 8 June


Karin Leijon defends her thesis National Courts as Gatekeepers in European Integration on 8 June at 10:15 in Brusewitzsalen (Östra Ågatan 19).

Karin Leijon photo Tove Hellkvist

The external reviewer is Professor Daniel Naurin, University of Oslo/University of Gothenburg.
The examiner is Professor Sten Widmalm, Department of Government, Uppsala University. The other members of the examining committee are Senior Lecturer Maria Strömsvik, Department of Political Science, Lund University and Lena Marcusson Senior Professor at the Department of Law, Uppsala University. 

The defence will be held in Swedish.

National Courts as Gatekeepers in European Integration

Karin Leijon

The national courts’ placement in the intersection between the EU and member state legal systems makes them important gatekeepers in the process of European integration. In the scholarly debate, national courts are characterized as either supporters of legal integration or as defenders of national sovereignty. The aim of Karin Leijon’s dissertation is to improve our understanding of the national courts’ role as gatekeepers in EU legal integration by shedding new light on the national courts’ aggregated behavioral patterns and the mode of reasoning of individual judges in the preliminary ruling procedure. The dissertation provides a detailed examination of the national courts’ two key choices in the preliminary ruling procedure, both of which have important implications for the scope and pace of legal integration: (1) whether national courts are allowing the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to decide politically sensitive cases in which national policies are at stake; and (2) whether national courts frame the referred cases by expressing support for an integration-friendly interpretation of the EU law or whether they instead voice an opinion in defense of challenged national law.

The dissertation contributes to redefining the main theoretical controversy on what role national courts play in EU legal integration by identifying previously un-theorized behavior patterns. The analysis demonstrates that national court behavior is not limited to either supporting legal integration or defending national law. On the contrary, national courts frequently make choices that may alleviate parts of the inherent tension between legitimate national concerns and the EU legal obligations that member states must accept in order for the EU to function efficiently. Moreover, Karin Leijon shows that Swedish judges are not reasoning as expected by the dominant theoretical outlook in the judicial politics literature, meaning that they are not primarily guided by the logic of consequentialism and self-regarding preferences when making decisions in the preliminary ruling procedure. Instead, the judges’ mode of reasoning also centers on what constitutes the appropriate course of action given their professional obligations and how their choices may impact various actors and institutions, such as the overall functioning of the preliminary ruling procedure. 

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Last modified: 2023-11-23