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Split Vision: Multidimensionality in the European Union's Legal Policy Space

Journal article
Authors Olof Larsson
Daniel Naurin
Published in International Studies Quarterly
Volume 63
Issue 3
Pages 492-506
ISSN 0020-8833
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 492-506
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqz022
Subject categories Political Science

Abstract

The European Union (EU) offers an example of deep judicialization, where highly salient political values are adjudicated on a regular basis. In such contexts, political attention may shift from national sovereignty costs (the vertical dimension) to distributive conflicts within and between states (the horizontal dimension), creating a multidimensional legal policy space. We discuss the implications of this setting for judicial behavior and argue that it may create both opportunities and pitfalls for international judges, depending on how the dimensions are related. If the institutional interests of judges in promoting international law systematically favor some states over others on the horizontal dimension, judicial activism is likely to provoke feedback effects in the form of severe legitimacy problems. If the dimensions are unrelated, on the other hand, adjudicators become further empowered. We draw on a large dataset to show how the Court of Justice of the EU has been able to use divisions between states on the left-right dimension to enhance the legitimacy and autonomy of European law.

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