Select Committee on European Communities Third Report

APPENDIX 2 (Continued)


Remit of the ECJ in the Third Pillar

...We are not persuaded that the Treaty on European Union should be amended on this occasion so as to make automatic provision for European Court jurisdiction over third pillar instruments.(282)


Remit of the ECJ in the Third Pillar

The remit of the Court of Justice is extended by the new Treaty. One of the amendments gives the Court competence in the area covered by Title VI (the Justice and Home Affairs Pillar) under the condition laid down in Articles K.7 and K.12.

Article K7 would expand the role of the ECJ in relation to police and judicial co-operation. In the existing Treaty this is limited to an optional jurisdiction (which the UK has hitherto rejected) over Conventions. Under the new arrangements the Court would automatically have jurisdiction to rule on disputes between the Member States over future conventions and would acquire a similar jurisdiction with respect to framework and other decisions if the dispute were not settled in the Council within six months.

The Court would also acquire the power to give preliminary rulings on questions referred by national courts and relating to this title, but only in respect of national courts in Member States which opt either at the time of signing the new Treaty, or subsequently, to accept this form of jurisdiction.

The Court of Justice would also be expected to acquire jurisdiction over those parts of the Justice and Home Affairs Pillar which have been transferred to Community competence, but Article H of the Treaty modifies the way in which references by national courts to the ECJ are to be made. Only the highest national courts may make references and they must do so where they consider that an ECJ ruling is necessary to enable the national court to give judgment. Article H(3) permits the Council, the Commission or a Member State to seek a ruling on "a question of interpretation of this Title or of Acts of the institutions of the Community based on this Title". However, this power cannot be used to re-open judgments already made in national courts.

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Prepared 24 July 1997