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The Scales of Justice in Equilibrium. The ECJ’s Strategic Resolution of Ambiguity in Stefano Melloni v Ministerio Fiscal 2013 (Case C-399/11)


The Melloni preliminary reference demands that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) weighs considerations of fundamental rights and those of mutual trust directly against each other, while deciding whether the principle of primacy of EU law is to be understood in absolute or in conditional terms in this legal context. At the same time, the textual analysis of Article 53 CFREU supports two contrasting, but equally compelling, lines of interpretation of the principle of primacy of EU law. Thus, the scales of justice are left in equilibrium. My study will attempt to establish the symmetry between the legal and linguistic aspects of the interpretation of Article 53 CFREU in Melloni, in the hope of demonstrating how ambiguity might have shaped the setup for the ECJ’s decision-making process. The issuance of the Melloni preliminary ruling is understood as an act of ambiguity resolution by the ECJ that effectively tips the scales of justice in the direction which the ECJ views as strategically more advantageous for the implementation of the authority of EU law. Furthermore, my analysis will show how the ultimate resolution of this binary choice reveals the ECJ’s favoured approach in the implementation of the authority of EU law, namely system-building through concepts (Leczykiewicz, 2008), rather than system-maintenance through acceptability (Paunio, 2013).

Cite as: Kartalova, JLL 7 (2018), 25–46, DOI: 10.14762/jll.2018.025

صندلی اداری سرور مجازی ایران Decentralized Exchange


European constitutional law, pragmatics, strategic ambiguity resolution, authority of EU law, European Court of Justice, national constitutional court



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