A report published today examines the potential implications of the draft EU Constitutional Treaty on the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

While the future of the draft Treaty remains unclear − following a failure to reach agreement on it at the InterGovernmental Conference (IGC) in December 2003 − the report still raises issues relevant to the future of Europe.

It explores the relationship between the draft Constitution and national Constitutions and the impact of the doctrine of the primacy of Community law.

The report also considers the role of the European Court and national courts in defining the respective powers of the Union and individual Member States. Which court has the final say is a matter of constitutional and political importance.

The report queries whether EU foreign policy should be immune from supervision by the European Court and discusses whether the draft Constitution would give citizens adequate protection in relation to criminal law and procedures.

The Report makes a number of proposals aimed at:

  • clarifying the position of the European Court of Justice

  • ensuring that Union policies and their implementation are subject to judicial control

  • enabling citizens to challenge directly Community measures affecting them.

Chapter 4 of the report includes a two-page summary of the Committee's conclusions and recommendations.


1. The members of the European Union Sub-Committee on Law and Institutions who conducted this inquiry were:

Lord Brennan

Lord Clinton-Davis

Lord Denham

Lord Grabiner

Lord Henley

Lord Mayhew of Twysden

Lord Neill of Bladen

Lord Scott of Foscote (Chairman)

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood

Lord Thomson of Monifieth

The following were members of the Sub-Committee during session 2002−03 when the inquiry began: Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, Lord Lester of Herne Hill and Lord Plant of Highfield.

2. The report is published by the Stationery Office: The Future Role of the European Court of Justice, Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 6th Report, Session 2003−04, HL Paper 47, ISBN 010 400421 5, price £17.50. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via

3. The Irish Presidency, headed by Bertie Ahern, will assess the prospect of progress on the draft Constitutional Treaty and is due to report to the European Council Meeting in Brussels on 25 − 26th March 2004.

4. For more details about the composition and powers of the European Court of Justice please use the following link.

5. Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

For copies of the report please contact:

Jillian Bailey, Press & Publicity Officer (Committees) on 020 7219 8659 or e-mail: