EFTA Court - The Homogeneity Goal

The Homogeneity Goal

The EEA is based in a two pillar structure, the EU constituting one pillar and the three participating EFTA States the other. In substance, the EEA Agreement has extended the EU single market to the participating EFTA States. EEA law is therefore largely identical to EU law. In order to secure a level playing field for individuals and economic operators in both pillars, special homogeneity provisions have been laid down in the EEA Agreement and in the Surveillance and Court Agreement. Under these rules, the EFTA Court shall follow the relevant case law of the ECJ on provisions of Union law that are identical in substance to provisions of EEA law rendered prior to the date of signature of the EEA Agreement (2 May 1992) and shall pay due account to the principles laid down by the European Court of Justice's relevant case law rendered after that date. The EFTA Court’s jurisprudence is in fact based on the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The politically important distinction between old and new ECJ case law has largely been qualified in practice. The EFTA Court also refers to the case law of the General Court of the European Union (EGC). All three EEA courts (ECJ, EGC, EFTA Court) have not only emphasized the need for a uniform interpretation of EU and EEA law, but have actively seen to it that homogeneity has been preserved.

The EFTA Court has in the majority of its cases been faced with legal issues that have not or not fully been decided by the ECJ. The EEA Agreement does not contain a written rule that would oblige the ECJ to take into account the case law of the EFTA Court when interpreting EU or EEA law. In practice, both Union Courts (the ECJ and the EGC), have, however, made reference to EFTA Court jurisprudence. As to the interpretation of EEA law, the Union courts reverted to judgments by the EFTA Court with regard to the legal nature of the EEA Agreement, the principle of State liability in EEA law, the free movement of goods and the freedom of establishment.

When interpreting EU law, the Union Courts found support in the jurisprudence of the EFTA Court in cases concerning the Directive on Television without Frontiers, the Directive on Transfer of Undertakings, the precautionary principle in foodstuff law, and the selectivity criterion in State aid law. Advocates General of the European Court of Justice have also entered a judicial dialogue with the EFTA Court. On the other hand, the EFTA Court regularly refers to Opinions of Advocates General.

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Famous quotes containing the words goal and/or homogeneity:

    When we have a great goal we are superior even to justice, not merely to our deeds and our judges.
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    Seems fairly clear that you fix a breed by LIMITING the amount of alien infiltration. You make a race by homogeneity and by avoiding INbreeding.... No argument has ever been sprouted against it. You like it in dogs and horses.
    Ezra Pound (1885–1972)