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"Learning to Trust the European Court of Justice -- Lessons from the German Case"

Grosskopf, Anke. (2005) "Learning to Trust the European Court of Justice -- Lessons from the German Case". In: UNSPECIFIED, Austin, TX. (Unpublished)

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    Even though the European Court of Justice has always played a significant role in European integration, its importance is bound to increase further as the European Union enlarges and the constitutionalization process continues. Yet despite the Court’s growing importance, we still know very little about why and how European publics tolerate the rule of any unelected, let alone a supranational, court. Even less is known about how newly democratized countries first learn to trust institutions such as the ECJ. This paper utilizes a quasi-experimental design to analyze the development of public support for the ECJ by comparing the nature, levels and development of support in West Germany to those in East Germany. Particular attention is given to the question of how support for the Court differs from support for the other institutions of European government and to how support for the supranational institutions compares to support for their national counterparts, as well as how perceptions at both levels square with a popular wish for “stealth democracy.” Based on evidence from two ALLBUS public opinion surveys and a series of focus groups conducted in West and East Germany, it appears that people make a functional connection between the national and the supranational court, evaluating them along similar dimensions. Unlike the other institutions of government both courts are seen as neutral, technical arbiters of the law that are fundamentally trustworthy because they do not benefit from their decisions. The European Court of Justice is considered as the functional equivalent of the Bundesverfassungsgericht at a different level of government. There are some differences between East and West Germany, but they are slight. The evidence suggests that citizens learn to trust supranational courts by first learning to trust the national constitutional court as a disinterested arbiter of political conflict.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht); trust in institutions.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > law & legal affairs-general (includes international law)
    Countries > Germany
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > public opinion
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > European Court of Justice/Court of First Instance
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2005 (9th), March 31-April 2, 2005
    Depositing User: Anke Grosskopf
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2005
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:25

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