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Recognition of EU Court Decision in Portugal

Recognition of EU Court Decision in Portugal

The European Court of Justice (ECJ), based in Luxembourg, represents the highest judicial body of the European Community and the issued decisions are fully recognized and applied in Portugal, being a Member State of the EU since 1986.

ECJ aims to ensure the uniform appliance and interpretation of the EU law in each Member State. The Community Law is independent and has a binding character on the national law and its provisions are directly applied in all Member States.

The Court is composed of one judge from each Member State and nine advocates-general, elected for a period of six years. Every three years is held a partial replacement of the Judges and Advocates General, by alternative replacing eight or seven judges and four Advocates General. Judges and Advocates-General may be reappointed at the end of the term.

The main cases examined and judged by the European Court of Justice are:

Actions for failure to fulfil an obligation: the Court controls how Member States comply with the obligations imposed by Community Law. When the Court finds that a failure has occurred, the state is obliged to take the necessary measures to put an end to the situation. When the Member State has not complied with the directions given, it may be imposed the payment of a large sum or a coercive fine.

Actions for annulment: this procedure allows Member States, the Council, the Commission and, in certain situations, the Parliament to request the total or partial annulment of a community provision or law. Individuals may also seek for the annulment of a legal act that directly affects them.

Preliminary ruling: The European Court of Justice is working with the courts of the Member States, which are courts of general jurisdiction in the matter of law. To ensure the effective and uniform application of Community law and to avoid any divergent interpretation, the national courts may and sometimes must bring before the European Court of Justice any case that implies clarifying a question of interpretation in respect to the Community law. This measure is taken in order to verify the conformity of national legislation with Community law.

Action for failure to act: By this action the European Court reviews the legality of inaction of any Community institutions. However, such action can not be brought until that institution was requested to act. When found unlawful failure, the institution concerned shall terminate failure to act by taking appropriate measures. The jurisdiction to act is divided between the Court of Justice and Court of First Instance.

Appeal: The European Court may hear appeals submitted against decisions and orders issued by the Court of First Instance. When the ECJ considers the appeal admissible and well founded, the decision issued by the Court of First Instance can be annulled.

Review: The ECJ can review in exceptionally cases the decisions issued by the Court of First Instance which rules on appeals against decisions issued by the European Civil Service Tribunal.