The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.

The 'Janus Face' of the Court of Justice of the European Union: A Theoretical Appraisal of the EU Legal Order's Relationship with International and Member State Law

Lando Kirchmair



For many years, the ECJ has postulated the autonomy of the EU legal order. At the same time, it has also stressed the importance of noting that the UN and the EU are distinct legal orders. In light of this situation, we have one and the same international organization applying two diametrically opposed theoretical doctrines. Regarding the inner relationship with its Member States, the ECJ proclaims a unified legal order based on the monistic doctrine. Dualistic arguments, in contrast, serve to separate the EU legal order from international law. This paper intends to clarify whether this obvious contradiction is due to a simple misinterpretation by the ECJ or is grounded in flaws within the almost 100 year old theories of monism and dualism which can no longer serve to explain the relationship between legal orders satisfactorily. The paper concludes that the situation cannot be characterized as black and white. However, in order to establish fundamental foundations, a clear theoretical line is essential.


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