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Considering that a full fifty years have passed since the Treaty Establishing the European Community came into force, it seems appropriate to take a "long" view of the subject of this panel, namely, national courts and the courts of the European Union. I mean here to sketch the evolution, as I see it, of the challenge that consists of managing the "interface" between these two series of courts.

The central question pervading this discussion is simply stated: whether and to what extent the European Court of Justice ("Court of Justice" or "Court") (and the European institutions more generally) can count on the courts of the Member States to perform their judicial tasks in ways that are faithful to the ground rules of European Union ("EU") law, be those rules substantive or procedural in character. Looking back over the past five decades, I am struck by the succession of different forms this question of national court "fidelity" to Community law, for lack of a better term, has taken. (The quoted term is meant to evoke precisely the general duty of loyal cooperation imposed on Member States under Article 10 of the current EC Treaty.)

I would suggest that we have witnessed essentially three generations of such "fidelity challenges."


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