The Effects of EFTA Court Jurisprudence on the Legal Orders of the EFTA States

This paper gives an assessment of the EFTA Court at the tenth anniversary of its existence. It is argued here that from the point of view of national courts, ther is no discernible difference in jurisdiction between the EFTA Court and the European Court of Justice. Other factores, such as institutional and cultural legacies in the member states more significantly affect the supply of referrals from national courts.

ARENA Working Paper 18/2004 (pdf)

Hans Petter Graver

Establishment of the EEA with a court for the EFTA Countries ten years ago gives an opportunity to examine more facets of interrelations between courts and legal orders of different jurisdictions. The EEA differs from the Community legal order in that it is constructed as an agreement under public international law without the referrals of power included in the EC-treaty. On the other hand, the object of the agreement is to mirror the law of the Single Market into the relations between the EFTA states and the EC.

Formally, the EFTA Court has a position more of an international tribunal than that of a supranational Court. Figures from the first ten years do not reflect this difference between the EFTA Court and the ECJ. Differences between the two courts regarding matters like legal basis, history, recruitment, workload and duration of proceedings, at least taken together, do not seem to influence the supply of referrals from national courts. Other factors such as similarities between the Nordic countries and construction of the national legal order have greater explanatory potential than differences between the EEA and the EC and in the institutional arrangements of the two courts.

In the reception of the jurisprudence of the EFTA Court and the ECJ, the Norwegian SupremeCourt does not distinguish according to legal obligations, but seems to take an approach similar to national courts in Member States of the EU.

Tags: fundamental/human rights, federalism, normative political theory
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM