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‘Access to Justice’ and the Development of Van Gend en Loos Doctrine: The Role of Courts and of the

The ‘access to justice’ within the meaning of the Treaty of Lisbon and the pertinent CJEU jurisprudence is primarily seen as an access to the EU judicial system, i.e. to the Member States’ national courts applying the EU law or/and the CJEU. The concept of ‘access to justice’ is therefore developing such premises of the Van Gend en Loos judgment as direct effect, vigilance of the EU individual and symbiotic relationship between the CJEU and national courts via the preliminary reference procedure. Nevertheless, the development of these Van Gend ideas through the lens of the Lisbon Treaty ‘access to justice’ concept has not been studied, although the CJEU and the ECtHR post-Lisbon practice in this area is quite extended. This work aims to explore the development of two basic ideas of Van Gend en Loos judgment, i.e. granting directly enforceable EU rights to the individuals and authorizing national courts to protect those rights, in the light of the ‘access to justice’ concept within the meaning of the Lisbon Treaty – considering their importance for the realization of EU individuals’ substantive rights and uncertainty surrounding this issue. The paper develops a critique of the theory of justice in EU Law, analyzing if and how Van Gend en Loos premises influenced the role of individuals making an attempt to claim their EU rights and the role of the EU courts responsible for the enforcement of ‘access to justice’ in the European Union. The claim of this paper is that the new concept of ‘access to justice’ brought by the Lisbon Treaty may be seen as the further development of the Van Gend ‘federalizing effect’ for the greater integration through law and an enhanced protection of the individual within the EU multilevel system of Human Rights protection.

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