Washington Law Review


Dennis Thompson


This term, the "new legal order," was first used by the Court of Justice in the First Tariff Commission case; I use the expression in its widest possible sense. This new legal order which springs from the Treaty of Rome, and which brings the citizens of the Community within the protection of the Treaty, also applies to the relations between the member states. The constitutional position of the member countries has been radically altered by the terms of the Treaty, and their relationship is no longer one which exists between fully sovereign countries. They have all—and equally—subscribed to build the Community on what has been described as a basis of "supranationality." The three fundamental ways in which this supranational element shows itself in the Community are to be seen in the powers of the institutions. First, the Commission is established as an independent body with a motive power of its own. Second, the Council of Ministers is given the right to make certain decisions affecting the member states by a specially qualified majority vote; and third, the Court of Justice has compulsory jurisdiction over the member states in respect of the performance of the Treaty. These three principles are the basis on which the future of Europe—and all its hopes—are built. It is of particular significance that it is the first two—the independence of the Commission, and the principle of majority voting—that have been specifically challenged recently, and therefore are most worthy of examination. It is therefore my present intention to examine these principles.

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