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The task of the European Court of Justice is to ensure that the law is observed in interpreting and applying the Treaties. This duty is carried out in a transnational constitutional environment where interpretation and application are to a large extent divorced from each other.
An array of approaches to assessing the Court’s work already exists. The distinct underlying assumptions of each perspective affect how Court practice is interpreted and evaluated. In terms of legal interpretation, at the one extreme would be those who subscribe to a historical-originalist – or conserving – approach and at the other those subscribing to an uncritically teleological or dynamic approach premised on furthering integration.
Neither extreme necessarily reflects in either descriptive or normative terms a fair or realistic understanding of the Court, its work, and the outcomes of legal interpretation. Even if in reality the differences were more a matter of degree, developing a better balanced approach is useful.