The European Court of Justice interprets the law to serve the state; English courts apply the law to serve the litigants.
The “acquis communautaire” is fundamental to the European Union. It covers all treaties, EU legislation, international agreements, standards, court verdicts, fundamental rights in treaties such as equality and non-discrimination. It represents EU law. All the EU members, and their citizens, must obey the acquis communautaire.
“The [European] Court of Justice has ruled that the EU acquis takes precedence over national law if there is a conflict, and that the acquis may have direct effect in the Member States.” (References *3) This is a one-way street; what goes up cannot come down.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) enforces the Commission’s rules. UK common law evolved over 800 years, since Magna Carta, to protect the rights of individuals against an over-mighty state. Within the EU only Ireland and Malta share Britain’s common law system, including Habeas Corpus, which is not part of “Continental” law. The ECJ is charged with interpreting the Commission’s prescribed body of law (Corpus Juris) to further its spirit. Thus “court” and “justice” have different meanings from the terms we use in our own legal system. The ECJ will even ignore treaties if they don’t suit the EU’s agenda. No action was taken against illegal bailouts to save the Eurozone, nor were France and Germany challenged for defying the Growth and Stability Pact when it didn’t suit their economies. EU laws override those of national parliaments. Interpreting the law to accommodate a government’s wishes is characteristic of one-party rule.
English Common Law is radically different from European Civil Law. Common Law is ‘bottom-up’ in the sense that it is based on precedent; what has worked in the past is the best basis for judging what will work now. It is incremental and adapts continuously to current needs, while preserving the status quo where needs have not changed. New legislation has to pass the democratic hurdle of Parliament. Civil Law, as adopted by most European countries and the EU, is based on a fixed code, originally devised by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century and updated in Italy in the 12th. In this tradition revisions and new laws are handed down from government; it is essentially ‘top-down’.
Another post related to this topic is “What this country needs is a benign dictatorship”