Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Latest news News News articles

Study of judges’ involvement with European law

08 November 2011

Most Dutch and German civil court judges support European integration. They accept EU expectations regarding their role as decentralized judges and they have faith in the European Court of Justice. Their perception of European law is based mainly on the problems and possibilities they are confronted with in their judicial work. These are the findings of a study by Tobias Nowak, Marc Hertogh and Mark Wissink of the University of Groningen and fellow academic Fabian Amtenbrink of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Dutch and German civil court judges consider that they have far less knowledge of European law than domestic law. Given their heavy workloads and the limited time they have to study European law, their familiarity with a particular area or issue in it can determine their willingness to apply it. Dutch judges are more likely to take a course in European law than their German counterparts, and they are also supported by European law coordinators. Nevertheless, Dutch judges – like their German counterparts – would like more information about European law if it improves their ability to identify and understand potential issues in it.

Empirical research

Nowak, Amtenbrink, Hertogh and Wissink did empirical research among judges from the Netherlands and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, focusing on their experience and knowledge of European law and opinions on it. Some 300 judges took part in the survey for the study, and face-to-face interviews were conducted with 28 judges.

These are civil judges working in district courts and courts of appeal, adjudicating a wide range of disputes between private individuals and companies. Most Dutch and German judges said they do not have many cases involving European law, which has a limited effect on the cases they deal with. Those judges concerned mainly with highly Europeanized areas of private law apply that area of European law more or less as a matter of routine.


Based on the study the researchers made policy recommendations with the aim of providing better support to domestic judges with the application of EU law. The researchers also recommended that EU law should be included in the general discussion of private-law issues in the domestic legal literature. Lastly, the European Court of Justice and the highest domestic courts need to explain more clearly what they expect of domestic judges in their role as decentralized EU judges.

More information

Dr Tobias Nowak

See also: National Judges as European Union Judges

Last modified:24 March 2023 10.51 a.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

More news

  • 28 March 2023

    A leap of faith: from research to enterprise

    Having ideas, experimenting and trying things out, wanting to change society. For many researchers, all of this is day-to-day business. But what if you want to take your idea to market? This is a step that often does not come naturally to...

  • 21 March 2023

    Clearing court backlogs through plea bargaining

    The Dutch court system is severely backed up. The number of cases is increasing and court proceedings are dragging on. For nearly two decades now, Laura Peters, lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen, has studied — and...

  • 14 February 2023

    Lift to the inclusive workplace

    There is plenty of work, and yet people with a disability are still often sidelined. One plus one is two, or so you’d think: this is the perfect time to help this group of workers find a job. The intention is there, also within the University, but...