EU law is equally authentic in 24 language versions. While such multilingualism enhances legal certainty as it enables individuals to ascertain their rights and duties under EU law in their own language, it paradoxically also reduces legal certainty, as it entails that full trust may not be placed in a single language version of EU law alone. It is indeed settled case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the true meaning of EU law is to be established by means of a purposive/systematic interpretation in the light of all the language versions. This article explores this issue in particular with regard to national court practices in the Netherlands. It is argued that, in contrast to apparent current practices, language comparison should be a default step in the interpretation and application of EU law, as otherwise discrepancies between language versions of EU law may remain unnoticed. Moreover, national courts should refer such discrepancies to the ECJ. Lastly, national courts should use their margin of appreciation to attenuate any adverse effects for individuals who acted on the basis of a diverging language version.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)5-38
Number of pages33
JournalEuropean Journal of Legal Studies
Volume11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018

    Research areas

  • EU, Multilingual Law, Discrepancies, legal certainty

ID: 39528368