One Claim, Two Disputes? Individuals in the Preliminary Ruling Mechanism

The preliminary ruling mechanism (PRM) is the ‘infringement procedure of the EU citizen’, as it offers individuals the possibility to take their claims to the Court of Justice. At the same time, the mechanism ensures the uniformity of EU law. This twin purpose determines the existence of two different disputes in the mechanism (‘original dispute’ and ‘EU dispute’), which are reflected in the structure of the PRM. The paper argues that this structure affects the level of protection that the mechanism can grant individuals. To empirically investigate this issue, the paper first builds an analytical framework to explore the outcomes for each dispute in the PRM. Then, it unpacks the different structural elements of the mechanism, and identifies any traces of the individual and her claim in the structure. Through this analysis, the paper assesses the possibilities and limitations of the PRM and evaluates the individuals’ real role in the mechanism.