In the literature the Nordic countries are always presented as obedient compliers of EU law. However, taking a slightly closer look both Nordic ministries and courts are very reluctant to interact with supranational legal EU bodies. This study which is based on a survey among Danish and Swedish judges shows that the Nordic national courts are among the least eager when it comes to forwarding preliminary references to the CJEU. Moreover, it is rarely the national judges themselves who decide which cases should go forward to Luxembourg but the Ministry of Justice. The judges themselves consent and seldom - if ever - forward a case which has not been recommended by the Ministry. The main focus of this talk will be to try to explain why the Nordic courts are so timid when it comes to interacting with supranational judicial bodies. Building on democratic theory the thesis is that countries with no tradition for judicial review by courts at the national level, will have severe difficulties accepting judicial review at a Supranational level like the EU as well. The data presented here are mainly drawn from a published project on the EU. However, data in a larger project on international law that I am currently working on confirms that national courts in majoritarian democracies very rarely – on their own account – refer to international court cases or international treaties. The overall question is of course where this leaves ordinary citizens who seek to have their rights protected? 

Professor Marlene Wind is Professor in European Politics at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen and also the Director of the Centre for European Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Marlene Wind is  a founding member of iCourts a Centre of Excellence for international courts at the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen. She is moreover Professor II at the Faculty of Law at Oslo University. Her research focuses on the interplay between law and politics in the European Union and on institutional changes within the EU. As a Professor at iCourts she works on the legitimacy of International Courts in domestic politics.

The author's articles related to this research topic are available on request. Please email


This event is organised in collaboration with the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations and the European Studies Centre, St Antony’s College.