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Nice summit glossary Monday, 30 April, 2001, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
European Court of Justice
ECJ in session
Rulings are often severely delayed
Together with the national courts, the Court of Justice is the judicial power of the European Union.

Its job is to make sure that European law is understood in the same way across the European Union.

It can also settle disputes between the union's different institutions and member states.

The court has passed laws in such fields as employment, the environment, consumer protection and the free movement of goods and services.

It was set up at the very beginning of European integration when the European Coal and Steel Community was established in 1951.

An individual European citizen can bring a case before the ECJ if the case concerns a decision taken by a European institution.

In 1989, a Court of First Instance was established to take on some of the Court of Justice's workload but cases are still subject to lengthy delays.

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