Here's what the abstract states:
"This article extracts from Alter's larger body of work insights on how the political and social context shapes the ECJ's political power and influence. Part I considers how the political context facilitated the constitutionalization of the European legal system. Part II considers how the political context helps determine where and when the current ECJ influences European politics. Part III draws lessons from the ECJ's experience, speculating on how the European context in specific allowed the ECJ to become such an exceptional international court. Part IV lays out a research agenda to investigate the larger question of how social support shapes the role of judges in politics.
You can download the article here.
It is definitely worth reading. In fact, that article is part of a much larger project: Professor Alter has a book coming out on the subject as the introduction to the article makes clear:
"This article is adapted from the introduction and conclusion of my new book The European Court’s Political Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), which brings together 15 years of my articles and book chapters regarding the European Court of Justice’s political role in European politics. The introduction and conclusion pull out a common narrative from extensively researched chapters that focus on different pieces and parts of the ECJ’s history. The common story told across analyses is that the ECJ gains influence by allying with societal actors within states to encourage greater respect for European rules. The larger volume shows that societal actors do not always choose to draw the ECJ into their campaigns. Also, the ECJ’s agency matters—the ECJ at times chooses to play a minimalist role, interpreting law narrowly and even illogically when there is little social support for the law it is asked to apply. The analysis suggests that factors exogenous to the ECJ, activation by others and the presence of societal actors who share the ECJ’s substantive objectives, are the largest factors shaping the role the ECJ plays. The larger book embeds this narrative across issues and cases so that we can see what makes societal actors want to work with the ECJ, and vice versa.