P applied for a refund + interest of import charges they had been forced to pay Germany in breach of the Treaty. The national time limit for challenging the charges had passed. German court asked ECJ whether community law required that the remedy sought be granted. ECJ held that, in the absence of Community rules on procedure, it is up to the member states to apply their national procedural rules to determine whether the remedy can be granted. Therefore, here, the remedy didn’t have to be granted.
ECJ: In accordance with the principle of cooperation set out in art 5 of the Treaty it is the NCs who are entrusted with ensuring the legal protection that citizens derive from community provisions which confer direct effect. It is for each MS to determine procedural rules for itself. Two qualifications to this apply: (1) Principle of ‘equivalence’: “such [procedural] conditions [for EC law actions] cannot be less favourable than those relating to similar actions of a domestic nature”. (2) Principle of practical possibility: “The position [nationa procedural autonomy] would only be different if if the conditions and time limits made it impossible in practice to exercise the rights which the national courts are obliged to protect.”