P was accused of a crime (mistreating children) and Italian criminal procedure used two stages, with evidence only being taken at the second stage. Nevertheless the prosecutor asked to take evidence from the children at the first stage, on the grounds that they might otherwise forget what happened (due to age and vulnerability). P opposed this. National court referred to ECJ the question of whether national law ought to be interpreted in light of a Council Framework Decision (made under pillar 3) or whether the ‘harmonious interpretation’ duty only related to EC laws (i.e. pillar 1). ECJ held that the interpretive duty applied to pillar 3 decisions too.
ECJ: Framework decisions state a result to be achieved, which is binding. A framework decision places an obligation on national courts to interpret national laws in conformity with this goal. The fact that the ECJ has a lesser role under pillar 3, and that there are fewer procedures to ensure legality does NOT invalidate this point. It is comprehensible to say that those drafting the treaty of Amsterdam, which envisaged an ‘ever closer union’ (art.1 EU), intended legal instruments with similar effects to those in pillar 1 should contribute effectively towards Union’s objectives. Furthermore it would deprive the jurisdiction of ECJ to hear preliminary rulings under art. 35EU if it were not entitled to interpret national laws in light of framework decisions. NB It remains to be seen if other remedies like incidental effect and state liability (under Francovich) will extend to cover pillar 3 measures (Craig)
NB: It’s a matter of controversy how distinct incidental effect is from direct horizontal effect. The idea is that unimplemented directives can have a limited form of horizontal effect when they don’t actually impose obligations on respondents (but, for example, merely prevent national legislation from imposing obligations).