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Flaminio Costa v ENEL [1964] ECR 585 ECJ

By Oxbridge Law TeamUpdated 04/01/2024 07:14

Judgement for the case Flaminio Costa v ENEL

Table Of Contents

  • This case was concerned with the nationalisation of the Italian electricity industry, whose bills Costa refused to pay in protest (he had a stake in the private energy firm) since he said its creation breached EU law.

  • The Italian Constitutional court said that subscription to the EC was an ordinary law, subject, like any other, to repeal.


  • The ECJ ruling overturned this, saying:

    1. That upon the EEC Treaty coming into force a “new legal order” came to exist, which caused EC law to enter into domestic law and that domestic courts are “bound to enforce” it, and

    2. That “transfer from [member states’] domestic legal systems to a Community legal system” meant a loss of sovereignty and hence any subsequent act made in breach of EC law would be ineffective, since EC law would prevail.

  • This ruling established that member states couldn’t deviate from EC treaties without prior permission.

  • It also established that national high courts couldn’t determine incompatibility of national and EC law without consulting ECJ

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