A more recent version of these Supremacy Direct Effect notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL EU Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
EU Law: Supremacy & Direct Effect
?????EEC Treaty (1957): Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community
?????Now two primary treaties of the EU: o TFEU (2007): Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. o TEU (2007): Treaty on European Union. A new legal order
? Primary mechanisms in EEC Treaty for enforcing the obligations of Member States: Articles 169 and 170 EEC. o Article 169 EEC: empowered Commission to bring a case to Court of Justice against a MS for not fulfilling Treaty obligations. o Article 170 EEC: MS may bring case against another MS. o These now provided by Articles 258 and 269 TFEU.
? Article 177 EEC (now Article 267 TFEU): national courts can refer to CofJustice questions on interpretation of EEC Treaty.
? No reference in EEC treaty to obligations under EEC law being directly enforceable I national courts. Remains same under TFEU and TEU. Van Gend en Loos (1963) and principle of direct effect
? ECJ established a new legal order.
? Facts: Van Gend en Loos imported urea formaldehyde from West Germany in 1960; Dutch authorities raised the tariff from 3% to 8%. Van Gend en Loos argued that Article 12 EEC (against increasing custom duties) gave rights to individuals which could be protected in courts of MSs.
? ECJ ruled that the EEC Treaty was something more than a regular international agreement creating obligations between States. That the Community constitutes a 'new legal order of international law' for the benefit of which states have limited their sovereign rights; and the subjects of which compromise not only MSs but also their nationals. EU law imposes not only obligations on individuals but also rights. Article 12 EEC imposed such a right.
? Ruled that Article 12 EEC conferred a right on individuals which could be upheld in national courts. Had direct effect in national legal systems of MSs.
? Principle of Direct Effect: So established that treaty articles can have effect directly within the national legal systems of MSs, by conferring individual rights which national courts are required to protect. Supremacy of EU Law
? Van Gend en Loos paved way for a second central principle of EU law.
Costa v ENEL (1964). Costa argued that the nationalisation by the Italian state of an Italian electricity company was contrary to Community law.
? ECJ ruled that the Treaty had established a new legal order which limited their sovereign rights---
? Principle of supremacy of EU law: takes precedent over national law.
? Also established in Internationale Handelsgesellchaft (1970): EU law precedence even over the national constitutional law of a MS including fundamental rights granted by that constitution.
? Simmenthal (1978): a national court must not wait for a national measure which conflicted with EU law to be set aside by a national authority. o Nationals courts must disapply incompatible national laws. o Irrespective of whether the national laws were introduced before or after the EU measure.
? ECJ has never used the word 'supremacy'. Rather 'precedence'/'priority'. Recently, 'primacy of EU law'---formally recognised in Declaration 17 of Lisbon Treaty 2007. Direct effect vs directly applicable
? 'Directly applicable': in Article 288 TFEU, which specifies forms of secondary legislation---a regulation is 'directly applicable' in all MSs (i.e. doesn't need to be implemented into domestic law of MSs). Unlike directives, which leave MSs to decide 'form and method'.
? 'Direct effect' = provisions of EU law may, even without transposition by MSs, give rise to immediate rights which can be enforced by individuals within national legal systems of MSs. Van Gend en Loos criteria for direct effect
? Criteria: o (1) Provision must be sufficiently clear and precise to give rise to an identifiable individual right. Cooperativa Agricola (1996): 'precise = sets out an obligation in unequivocal terms'. o (2) It must be unconditional. As defined in Cooperativa Agricola (1996): 'unconditional= sets forth an obligation which is (a) not qualified by any condition, or (b) subject, in its implementation or effects, to the taking of any measure either by the Community institutions or by the Member States . . . '
?????ECJ flexible in interpreting these criteria.
?????Defrenne v SABENA (1976): ECJ ruled that Article 199 EEC was sufficiently clear and precise and could be enforced in national courts regarding direct discrimination (eg equal pay), but not more indirect and disguised forms of discrimination, for which more explicit measures would be necessary for direct effect to apply.
?????Other egs (no direct effect of directives, didn't fulfil criteria):
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