by José Ricardo Sousa, student of the Master's degree in EU Law of UMinho
Keywords: EU law application; national law; legal orders; uniformity; free movement of goods.
Court: CJEU | Date: March 9th 1978 | Case: 106/77 | Applicants: Simmenthal S.p.A. vs Amministrazione Delle Finanze pello Stato
Summary: On 26th July 1973 Simmenthal imported beef for human consumption from France and they had to pay its respective fee importation for public health inspection. About this matter, it was Simmenthal’s opinion that this inspection clearly violated the fundamental principles of Common Market (in this case, free movement of goods). So, Simental brought an action to court with the intention to be repaid for the mentioned illegal (for their point of view) fee. The Court, Pretore di Suza accepted Simmenthal arguments and condemned Administrazione delle Finanze pello Stato (therefore, administrazione) to repay the company. Not satisfied with the decision, Admnistrazione appealed against the order to repay arguing with some rulings by the constitutional jurisdiction regarding the conflict between Community law and National law. The Court suspended and referred a question to CJEU:
Since, in accordance with Article 189 of the EEC Treaty and the established case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, directly applicable Community provisions must, notwithstanding any internal rule or practice whatsoever of the Member States, have full, complete and uniform effect in their legal systems in order to protect subjective legal rights created in favour of individuals, is the scope of the said provisions to be interpreted to the effect that any subsequent national measures which conflict with those provisions must be forthwith disregarded without waiting until those measures have been eliminated by action on the pan of the national legislature concerned (repeal) or of other constitutional authorities (declaration that they are unconstitutional) especially, in the case of the latter alternative, where, since the national law continues to be fully effective pending such declaration, it is impossible to apply the Community provisions and, in consequence, to ensure that they are fully, completely and uniformly applied and to protect the legal rights created in favour of individuals?
CJEU started the answer referring that community laws have to be fully and uniformly applied in all Member States. One of the main functions of precedence of Community Law, provisions of the EEC Treaty and directly applicable measures were to prevent incompatible national laws with the European legislation. Thus, any court was allowed to send any question about the interpretation of Community legislations to CJEU and the judges had the duty to protect individual’s rights from illegal provisions from national law. The judge must to put away any National legislation that have the intention to limit the precedence of Community Law and respectively, Community legislation or principles.