Direct effect of EU law
Produced in partnership with Laura Bolado of Andes Legal Consulting Ltd
Direct effect of EU law

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Laura Bolado of Andes Legal Consulting Ltd provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Direct effect of EU law
  • What is direct effect of EU law?
  • Types of direct effect
  • Development of the doctrine of direct effect
  • Vertical direct effect
  • Primary law
  • Secondary law
  • Horizontal direct effect
  • Primary law
  • Secondary law
  • More...

What is direct effect of EU law?

The doctrine of direct effect is a fundamental principle of EU law developed by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Van Gend en Loos. It is a mechanism through which individuals can enforce rights in Member States’ courts, based on EU law—a remedy against non-compliance with EU law.

In Van Gend en Loos, the provision of EU law at issue was an article of an EU Treaty ie primary law. The transport company Van Gend & Loos had imported goods from Germany into the Netherlands and had to pay customs duties which it considered incompatible with Article 12 EEC Treaty (now Article 30 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)), which prohibits increases in customs duties in trade between Member States. The preliminary ruling was focused on the conflict between national law and the provisions of the Treaty. The Court of Justice answered the question referred by a Netherlands court by establishing the principle of direct effect, thus conferring on the transport company a direct guarantee of its rights under Community law before the national court.

The court said that:

‘...the Community constitutes a new legal order of international law for the benefit of which the states have limited their sovereign rights, albeit within limited fields, and the subjects of which comprise not only

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