Report on Costa v ENEL
The following report gives a short overview on the judgment of the European Court of Justice of 15 July 1964, the so called Costa v ENEL case. Besides the judgment itself the report also refers to the treaty on European Union and the treaty establishing the European Community as well as to the book “Comparative Law in a Changing World”. Due to article 234 (ex 177) EC, giving the European Court of Justice the jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings concerning among others the interpretation of the treaty, the Giudice Conciliatore, Milan, approached the ECJ to interpret the articles 97 (ex 102), 88 (ex 93), the former article 53 (later repealed by the Treaty of Amsterdam) and 31 (ex 37) EC . The case summoned before this court was an unpaid bill presented by the new nationalized electricity company ENEL. The debtor Flaminio Costa, “a shareholder in [formerly] the Edison Volta, argued that he had suffered injury through the nationalisation of the facilities for the production and distribution of electricity in the country” (de Cruz, 2010). “He submitted in his defence that the nationalisation law was contrary to the Treaty of Rome” (de Cruz, 2010). The ECJ elaborates in its judgment that though it “has no jurisdiction to apply the treaty to a specific case” (Costa v ENEL, 1964), national courts “must refer the matter to the court of justice … whenever a question of interpretation is raised before them” (Costa v ENEL, 1964). It also refuses the opinion of the Italian government saying the request of the Giudice Conciliatore is ‘absolutely inadmisseble’, “inasmuch as a national court which is obliged to apply a national law cannot avail itself of article 234 (ex 177) [EC]” (Costa v ENEL, 1964). The ECJ explains that the commission has the duty of seeing that the member states respect the obligations which have been imposed upon them by the treaty. It points out that “the EEC treaty has created its own legal system which … became an integral...
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