Forskergruppen for EU/EØS konkurranse- og markedsrett

Research Project

Effectiveness and Application of EU & EEA law in National Courts

International research project focussing on the reception of several key EU and EEA legal principles by national courts in the European Economic Area.

National reporters from 15 EEA Member States are committed to the first stage of this comparative international research project.

About the project

In the current decentralized system of EU and EEA law enforcement, national courts play a pivotal role in securing the effectiveness and application of the law. A great deal of legal research has been expounded over the years concerning how and to what extent the EU and EFTA Courts in preliminary rulings and advisory opinions have sought to determine the more precise scope and content of three of the key mechanisms for doing so – namely the principles of direct effect, indirect effect (or consistent interpretation) and state liability. Much less attention has been paid to how national courts charged with the duty of applying these principles actually do so when cases return to them for final determination. This is in many ways surprising, since the remit and limits to these EU/EEA principles can only be fully appreciated and understood if one looks beyond the decisions of the EU and EFTA Court, and to the final outcome of the cases at national level. Yet for obvious reasons connected to our linguistic abilities (or lack thereof), attempting to delve into judgments of national courts of other countries and academic literature which might broach such issues from a national perspective will nevertheless often prove a rather daunting (if not impossible) task.

One of the few attempts to map out national reception of EU principles in the particular field of environmental law has nevertheless revealed a startling lack of uniformity in their understanding and application.[1] Such a lack of uniformity may naturally serve to challenge the very coherence of the EU/EEA legal order as a whole. Similar trends may indeed also be seen to be emerging in other EU/EEA law fields. This project will therefore seek to build further on this general line of enquiry, by gathering young and ambitious researchers from all over Europe to discuss the particular reception of the fundamental principles of direct effect, consistent interpretation and state liability in their home states, through analyses of national case-law and practice. This will in turn allow us to tap into a broader, highly topical discussion raised over the past year concerning the very nature of the dialogue and cooperation between the EU and EFTA Courts and national courts of the Member States. Attempts will also be made to uncover and compare the reasons (constitutional, political, cultural etc.) which might serve to explain divergent national practices.

The main aim of the project is therefore to seek to shed some light on the application and effectiveness of EU and EEA law at national level through a series of three conferences/workshops over a five year period (2015-2020), based on written national reports from a selection of EEA Member States representing different legal traditions and cultures.

The national reports from each workshop will be published in separate anthologies, accompanied by a general report to be drafted by the project leader, which will seek to draw the lines – i.e. general trends, commonalities and differences – between them. On certain issues, and subject to the amount of funding, an institutional report may also be of value to the project.

The first stage of the project got underway in 2015 and is focussed on the reception of the principle of consistent interpretation at national level. There are currently 15 national reporters connected to the project, which is being led by Associate Professor Christian Franklin.

A list of the national reporters and the questionnaire they have been working on are attached below.

The first 2 day workshop on the project will be held in Bergen on 25-26 August 2016.


[1] J.H. Hans, R. Macrory & A.-M. Moreno Molina, National Courts and EU Environmental Law, 2013 Europa Law Publishing Groningen.