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The “Disguised” Vertical Direct Effect of Directives?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2001

Michael Dougan*
Affiliation:
Downing College, University of Cambridge
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Extract

This paper addresses one aspect of the European Court of Justice’s troubled case-law on the direct effect of Community directives: the so-called “incidental effect” of unimplemented directives against private parties, and its uncomfortable relationship to the basic framework of legal principles so forcefully affirmed by the Court in Faccini Dori [1994] E.C.R. I-3325. It is argued that the judgments in question can perhaps best be understood as some form of “disguised” vertical direct effect, but that any such solution merely reinforces the unsatisfactory policy quandary which besets this area of Community law.

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Articles
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Copyright © Cambridge Law Journal and Contributors 2000

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Footnotes

I am very grateful to Alan Dashwood and Catherine Barnard for the useful discussions which accompanied the drafting of this article.

References

1 Case C-91/92 [1994] E.C.R. I-3325

2 Case 41/74 van Duyn [1974] E.C.R. 1337; Case 148/78 Ratti [1979] E.C.R. 1629; Case 8/81 Becker [1982] E.C.R. 53. Also: Case C-62/93 BP Supergas [1995] E.C.R. I-1883; Case C-118/94 World Wildlife Fund v. Regione Veneto [1996] E.C.R. I-1223; Cases C-74 and 129/95 Criminal Proceedings Against X [1996] E.C.R. I-6609.

3 Cf. para. 6 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam.

4 Provided also that those rights are sufficiently precise and unconditional, e.g. Cases C-6 and 9/ 90 Francovich [1991] E.C.R. I-5357; Case C-54/96 Dorsch Consult [1997] E.C.R. I-4961; Case C-131/97 Carbonari [1999] E.C.R. I-1103; Case C-365/98 Brinkmann Tabakfabriken [2000] E.C.R. I-0000 (Judgment of 15 June 2000). Further: Hartley, T., The Foundations of European Community Law, 4th ed. (Oxford 1998), pp. 187196 and 199-215Google Scholar.

5 Case 152/84 Marshall v. Southampton and South West Hampshire Area Health Authority [1986] E.C.R. 723; Case C-91/92 Faccini Dori [1994] E.C.R. I-3325.

6 E.g., Tridimas, T., “Horizontal Effect of Directives: A Missed Opportunity?” (1994) 19 E.L.Rev. 621Google Scholar; J. Coppel, “Rights, Duties and the End of Marshall’ (1994) 57 M.L.R. 859; Prechal, S., Directives in European Community Law (Oxford 1995)Google Scholar; P. Craig, “Directives: Direct Effect, Indirect Effect and the Construction of National Legislation” (1997) 22 E.L.Rev. 519; R. Mastroianni, “On the Distinction Between Vertical and Horizontal Direct Effects of Community Directives: What Role for the Principle of Equality?” (1999) 5 E.P.L. 417; Ward, A., Judicial Review and the Rights of Private Parties in EC Law (Oxford 2000)Google Scholar. Compare: I. Sebba, “The Doctrine of ‘Direct Effect’: A Malignant Disease of Community Law” 1995/2 L.I.E.I. 35; H. Schermers, “No Direct Effect for Directives” (1997) 3 E.P.L. 527.

7 Directive 76/207 [1976] O.J. L39/40.

8 For a discussion of the extent to which the imperative of uniformity remains central to the successful realisation of the Single Market within the modern Community legal order, see M. Dougan, “Minimum Harmonisation and the Internal Market” (2000) 37 C.M.L.Rev. 853.

9 A.G. Lenz in Case C-91/92 Faccini Dori [1994] E.C.R. I-3325, paras. 49-52 of the Opinion.

10 This is true as regards both Article 95 (a “Single Market” provision which nevertheless furnishes the legal basis for significant legislative action aimed at promoting common high standards of social protection) and, e.g. Articles 137, 153 and 175 (provisions which sanction the Community to pursue independent policies in the field of social, consumer and environmental protection, respectively). However, compare Articles 149, 150 and 151 of the Treaty, which limit the potential use of the directive as a vehicle for advancing Community policies on education, vocational training and culture, respectively, i.e. by excluding expressly any harmonisation of domestic laws.

11 A.G. Léger in Case C-214/94 Boukhalfa [1996] E.C.R. I-2253, para. 63 of the Opinion. Also: A.G. La Pergola in Cases C-4-5/95 Stober and Pereira [1997] E.C.R. I-511, para. 51 of the Opinion.

12 A.G. Lenz in Case C-91/92 Faccini Dori [1994] E.C.R. I-3325, para. 53 of the Opinion.

13 Case 43/75 Defrenne v. Sabena [1976] E.C.R. 455. Cf. the Court's recent decision confirming the full horizontal direct effect of Article 39 on free movement for workers and the accompanying prohibition on discrimination on grounds of nationality: Case C-281/98 Angonese [2000] E.C.R. I-0000 (Judgment of 6 June 2000); [2000] 2 C.M.L.R. 1120.

14 Cf. Case C-129/96 Inter-Environnement Wallonie v. Region Wallonne [1997] E.C.R. I-7411, where the Court of Justice threw some light on the nature of the Member State's obligations during the period before the deadline for transposition of the directive has expired.

15 Case 222/84 Johnston v. Chief Constable of the RUC [1986] E.C.R. 1651; Case 152/84 Marshall v. Southampton and South West Hampshire Area Health Authority [1986] E.C.R. 723; Case 103/88 Fratelli Costanzo [1989] E.C.R. 1839; Case C-188/89 Foster v. British Gas [1990] E.C.R. I-3313. Examples from the English courts: Griffin v. South-West Water Services Ltd. [1995] I.R.L.R. 15; NUT v. Governing Body of St. Mary's Church of England Junior School [1997] 3 C.M.L.R. 630.

16 Case 14/83 von Colson [1984] E.C.R. 1891; Case 80/86 Kolpinghuis Nijmegen [1987] E.C.R. 3969; Case C-106/89 Marleasing [1990] E.C.R. I-4135; Case C-334/92 Wagner Miret [1993] E.C.R. I-6911; Case C-168/95 Luciano Arcaro [1996] E.C.R. I-4705. Cf. A.G. Fennelly in Case C-111/97 EvoBus Austria [1998] E.C.R. I-5411, paras. 16-20 of the Opinion.

17 The most important judgments are those in Cases C-6 and 9/90 Francovich [1991] E.C.R. I5357 and Cases C-46 and 48/93 Brasserie du Pêcheur and Factortame III [1996] E.C.R. I-1029. Also: Case C-392/93 R. v. HM Treasury, ex parte British Telecommunications [1996] E.C.R. I1631; Case C-5/94 R. v. MAFF, ex parte Hedley Lomas [1996] E.C.R. I-2553; Cases C-178- 179 and 188-190/94 Dillenkofer [1996] E.C.R. I-4845.

18 E.g., Cases C-178-179 and 188-190/94 Dillenkofer [1996] E.C.R. I-4845; Case C-140/97 Rechberger [1999] E.C.R. I-3499; [2000] 2 C.M.L.R. 1. However, consider the limits to Member State liability in respect of the non- or incorrect implementation of directives which result from the judgments in Case C-392/93 R. v. HM Treasury, ex parte British Telecommunications [1996] E.C.R. I-1631 and Case C-319/96 Brinkmann Tabakfabriken v. Skatteministeriet [1998] E.C.R. I-5255. Consider also the limits to the compensation recoverable from a defaulting Member State as set out in Cases C-94-95/95 Bonifaci [1997] E.C.R. I-3969, Case C-373/95 Maso [1997] E.C.R. I-4051 and Case C-261/95 Palmisani [1997] E.C.R. I-4025 (discussed by M. Dougan, “The Francovich Right to Reparation: Reshaping the Contours of Community Remedial Competence” (2000) 6 E.P.L 103). Consider finally the discretion left to the Member State in nominating the specific public authority actually responsible for making reparation pursuant to a finding of Francovich liability: Case C-302/97 Klaus Konle [1999] E.C.R. I-3099; [2000] 2 C.M.L.R. 963.

19 perhaps inspired by the fact that, when the Court sought their opinions prior to delivering its judgment in Dori, eleven of the (then) twelve Member States rejected the idea of extending horizontal direct effect to unimplemented directives.

20 E.g., Case C-472/93 Spano v. Fiat [1995] E.C.R. I-4321; Case C-192/94 El Corte Ingles [1996] E.C.R. I-1281; Case C-97/96 Daihatsu Deutschland [1997] E.C.R. I-6843; Cases C-253-258/96 Kampelmann [1997] E.C.R. I-6907; Case C-185/97 Coote v. Granada Hospitality [1998] E.C.R. I-5199; Case C-2/97 Borsana [1998] E.C.R. I-8597.

21 Directive 76/207 [1976] O.J. L39/40.

22 As interpreted by the Court of Justice in Case 14/83 von Colson [1984] E.C.R. 1891, Case 222/ 84 Johnston v. Chief Constable of the RUC [1986] E.C.R. 1651 and Case C-271/91 Marshall v. Southampton and South West Hampshire Area Health Authority (No. 2) [1993] E.C.R. I-4367.

23 Case C-180/95 Draehmpaehl [1997] E.C.R. I-2195. Also: Case C-177/88 Dekker [1990] E.C.R. I-3941.

24 Ward, A., “New Frontiers in Private Enforcement of EC Directives” (1998) 23 E.L.Rev. 65Google Scholar.

25 In particular: Case 33/76 Rewe-Zentralfinanz v. Landwirtschaftskammer fur das Saarland [1976] E.C.R. 1989 and Case 45/76 Comet [1976] E.C.R. 2043; Case 199/82 San Giorgio [1983] E.C.R. 3595; Case C-213/89 Factortame [1990] E.C.R. I-2433; Cases C-6 and 9/90 Francovich [1991] E.C.R. I-5357; Case C-312/93 Peterbroeck [1995] E.C.R. I-4599.

26 E.g., Case C-60/92 Otto v. Postbank [1993] E.C.R. I-5683; Cases C-430-431/93 Van Schijndel [1995] E.C.R. I-4705; Case C-326/96 Levez v. Jennings (Harlow Pools) Ltd. [1998] E.C.R. I7835; Case C-126/97 Eco Swiss China Time v. Benetton International [1999] E.C.R. I-3055. Cf. A.G. Van Gerven in Case C-128/92 Banks v. British Coal Corporation [1994] E.C.R. I-1209.

27 Cf. the relationship between Article 141 of the Treaty and Directive 75/117 [1975] O.J. L45/ 19: the Court of Justice has consistently held that the latter measure merely codifies/clarifies the principle of equal pay for men and women set out in the Treaty itself, particularly as regards the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. As such, the Directive can be relied upon in proceedings against both public and private employers, e.g. Case 96/80 Jenkins v. Kingsgate Ltd. [1981] E.C.R. 911. Note that the principle of equal pay for work of equal value was incorporated into the text of Article 141 itself by the Treaty of Amsterdam.

28 E.g., Article 6 of the Collective Redundancies Directive 98/59 [1998] O.J. L225/16; Article 7a of the Acquired Rights Directive 77/187 [1977] O.J. L61/26 (as amended by Directive 98/50 [1998] O.J. L201/88); Article 8(1) of the Conditions of Employment Directive 91/533 [1991] O.J. L288/32; Article 14 of the Protection of Young People at Work Directive 94/33 [1994] O.J. L216/12.

29 Similarly, one might argue that the Member State should be able to enforce an express “effective sanctions” clause vertically against an individual who has breached his/her obligations under the applicable Community directive, i.e. insofar as the latter merely codifies the Member State's prior duty under Article 10 of the Treaty (as interpreted by the Court of Justice in Case 68/88 Commission v. Greece [1989] E.C.R. 2965) to take effective, proportionate and dissuasive action against those who breach their Community obligations. However, compare the views of A.G. Cosmas in Case C-97/96 Daihatsu Deutschland [1997] E.C.R. I-6843, paras. 27-34 of the Opinion.

30 For further discussion of this issue, see Dougan, M., “The Equal Treatment Directive: Retaliation, Remedies and Direct Effect” (1999) 24 E.L.Rev. 664Google Scholar.

31 [1986] O.J. L382/17.

32 Case C-215/97 Bellone v. Yokohama [1998] E.C.R. I-2191.

33 Ibid., at paras. 26-28 and 38 of the Opinion. This interpretation has been adopted by A.G. Jacobs in Case C-456/98 Centrosteel v. Adipol (Opinion delivered on 16 March 2000; Judgment pending). In similar vein: Case C-32/93 Webb v. EMO Air Cargo [1994] E.C.R. I3567; Case C-129/94 Ruiz Bernaldez [1996] E.C.R. I-1829; Case C-423/97 Travel-Vac v. Sanchis [1999] E.C.R. I-2195. Cf. Editorial Comments, “The Incidental Effect of Directives” (1999) 24 E.L.Rev. 1.

34 E.g., Case C-106/89 Marleasing [1990] E.C.R. I-4135; Case C-472/93 Spano v. Fiat [1995] E.C.R. I-4321; Case C-192/94 El Corte Ingles [1996] E.C.R. I-1281; Case C-97/96 Daihatsu Deutschland [1997] E.C.R. I-6843.

35 [1983] O.J. L109/8. This measure and its subsequent amendments have now been repealed and consolidated by Directive 98/34 [1998] O.J. L204/37.

36 Case C-194/94 CIA Security v. Signalson [1996] E.C.R. I-2201. Affirmed in Case C-13/96 Bic Benelux [1997] E.C.R. I-1753; distinguished in Case C-226/97 Martinus Lemmens [1998] E.C.R. I-3711. Cf. A.G. Léger in Cases C-425-427/97 Albers [1999] E.C.R. I-2947.

37 [1976] O.J. L262/169.

38 To this extent duplicating the provisions of Article 28 of the EC Treaty (as interpreted by the Court of Justice in Case 120/78 ‘‘Cassis de Dijon” [1979] E.C.R. 649), which the Directive was designed to supplement.

39 Case C-77/97 Unilever v. Smithkline Beecham [1999] E.C.R. I-431. Also: Case C-220/98 Estée Lauder v. Lancaster [2000] E.C.R. I-117.

40 [1977] O.J. L26/1.

41 Case C-441/93 Pafitis [1996] E.C.R. I-1347. Cf. Case C-367/96 Alexandros Kefalas [1998] E.C.R. I-2843; Case C-373/97 Diamantis [2000] E.C.R. I-0000 (Judgment of 23 March 2000).

42 PJ. Slot, Casenote on CIA Security (1996) 33 C.M.L.Rev. 1035; J. Stuyck, Casenote on El Corte Inglés, Ruiz Bernaldez and Pafitis (1996) 33 C.M.L.Rev. 1261; J. Coppel, Casenote on CIA Security (1997) 26 I.L.J. 69; C. Timmermans, “Community Directives Revisited” (1997) 17 Y.B.E.L. 1; Craig, P. and de Burca, G., EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 2nd ed. (Oxford 1998), pp. 206210Google Scholar; K. Lackhoff and H. Nyssens, “Direct Effect of Directives in Triangular Situations” (1998) 23 E.L.Rev. 397; C. Hilson and T Downes, “Making Sense of Rights: Community Rights in EC Law” (1999) 24 E.L.Rev. 121.

43 Case C-194/94 CIA Security v. Signalson [1996] E.C.R. I-2201, paras. 54-73 of the Opinion. Cf. A.G. Fennelly in Case C-226/97 Martinus Lemmens [1998] E.C.R. I-3711, para. 32 of the Opinion.

44 Case C-2/97 Borsana [1998] E.C.R. I-8597; Case C-185/97 Coote v. Granada Hospitality [1998] E.C.R. I-5199.

45 Case C-443/98 Unilever Italia v. Central Food (Opinion delivered on 27 January 2000; Judgment pending).

46 Directive 93/13 [1993] O.J. L95/29 and Directive 93/104 [1993] O.J. L307/18, respectively.

47 Further: S. Weatherill, “Compulsory Notification of Draft Technical Regulations: The Contribution of Directive 83/189 to the Management of the Internal Market” (1996) 16 Y.B.E.L. 129.

48 Case C-226/97 Martinus Lemmens [1998] E.C.R. I-3711, paras. 32-36 of the Judgment.

49 E.g., Case 380/87 Enichem Base [1989] E.C.R. 2491. Also: Case C-235/95 Dumon [1998] E.C.R. I-4531. Cf. Case 174/84 Bulk Oil [1986] E.C.R. 559.

50 Consider the similar position reached by the Court as regards Article 95(4)-(9) of the EC Treaty: Case C-41/93 France v. Commission [1994] E.C.R. I-1829; Case C-319/97 Kortas [1999] E.C.R. I-3143.

51 Case 26/62 van Gend en Loos [1963] E.C.R. 1.

52 Case 41/74 van Duyn [1974] E.C.R. 1337; Case 148/78 Ratti [1979] E.C.R. 1629; Case C-72/95 Kraaijeveld [1996] E.C.R. I-5403; Case C-435/97 World Wildlife Fund v. Autonome Provinz Bozen [1999] E.C.R. I-5613; [2000] 1 C.M.L.R. 149.

53 Note that several Advocates General have used the vocabulary of direct effect to describe the operation of Article 8 of Directive 83/189 within the domestic legal orders, e.g. A.G. Elmer in Case C-194/94 CIA Security v. Signalson [1996] E.C.R. I-2201, paras. 68-69 of the Opinion; A.G. Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer in Case C-13/96 Bic Benelux [1997] E.C.R. I-1753, para. 18 of the Opinion; A.G. Fennelly in Case C-226/97 Martinus Lemmens [1998] E.C.R. I-3711, para. 25 of the Opinion.

54 [1976] O.J. L39/40.

55 [1985] O.J. L372/31.

56 Another example might be Directive 64/221 [1964] O.J. 850/64, [1964] O.J. Special English Edition 117, regulating the Member States’ ability to derogate from the Treaty's free movement of persons provisions on grounds of public policy, public security or public health.

57 Note that Article 28 of the EC Treaty (which Directive 76/768 is designed to supplement) itself appears not to have horizontal effect as against purely private parties whose conduct disrupts the free movement of goods: see further K. Muylle, “Angry Farmers and Passive Policemen: Private Conduct and the Free Movement of Goods” (1998) 23 E.L.Rev. 467 and M. Jarvis, Casenote on Commission v. France (1998) 35 C.M.L.Rev. 1371; cf. Case C-265/95 Commission v. France [1997] E.C.R. I-6959; and compare with the position as regards the horizontal direct effect of the Treaty's free movement of persons provisions, as set out, e.g. in Case C-415/93 Bosman [1995] E.C.R. I-4921 and Case C-281/98 Angonese [2000] E.C.R. I0000 (Judgment of 6 June 2000); [2000] 2 C.M.L.R. 1120. However, a breach of Article 28 by the Member State or other public authority can still be relied upon in a dispute between two individuals, e.g. Case 74/76 Iannelli & Volpi v. Meroni [1977] E.C.R. 557; Case C-315/92 Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb v. Clinique Laboratories [1994] E.C.R. I-317.

58 [1971] O.J. L185/5.

59 Case 103/88 Fratelli Costanzo [1989] E.C.R. 1839.

60 [1985] O.J. L175/40.

61 Case C-435/97 World Wildlife Fund v. Autonome Provinz Bozen [1999] E.C.R. I-5613; [2000] 1 C.M.L.R. 149. Also: Case C-72/95 Kraaijeveld [1996] E.C.R. I-5403. There appears to be some debate about whether the intended beneficiaries of measures such as the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive should properly be seen as enjoying “rights” enforceable through the legal process, or merely “interests” which are sufficient to confer standing to challenge another party's conduct before the courts, e.g. C. Hilson and T. Downes, “Making Sense of Rights: Community Rights in EC Law” (1999) 24 E.L.Rev. 121; C. Boch, “The Iroquois at the Kirchberg; Or, Some Naïve Remarks on the Status and Relevance of Direct Effect” in Usher, J. (ed.), The State of the European Union: Structure, Enlargement and Economic Union (Harlow 2000)Google Scholar.

62 This view seems to be supported by Editorial Comments, “The Incidental Effect of Directives” (1999) 24 E.L.Rev. 1.

63 Cf. A.G. Jacobs in Unilever Italia v. Central Foods, paras. 101 and 112 of the Opinion delivered on 27 January 2000 (Judgment pending), highlighting the injustice of holding the private individual responsible for a breach by the Member State of its substantive Community law duties, even more so than of its mere administrative obligations.

64 [1977] O.J. L61/26.

65 Case C-472/93 Spano v. Fiat [1995] E.C.R. I-4321. Also: Case C-192/94 El Corte Inglés [1996] E.C.R. I-1281; Case C-97/96 Daihatsu Deutschland [1997] E.C.R. I-6843; Case C-215/97 Bellone v. Yokohama [1998] E.C.R. I-2191.