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Review by Constitutional Courts of the Obligation of National Courts of Last Instance to Refer a Preliminary Question to the Court of Justice of the EU

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2019

Extract

The Constitutional Courts of a number of Member States exert a constitutional review on the obligation of national courts of last instance to make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Pursuant to Article 267(3) TFEU, national courts of last instance, namely courts or tribunals against whose decisions there is no judicial remedy under national law, are required to refer to the CJEU for a preliminary question related to the interpretation of the Treaties or the validity and interpretation of acts of European Union (EU) institutions. The CJEU specified the exceptions to this obligation in CILFIT. Indeed, national courts of last instance have a crucial role according to the devolution to national judges of the task of ensuring, in collaboration with the CJEU, the full application of EU law in all Member States and the judicial protection of individuals’ rights under EU law. With preliminary references as the keystone of the EU judicial system, the cooperation of national judges with the CJEU forms part of the EU constitutional structure in accordance with Article 19(1) TEU.

Type
Part Five
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by German Law Journal GbR 

References

1 The CJEU specified in that regard that courts whose decisions may be reviewed by the Constitutional Court, within the limits of an examination of a potential infringement of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the national constitution or by an international agreement, are courts of last instance within the meaning of Article 267(3) TFEU. Case C–416/10, Križan and Others, para. 72 (Jan. 15, 2013), http://curia.europa.eu/ and Opinion of Advocate General Kokott at para. 58, Case C–416/10, Križan and Others (Apr. 12, 2012), http://curia.europa.eu/. Moreover, it is worth pointing out that the obligation set out in Art. 267(3) TFEU applies also to Constitutional Courts. The article, however, does not focus on the role of Constitutional Courts as courts of last instance. For the sake of clarity, the references in the case law to ex Arts. 234(3) EC and 177(3) EEC are replaced by Art. 267(3) TFEU.Google Scholar

2 Case C–283/81, CILFIT v. Ministero della Sanità, 1982 E.C.R. 03415. See also Joined Cases C–28-30/62, Da Costa en Schaake NV and Others v. Administratie der Belastingen, 1963 E.C.R. 00061.Google Scholar

3 Opinion 1/09, 2011 E.C.R. I-01137, paras 66–68 and 83–86.Google Scholar

4 Opinion 2/13, para. 165 and paras. 174-76 (Dec. 18, 2014), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

5 Case C–224/01, Gerhard Köbler v. Republik Österreich, 2003 E.C.R. I–10239. In this regard, it should be pointed out that the judicial liability is not linked to the decision not to refer but to the damages produced by that decision.Google Scholar

6 Case C–173/03, Traghetti del Mediterraneo, 2006 E.C.R. I-05177; Case C–379/10, Commission v. Italy, 2011 E.C.R. I-00180; Case C–160/14, Ferreira da Silva e Brito (Sept. 9, 2015), http://curia.europa.eu/. See also Opinion of Advocate General Léger, Case C–173/03, Traghetti del Mediterraneo (Oct. 11, 2005), 2006 E.C.R. I-05177; Opinion of Advocate General Bot at para. 98, Case C–2/06, Kempter (Apr. 24, 2007), 2008 E.C.R. I–00411.Google Scholar

7 Coutron, Laurent, L'irénisme des cours europénnes, in L'obligation de renvoi prejudiciel a la Cour de Justice. Une obligation sanctionnee? 13, 46–53 (Laurent Coutron & Jean-Claude Bonichot eds., 2014).Google Scholar

8 Dhahbi v. Italy, App. No. 17120/09 (Apr. 8, 2014), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/; Schipani and others v. Italy, Appl. No. 38369/09, (July 21, 2015), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/. See Ullens de Schooten and Rezabek v. Belgium, App. Nos. 3989/07 and 38353/07 (Sept. 20, 2011), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/; John v. Germany, App. No. 15073/03 (Feb. 13, 2007), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/.Google Scholar

9 It is also worth mentioning that similar procedures concerning the judicial review of the duty to refer under Article 267(3) TFEU exist, for instance, in France. The supreme administrative court (Cour de Cassation) pointed out that the omission to refer might constitute a denial of justice (French Cour de cassation, Oct. 26, 2011, Case No. 1002). Moreover, in Sweden, national legislation reinforces the obligation to refer in that a reasoned decision is compulsory (see Lag (2006:502) med vissa bestämmelser om förhandsavgörande från Europeiska unionens domstol, 24 May 2006). These cases, nonetheless, are beyond the scope of this article since they are not based on constitutional complaints for the infringement of constitutional rights. It is also appropriate to point out that the analysis of the case law of the Constitutional Courts in question focuses on the aspects of the judgments that are relevant to the judicial review of the obligation to refer. Moreover, the article does not take into account the follow-up to the decisions of the Constitutional Courts before the concerned national courts.Google Scholar

10 The review by the Austrian Constitutional Court is confined to administrative decisions and this excludes the judgments of administrative or ordinary courts. However, it exerts its review on decisions of administrative bodies that may be regarded as court of last instance within the meaning of Article 267(3) TFEU. See, infra, section B.I.Google Scholar

11 The word “arbitrary” is used by these courts in order to define a refusal to refer to the CJEU which is based on reasons other than the criteria established by law.Google Scholar

12 Certainly, one may argue that Constitutional Courts do not enjoy jurisdiction to solve a conflict which arises between EU and national law. Constitutional Courts, in fact, have the power to decide in proceedings involving the protection of fundamental constitutional rights and to review the compliance of domestic law and, prior to their ratification, of the Treaties with the Constitution. However, they do not have jurisdiction to assess the compliance of the decisions of domestic courts of last instance with the duty provided for in Article 267(3) TFEU.Google Scholar

13 Jirí Malenovský, Le renvoi préjudiciel perçu par trois Cours “souveraines”, 200, 6, J. Droit Europeen 214, 217, (2013); see also Colloque de l'Association des Conseils d'Etats et des juridictions administratives suprěmes de l'Union européenne, 20–21 May 2002, Helsinki, http://www.aca-europe.eu/images/media_kit/colloquia/2002/gen_report_fr.pdf.Google Scholar

14 Adinolfi, Adelina, The “procedural autonomy” of Member States and the constraints stemming from the ECJ's case law: Is judicial activism still necessary?, in The European Court of Justice and the Autonomy of the Member States 282, 296 (H.W. Micklitz & Bruno de Witte eds., 2012).Google Scholar

15 This possibility also exists before the Hungarian Constitutional Court. Although a constitutional complaint against a national court's refusal to refer to the CJEU was filed, the Constitutional Court dismissed it according to domestic procedural provisions. Therefore, it did not assess whether the complaint's right to a fair trial under Article XXVIII of the Fundamental Law of Hungary was violated. See Alkotmánybíróság [Hungarian Constitutional Court], May 19, 2014, Case No 3165/2014. Georgina Naszladi, The Hungarian Constitutional Court's Judgment Concerning the Preliminary Ruling Procedure—Comments on a Rejection Order, Pécs J. Int'l & Eur. L. 37–43 (2015), available at http://epa.oszk.hu/02600/02691/00002/pdf/EPA02691_pjiel_2015_1_037-043.pdf.Google Scholar

16 See Opinion of Advocate General Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer at para. 29, Case C– 14/08, Roda Golf (Mar. 5, 2009), 2009 E.C.R. I-05439 (“Access to justice is a fundamental pillar of western legal culture. ‘To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice’ proclaimed the Magna Carta in 1215, expressing an axiom which has remained in force in Europe to the extent that it features in the European Convention on Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the case law of the Court. Therefore, the right to effective legal protection is one of the general principles of Community law, in accordance with which access to justice is organised.”). Daniel Sarmiento, National Voice and European loyalty. Member States Autonomy, European Remedies and Constitutional Pluralism in EU Law, in The European Court of Justice and the Autonomy of the Member States 340 (H.W. Micklitz & Bruno de Witte eds., 2012).Google Scholar

17 Kanninen, Heikki, La marge de manœuvre de la juridiction suprěme national pour procéder à un renvoi préjudiciel à la Cour de justice des Communautés européennes, in Une Communaute de droit 611, 620 (Ninon Colneric ed., 2003).Google Scholar

18 Joined Cases 28–30/62, Da Costa; Case C–364/92, SAT Fluggesellschaft v. Eurocontrol, 1994 E.C.R. I–00043, paras. 8-9; Case 40/70, Sirena v. Eda, 1979 E.C.R. I–03169; Case C–402/98, ATB and Others, 2000 I–05501, para. 29; Case C–2/06, Kempter, 2008 E.C.R. I-00411, para. 41. Arjen Meij, The Rules of the Game. Party Autonomy in the EU Courts, in De regels en het spel. opstellen over recht, filosofie, literatuur en geschiedenis aangeboden aan Tom Eijsbouts 261, 273 (Jan-Herman Reestman, Annette Schrauwen, Manet Van Montfrans & Jan Jans eds., 2011); Bonichot, Jean-Claude, Le rôle des parties au principal dans le traitement des questions préjudicielles, 227–28, Gazette du Palais 16 (2013).Google Scholar

19 See, e.g., Case C–166/73, Rheinmühlen, 1974 E.C.R. I-00033; Case C–188/10 and C–189/10, Melki and Abdeli, 2010 E.C.R. I-05667; Case C–210/06, CARTESIO Oktató és Szolgáltató bt., 2008 E.C.R. I–09641; Križan and Others, Case C–416/10; Case C–112/13, A v. B and Others, (Sept. 11, 2014), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

20 CILFIT, Case C–283/81; Da Costa, Joined Cases 28–30/62.Google Scholar

21 Case C–314/85, Foto-Frost v. Hauptzollamt Lübeck-Ost, 1987 E.C.R. I–04199.Google Scholar

22 These two approaches diverge in their starting point concerning the assessment of whether the refusal to refer of a domestic court of last instance infringes a constitutional right. However, they both reach the same outcome: under certain circumstances, the (arbitrary) refusal to refer to the CJEU may violate the constitutional right under consideration.Google Scholar

23 For a comment on the approaches of a number of Constitutional Courts as regards their relationship with the CJEU after the Treaty of Lisbon. See Kruma, Kristine, Constitutional Courts and the Lisbon Treaty: The future on mutual trust, in The Area of Freedom, Security and Justice Ten Years on. Successes and Future Challenges Under the Stockholm Programme, CEPS 38, 48 (Guild, Carrera & Eggenschwiler eds., 2010).Google Scholar

24 This Constitutional Court has developed extensive case law concerning its relationship with the CJEU. In this context, the role of the preliminary reference procedure to the CJEU is particularly interesting. See, e.g., Asterios Pliakos & Georgios Anagnostaras, Who is the Ultimate Arbiter? The Battle over Judicial Supremacy in EU law, 36 ELR, 109-23 (2011); Luebbe-Wolff, Gertrude, Who has the last word? National and Transnational Courts—Conflict and Cooperation, 30 Y.B. Eur. L. (2011); Kumm, Mattias, Who is the final arbiter of Constitutionality in Europe?: Three conceptions of the relationship between the German Federal Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice, 36 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 351, 386 (1999). For a critical view as regards the reasoning of the German Federal Constitutional Court inasmuch as it considers that the CJEU is to be seen as a lawful judge, see Meij, supra note 18, at 265. Meij stresses that, since the preliminary reference procedure constitutes an incident in the proceeding before the national court and it is for the latter to decide the dispute, it is questionable whether one may distinguish two lawful judges in one case.Google Scholar

25 See Art. 93, § 1, sentence 4 bis, Basic Law; Arts. 13, sentence 8 bis, and 90, § 1, Bundersverfassungsgerichtsgesetz (the Federal Law concerning the procedural rules before the Constitutional Court). Renate Jaeger and Siegfried Broß, The relations between the Constitutional courts and the other national courts, including the interference in this area of the action of the European Court. Report of the Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany, Conference of European Constitutional Courts XIIth Congress (Warsaw 16–17 May 1999), http://www.confcoconsteu.org/reports/rep-xii/Duitsland-EN.pdf; Rupp, Hans G., Judicial Review in the Federal Republic of Germany, Vol. 9, n. 1, The American Journal of Comparative Law, 29–30 (1960).Google Scholar

26 Beyer-Katzenberger, Malte, Judicial activism and judicial restraint at the Bundesverfassungsgericht: Was the Mangold judgement of the European Court of Justice an ultra vires act?, 11(4), ERA-Forum 517, 521 (2011).Google Scholar

27 According to Article 92 of the Federal Constitutional Act, the reasons for the complaint shall specify the right which is claimed to have been violated, and the act or omission of the organ or authority by which the complainant claims to have been harmed. In other words, an individual, who believes that an ordinary court has violated its duty to refer to the CJEU under Article 267(3) TFEU, can challenge such a decision before the Federal Constitutional Court, by claiming a violation of the constitutional right to a lawful judge within the limits of Article 101, section 1, sentence 2 of the Basic Law.Google Scholar

28 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], July 25, 1979, Steinike & Weinlig (‘Vielleicht'), Case No. 2 BvL 6/77.Google Scholar

29 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], Oct. 22, 1986, Solange II, Case No. 2 BvR 197/83; Arnold, Ranier, Review by constitutional courts of proceedings before ordinary courts applying community law: The experience of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, Venice Commission, Report CCS 2006/05, 2-4 (2005), available at http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDLJU%282006%29026-e; see also E R. Lanier, Solange, Farewell: The Federal German Constitutional Court and the Recognition of the Court of Justice of the European Communities as Lawful Judge, 11 B. C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 20 (1988); Jochen Abraham Frowein, Solange II. Constitutional complaint Firma W., 25 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 201-06 (1988).Google Scholar

30 See, e.g., Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], Jan. 9, 2001, NJW, Case No. BvR 1036/99. In particular, the Federal Constitutional Court stated that the right to a lawful judge was violated as the national court of last instance interpreted EU legislation in contrast to EU fundamental rights. Consequently, the refusal to refer violated the protection of the fundamental rights of individuals, which the CJEU would have taken into account in its preliminary ruling. It is interesting to note that as far as fundamental rights are concerned, the constitutional review seems to limit, more than when other interests are involved, the margin of discretion of the court of last instance when deciding whether or not to refer.Google Scholar

31 Lanier, supra note 29, at 26; BVerfG, Case No. 2 BvR 197/83.Google Scholar

32 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], May 31, 1990, Case No. 2 BvR 89/159, para. 131.Google Scholar

33 BVerfG, Case No. 2 BvR 197/83.Google Scholar

34 Verfassungsgerichtshof [VfGH] [Austrian Constitutional Court], Dec. 11, 1995, Case No. VfSlg. 14.390; Valutyté, Regina, Legal Consequences for the infringement of the obligation to make a reference for a preliminary ruling under constitutional law, 19 Mykolo Romerio Universitetas 1171, 1174 (2012); Marktler, Tanja, The European Court of Justice as Lawful Judge, Austrian Constitutional Court Judgment from December 11th, 1995 VfSlg. 14.390, 2 Vienna Online J. Int'l Const. L. 294 (2008), available at http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/vioincl2&div=37&id=&page. It is noteworthy that in the judgment VfSlg U 466/11 (VfGH, March 2012, Case No. VfSlg U 466/11) the Austrian Constitutional Court held, in essence, that its constitutional review applies to the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Charter). Concerning the effect of this judgment on the duty of national courts to refer a preliminary question to the CJEU, a national court submitted a reference to the CJEU. The latter delivered its ruling in September 2014. Cf. A v. B and Others, Case C–112/13. See, infra section D.M.Google Scholar

35 This court gives a broad interpretation to this right, including public authority, in order to preserve the division of competences at both judiciary and administrative level. Alexander Pelzl, Rapport autrichien, in L'obligation de renvoi prejudiciel a la Cour de Justice. Une obligation sanctionnee?, 83, 90 (Laurent Coutron & Jean-Claude Bonichot eds., 2014).Google Scholar

36 Id. at 83, 91–92.Google Scholar

37 VfGH, Case No. VfSlg. 14.390.Google Scholar

38 Tomás Dumbrovský, Constitutional Pluralism and Judicial Cooperation in the EU after the Eastern Enlargements: A Case Study of the Czech and Slovak Courts, in Constitutional Evolution in Central and Eastern Europe. Expansion and Integration in the EU 89, 100 (Kyriaki Topidi & Alexander H.E. Morawa eds., 2010); Valutyté, supra note 34, at 1177–78.Google Scholar

39 Ústavní soud [ÚS] [Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic], Jan. 8, 2009, Pfizer, Case No. II. ÚS 1009/08, English version available at http://www.usoud.cz/en/decisions.Google Scholar

40 In the Czech legal order, the Charter is a constitutional act, which focuses on the protection of human and civil rights, while the Constitution concerns state sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the institutions. Both are constitutional acts of equivalent hierarchical level.Google Scholar

41 ÚS Case No. 1009/08 at para. 21; Navratilova, Markéta, The preliminary ruling before the Constitutional Courts 2012, http://www.law.muni.cz/sborniky/dp08/files/pdf/mezinaro/navratilova.pdf.Google Scholar

42 See Dissenting Opinion of Judge Dagmar Lastovecká; Malenovský, supra note 13, at 219; Petrlík, David, Rapport tchèque, in L'obligation de renvoi préjudiciel à la Cour de Justice. Une obligation sanctionnée? 409, 416 (Laurent Coutron & Jean-Claude Bonichot eds., 2014).Google Scholar

43 In the English translation of the judgment there is the word “statutory” instead of “lawful.” However, the meaning does not differ.Google Scholar

45 ÚS 1009/08 at paras. 20, 22. The Czech Constitutional Court referred to the practice of the German Federal Constitutional Court “for the sake of comparison and information”.Google Scholar

46 II ÚS 1658/11 at para 18.Google Scholar

47 Ústavný súd Slovenskej republiky [Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic], July 3, 2008, Case No. IV. ÚS 206/08-50, available at http://www.concourt.sk/rozhod.do?urlpage=dokument&id_spisu=214397. Dumbrovský, supra note 38, at 101.Google Scholar

48 See Articles 237g of the Slovak Code of Civil Procedure and Article 127, 1f, of the Constitution; see also Informations rapides sur les développements juridiques présentant un Intérět communautaire N° 2/2009, http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2009-07/fr_2009_reflets2.pdf.Google Scholar

49 Cristina Izquierdo Sans, Cuestión prejudicial y artículo 24 de la constitución española, 23 Revista General de Derecho Europeo 18 (2011).Google Scholar

50 This reasoning is inspired by the constitutional complaint brought for a violation of Article 24 of the Constitution due to the fact that a national judge does not raise a constitutional issue before the Constitutional Court. In fact, when an ordinary court decides by its own authority to set aside a national law as unconstitutional, its ruling undermines the sources of law and leads to a violation of the right to effective judicial protection. Ricardo Alonso García, Spanish Constitutional Court. Judgment 58/2004, of 19 April 2004. Tax on the use of gambling machines. “Recurso de amparo” (individual appeal for constitutional protection) and EC preliminary ruling. Failure to request an EC preliminary ruling considered as a violation of the fundamental right to effective judicial protection, 42 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 535, 538, 2005; Valutyté, supra note 34, at 1181; Sarmiento, Daniel, Rapport espagnol, in L'obligation de renvoi préjudiciel à la Cour de Justice. Une obligation sanctionnée? 165, 168 (Laurent Coutron & Jean-Claude Bonichot eds., 2014).Google Scholar

51 García, Ricardo Alonso & José Maria Baño León, El recurso de amparo frente a la negativa a plantear cuestión prejudicial ante el Tribunal de Justicia de la CE, 29 Revista Española de Derecho Constitucional 193 (1990).Google Scholar

52 In particular, Izquierdo Sans, supra note 49, at 2.Google Scholar

53 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Dec. 1993, Case No. STC 372/1993 of December 1993; Valutyté, supra note 34, at 1180.Google Scholar

54 See Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Cases No. STC 180/1993; STC 201/1996; STC 203/1996.Google Scholar

55 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Cases No. STC 111/1993.Google Scholar

57 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Feb. 11, 2002, Case No. STC 35/2002.Google Scholar

58 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Case No. STC 180/1993. In this judgment the Spanish Constitutional Court stressed that national judges are not obliged to provide explanations concerning an issue raised by the parties. It should be observed that in judgment 35/2002, the Constitutional Court pointed out that the decision to ask or not for a ruling on constitutionality should be sufficiently explained. The Constitutional Court kept applying this practice, e.g., Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Nov. 29, 1999, Case No. STC 214/1999; March 27, 2006, Case No. STC 96/2006; May 4, 2009, Case No. STC 105/2009; and June 3, 2013, Case No. STC 127/2013.Google Scholar

59 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], April 19, 2004, Case No. STC 58/2004. This is also due to the fact that in 2004 the Spanish Constitutional Court delivered Opinion 1/2004 on the constitutionality of the Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe in which it began to recognize the status of EU law. Daniel Sarmiento, Reinforcing the (domestic) constitutional protection of primacy of EU law: Tribunal Constitucional, 50 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 875, 881 (2013). Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen, La déclaration du 13 décembre 2004 (DTC n°1/2004): «un Solage II à l'espagnole», 18 Cahiers du Conseil Constitutionnel 154, 161 (2005).Google Scholar

60 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Case No. STC 58/2004; CILFIT, Case C–283/81 and Da Costa, Joined Cases 28–30/62.Google Scholar

61 Joined Cases C–370-372/95, Careda and Others v. Administración General del Estado, 1997 E.C.R. I–03721.Google Scholar

62 In the Spanish constitutional literature, various scholars have pointed out the similarity between preliminary references on constitutionality to the Constitutional Court and preliminary references to the CJEU. In this regard, in order to explain the practice developed by this Constitutional Court concerning the recurso de amparo for a breach of Article 24 of the Constitution due to the refusal to refer under Article 267(3) TFEU, it is worth exploring briefly the case law regarding the constitutional complaint for a breach of Article 24 of the Constitution due to the decision of a national judge of last instance, which has a duty to refer a preliminary question to the Constitutional Court. One may distinguish two hypotheses. On the one hand, when national courts make a negative assessment of constitutionality and do not apply a national law due to its unconstitutionality, the Constitutional Court stressed that there is an obligation to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on that matter. In other words, the failure to request a preliminary ruling on constitutionality produces an “abuse of authority”, notwithstanding a reasoned decision of the relevant ordinary court. On the other hand, the positive assessment of constitutionality falls within the “exclusive and non-reviewable” margin of appreciation of national judges, even if the parties to the proceeding raise arguments of unconstitutionality of the relevant legislative provisions. García, supra note 50, at 535-39; see, e.g., Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Case No. STC 173/2002; Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Case No. STC 151/1991.Google Scholar

63 Ustavno sodišče Republike Slovenije [Constitutional Court of Slovenia], Nov. 21, 2013, Case No. Up-1056/11, available at http://odlocitve.us-rs.si/usrs/us-odl.nsf/o/17AF41EB27FD758DC1257CA500364679.Google Scholar

64 Id. at para 9.Google Scholar

65 Trstenjak, Verica & Plaustajner, Katja, Slovenian Report, in L'obligation de renvoi prejudiciel a la Cour de Justice. Une obligation sanctionnee?, 460, 476-77 (Laurent Coutron & Jean-Claude Bonichot eds., 2014).Google Scholar

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67 Claes, Monica, The National Courts’ Mandate in the European Constitution 426-32 (2006); Valutyté, supra note 34.Google Scholar

68 Arndt, Felix, The German Federal Constitutional Court At the Intersection of National and European Law: Two recent Decisions, 2 German L. J. (2001).Google Scholar

69 Id.; Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], Case No 2 BvR 2661/06 at para. 90; see also Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], Nov. 9, 1987, Case No. 2 BvR 808/82; Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], May 6, 2008, Case No. 2 BvR 2419/06. A different view is held in an order of the third chamber of the First Senate. See Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], Feb. 25, 2010, Case No. 1 BvR 230/09; Dechâtre, Laurent, Karlsruhe et le contrôle ultra vires: une «source de miel» pour adoucir la très acidulée décision Lisbonne, 4 Revue des Affaires Européennes 861, 867 (2009-2010); Valutyté, supra note 34, at1174.Google Scholar

70 For the first time, in a decision of 8 April 1987, see Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], April 8, 1987, Case No. 2 BvR 687/85; Arnold, supra note 29.Google Scholar

71 BVerfG, Case No. 2 BvR 687/85; Valutyté, (note 34), 1774.Google Scholar

72 29 BVerfGE 198 (207); BVerfG, Case No. 2 BvR 687/85 at para. 62.Google Scholar

73 82 BVerfGE 159.Google Scholar

75 The Federal Constitutional Court consists of two Senates, each of which comprises eight judges and appoints several chambers. Which of the two Senates is competent to decide is stated in Articles 13 and 14 of the Federal Constitutional Court Act. Concerning the contradictory interpretation in the two Senates, see Mahlmann, Matthias, The Politics of Constitutional Identity and its Legal Frame—the Ultra Vires Decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court 11 German L. J. 1407, 1413 (2010); Malenovský, supra note 13, at 214, 224.Google Scholar

76 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], July 6, 2010, Honeywell, Case No. 2 BvR 2661/06. The case originated in a constitutional complaint challenging the decision of the Federal Labor Court which applied the principles laid down in Mangold by the CJEU (C-144/04, Werner Mangold v. Rüdiger elm, 2005 E.C.R. I-09981). The complaint considered, on the one hand, the judgment ultra vires and, on the other one, the decision of the Federal labor court taken in violation of the protection of legitimate expectations. Matthias Mahlmann, supra note 75. As regards the judgment of the first Senate, see Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], August 30, 2010, Case No. 1 BvR 1631/08.Google Scholar

77 Id. at para. 92; Wiesbrock, Anja, The implication of Mangold for domestic legal system: The Honeywell case, 18 Maastricht J. Eur. & Comp. L. 201-15 (2011).Google Scholar

78 BVerfG, Case No. 1 BvR 1631/08.Google Scholar

79 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], Feb, 25, 2010, Case No. 1 BvR 230/09; Case No. 1 BvR 1036/99; Case No. 1 BvR 1631/08. When applying the constitutional review concerning the obligation to ask for a preliminary reference to the CJEU, the German Federal Constitutional Court considered, on the one hand, if the national courts took into account EU law and the preliminary reference procedure, and on the other hand, the attitude of the courts of other Member States deciding on the same issue. Mahlmann, supra note 75, at 1413; Valutyté, supra note 34, at 1176.Google Scholar

80 BVerfG, Case No. 1 BvR 230/09, Malenovský, supra note 13, at 218.Google Scholar

81 BVerfG, Case No. 1 BvR 1631/08.Google Scholar

82 Malenovský, supra note 13, at 218; Beyer-Katzenberger, supra note 26, at 517, 521.Google Scholar

83 BVerfG, Case No. 1 BvR 481/01.Google Scholar

84 Valutyté, supra note 34, at 1177; 1 BvR 481/01 at paras. 21–22; 82 BVerfGE 159 (194).Google Scholar

85 Thalmann, Peter, Failure to refer a preliminary question to the CJEU and the right to a lawful judge, Vol. 7 – 1, 79 ICL Journal 81, 84 (2013); VfGH, Sept. 30, 2003, Case No. VfSlg 16.988/2003.Google Scholar

86 VfGH, Case No. VfSlg 14.390/1995.Google Scholar

87 Pelzl, supra note 35, at 92.Google Scholar

88 In order to define an arbitrary conduct, the Constitutional Court pointed out, firstly, that a decision taken in an arbitrary manner is incompatible with Article 1(1) of the Constitution of the Czech Republic (principle of the law-based state) and, then, that this notion should be interpreted, in the light of Article 2(3) of the Constitution (principle of enumerated powers) in conjunction with Art. 4(4) of the Charter (principle of judicial protection), as meaning that state powers shall be exercised within the limits that preserve the essence and significance of the rights and freedoms. ÚS, Case No. 1009/08 at para. 21.Google Scholar

89 Id. at para. 22. Moreover, in the judgment of November 2011 II. ÚS 1658/11, para. 18, the Czech Constitutional Court referred also to the abovementioned three hypotheses elaborated by the German Federal Constitutional Court in order to determine if a refusal is arbitrary, namely in the cases of a fundamental disregard of the obligation to make a submission, a deliberate deviation without making a submission, and the incompleteness of the case law of the CJEU.Google Scholar

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94 In this regard, it is interesting to point out that after Pfizer, national courts of last instance have referred to the CJEU more frequently. Moreover, when they refuse to refer they give reasons by making references to CILFIT. Petrlík, supra note 42, at 431; see also ÚS, Case No. 1658/11 at para. 18.Google Scholar

95 Dhahbi v. Italy, App. No. 17120/09, at paras. 31–33; Vergauwen and others v. Belgium, App. No. 4832/04 (April 10, 2012), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/, paras. 87–92; John v. Germany, App. No. 15073/03.Google Scholar

96 Ullens De Schooten and Rezabek v. Belgium, App. Nos. 3989/07 and 38353/07 at paras. 61–66.Google Scholar

97 Valutyté, supra note 34, at 1180.Google Scholar

98 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Feb. 11, 2013, Case No. STC 27/2013.Google Scholar

99 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Case No. STC 58/2004.Google Scholar

100 Id. Google Scholar

101 STC 194/2006; Victor Manuel Sánchez Blázquez, STC 194/2006, de 19 de junio: vulneración del derecho al proceso debido e indefensión de la Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias por inaplicación en una Sentencia del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Canarias de un precepto de la Ley reguladora del IGIC de contenido idéntico a otro de la Ley del IVA declarado contrario a la Sexta Directiva por el Tribunal de Justicia de las Comunidades Europeas, http://www.ief.es/documentos/recursos/publicaciones/jurisprudencia_constitucional/2006_STC194_Sanchez.pdf Google Scholar

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103 See, supra note 50. Unlike the judgment of April 2004, in fact, the Spanish Constitutional Court did not refer to the assessment of whether there was a violation of the right to effective judicial protection under Article 24 of the Constitution or whether the CJEU's case law as regards the applicability of the CILFIT criteria could apply.Google Scholar

104 Case C–555/07, Kücükdeveci, 2010 E.C.R. I-00365, paras. 52–56. See also Sarmiento, Rapport espagnol, supra note 50, at 169.Google Scholar

105 Kücükdeveci, Case C–555/07 at para. 54.Google Scholar

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107 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], Case No. STC 27/2013.Google Scholar

108 Id. Google Scholar

109 Tribunal Constitucional [TC] [Spanish Constitutional Court], July 12, 2012, STC 145/2012. Sarmiento, Reinforcing the (domestic) constitutional protection of primacy of EU law: Tribunal Constitucional, (note 59), 885.Google Scholar

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114 CILFIT, Case C–283/81. This consideration could also be supported by the fact that the procedural rules governing the decision to ask preliminary questions to the CJEU fall, in principle, within the procedural autonomy of Member States.Google Scholar

115 Galetta, Diana-Urania, Procedural Autonomy of EU Member States: Paradise Lost? 68–74, 81–100 (2010).Google Scholar

116 In fact, before the CJEU, there is a presumption of relevance to the referred questions and indeed Article 267 TFEU only requires that the judge considers a question necessary and not that the question is necessary. See Case C–379/98, PreussenElektra, 2001 1–02099, para. 38; Case C–103/08, Gottwald, 2009 E.C.R. I–09117, para. 16; Broberg, Morten & Fenger, Niels, Preliminary references to the European Court of Justice 156, 161 (2d ed. 2014).Google Scholar

117 CILFIT, Case C–283/81 at para. 10. This is a consequence of the fact that the CJEU refuses to rule on general or hypothetical questions or where the questions are raised in a fictitious dispute. Case 244/80, Foglia v. Novello, 1981 E.C.R. I–03045; Case C–215/08, E. Friz, 2010 E.C.R. I–02947.Google Scholar

118 CILFIT, Case C–283/81 at para. 14.Google Scholar

119 Broberg & Fenger, supra note 116, at 233.Google Scholar

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121 Joined Cases C–72/14 & 197/14, X and T.A. Van Dijk,(Sept. 9, 2015), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

122 How can national judges be sure that other national judges in another Member State will follow the same view? Or, how can they be convinced that the CJEU will interpret the issue in the same sense, bearing in mind the dynamic nature of its case law? See, Broberg & Fenger, supra note 116, at 237-38; Sarmiento, Daniel, CILFIT and Foto-Frost: Constructing and Deconstructing Judicial Authority in Europe, in The Past and Future of EU Law 192, 196 (Miguel Poiares Maduro & Loïc Azoulai eds., 2010).Google Scholar

123 The analysis developed in this article is limited to the experiences of the Member States of the Constitutional Courts in question.Google Scholar

124 It is worth mentioning that, while Advocate General Bot pointed out that the CJEU should adopt a strict position concerning the obligation under Art. 267(3) TFEU, Advocate General Wahl argued against a rigid reading of the CILFIT case law. See Opinion of Advocate General Bot at para. 101, Case C–160/14, Ferreira da Silva e Brito, (June 11, 2015); Opinion of Advocate General Wahl at para. 62, Joined Cases C–72/14 and C–197/14, X and T.A. van Dijk, (May 13, 2015).Google Scholar

125 Foto-Frost, Case 314/85. In this regard, it is worth remembering that a preliminary ruling might be the only possibility for individuals in order to obtain a ruling on the legality of EU acts. A direct action is admissible under Article 263(4) TFEU. However, despite the relevant amendment of the Treaty of Lisbon, the conditions of Article 263(4) TFEU provide narrow access to the CJEU. In this regard, see Creus, Antonio, Commentaire des décisions du tribunal dans les affaires T-18/10 Inuit et T-262/10 Microban, 3 Cahiers de Droit Europeen 659-78 (2011); Wathelet, Melchior & Wildemeersch, Jonathan, Recours en annulation: une première interprétation restrictive du droit d'action élargi des particuliers? 12 J.D.E. 75–79 (2012); Wildemeersch, Jonathan, La condition de l'article 263, alinéa 4, TFUE relative à l'absence de mesures d'exécution et l'arrět Telefónica: de l'inutilité d'une réforme: CJUE, gde ch., 19 décembre 2013, Telefónica/Commission, aff. C–274/12 P, 4 Revue des Affaires Européennes 861-71 (2013); Case C–583/11, P Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Others v. Parliament and Council, (Oct. 3, 2013), http://curia.europa.eu/; Case C–133/12 P, Stichting Woonlinie and Others v. Commission, (Feb. 27, 2014), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

126 It is certainly possible that the decision of a national judge will be corrected beforehand. However, since these Constitutional Courts have elaborated a link between the obligation under Art. 267(3) TFEU and a constitutional right, it must be stressed that the duty to refer under EU law provides the same obligation for courts of last instance and for all the courts where a question of validity arises. See also Craig, Paul, The Classics of EU Law Revisited: CILFIT and Foto-Frost, in The Past and Future of EU Law 185, 189 (Miguel Poiares Maduro & Loïc Azoulai eds., 2010).Google Scholar

127 CARTESIO Oktató és Szolgáltató bt., Case C–210/06.Google Scholar

128 Broberg, Morten & Fenger, Niels, Preliminary references as a right: But for Whom?, 36 Eur. L. Rev., 276-88 (2011); see also Broberg & Fenger, supra note 116, at 327–36.Google Scholar

129 Melki and Abdeli, Cases C–188/10 and C–189/10. In particular, national courts shall remain free to refer to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling, at whatever stage of the proceedings they consider appropriate, any question which they consider necessary.Google Scholar

130 Krizan and Others, C–416/10.Google Scholar

131 Nicolas Cartiat & Arnaud Hoc, Arrět « Križan »: dans quelle mesure le juge national est-il tenu de poser une question préjudicielle?, Journal de Droit Europeen 97 (2013). It is also interesting to observe that this case law reverses the hierarchy between superior and lower courts in that the lower court enjoys an autonomous jurisdiction concerning the decision to refer to the CJEU and the superior court cannot overturn its ruling and prevent it from referring. Broberg & Fenger, supra note 116, at 328.Google Scholar

132 A v. B and Others, Case C–112/13.Google Scholar

133 Id. at paras. 36–37.Google Scholar

134 Id. at para. 38.Google Scholar

135 Id. at paras. 41–43.Google Scholar

136 Broberg & Fenger, supra note 116, at 335.Google Scholar

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138 CILFIT, Case C–283/81 at para. 15. Indeed, after having established the exceptions to the obligation to refer, the CJEU points out that, in all such circumstances, it must not be forgotten that national courts remain at liberty to bring a matter before the court if they consider it appropriate to do so. Moreover, according to Art. 99(1) of the CJEU's Rules of Procedure, the CJEU may decide to rule by reasoned order, where a question referred to it for a preliminary ruling is identical to a question on which it has already ruled (i.e., acte éclairé), where the reply to such a question may be clearly deduced from existing case law or where the answer to the question referred for a preliminary ruling admits of no reasonable doubt (i.e., acte clair). Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of 25 September 2012 (O.J. L 265, 29.9.2012), as amended on 18 June 2013 (OJ L 173, 26.6.2013).Google Scholar

139 Köbler, Case C–224/01; Traghetti del Mediterraneo, Case C–173/03; Commission/Italy, Case C–379/10.Google Scholar

140 Köbler, Case C–224/01.Google Scholar

141 Traghetti del Mediterraneo, Case C–173/03 at para. 24; cf. Ferreira da Silva e Brito, Case C–160/14 at paras. 46–60; Beutler, Bjorn, State Liability for Breaches of Community Law by national courts: is the requirement of a manifest infringement of the applicable law an insurmountable obstacle?, 46 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 773, 785 (2009); Zingales, Nicolo, Member State Liability vs. National Procedural Autonomy: What Rules for Judicial Breach of EU Law?, 11 German L. J. 419–438 (2010).Google Scholar

142 Malenovský, supra note 13, at 218.Google Scholar

143 Köbler, C–224/01 at para. 57.Google Scholar

144 Classen, Claus Dieter, Case C–224/01, Gerhard Köbler v. Republik Osterreich, Judgment of 30 September 2003, Full Court, 41 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 813, 818 (2004).Google Scholar

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148 Malenovský, supra note 13, at 218; Classen, supra note 144, at 814. Taking the example in Köbler, if Mr. Köbler had had the possibility to bring an action for the violation of the right to a lawful judge before the Austrian Constitutional Court, an action for damages against the Republic of Austria would probably not have been brought. However, as mentioned, the Austrian Constitutional Court can exert its constitutional review only on administrative decisions.Google Scholar

149 Malenovký, supra note 13, at 224.Google Scholar

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152 Besides, since Article 47 of the Charter should be interpreted within the same meaning of Article 6(1) ECHR, one may ask whether the former may be violated by the denial to refer to the CJEU without giving reasons. Cf. Clelia Lacchi, The interference of the ECtHR in the dialogue between national courts and the Court of Justice of the EU: implications for the preliminary reference procedure, Rev. Eur. Admin. L., 2/2015 (forthcoming).Google Scholar

153 Malenovský, supra note 13, at 219.Google Scholar

154 Id. Google Scholar

155 BVerfG, Jan. 2014, Case No. 2 BvR 2728/13; Case C–62/14, Gauweiler and Others (June 16, 2015), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

156 Nov. 6, 2014, Case No. U-I-295/13.Google Scholar

157 Tribunal Constitucional (Constitutional Court) [T.C.], June 9, 2011, Case No. 86/11 of 9 June 2011; Case C–399/11, Melloni (Feb. 26, 2013), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

158 It is worth remembering that the French Conseil constitutionnel submitted, for the first time, a preliminary reference to the CJEU in 2013. The Conseil constitutionnel was called to assess whether the principle of equality before the law and the right to an effective judicial remedy were violated by the national provisions transposing the Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (O.J. 2002 L 190, p. 1), as amended by Council Framework Decision 2009/299/JHA of 26 February 2009 (OJ 2009 L 81, p. 24). In order to reply to the question, the Conseil Constitutionnel asked the CJEU to interpret, in essence, the compliance of the relevant provisions with the Council Framework Decision and the right to effective judicial remedy. Case C–168/13 PPU, Jeremy F. (May 30, 2013), http://curia.europa.eu/.Google Scholar

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160 Id. at 105.Google Scholar

161 Craig, Paul, The ECJ and ultra vires action: a conceptual analysis, 48 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 395–437 (2011). Two recent examples are the German Federal Constitutional Court's reaction to Åkerberg Fransson (Case C–617/10, Åkerberg Fransson, (Feb. 26, 2013), http://curia.europa.eu/) in the Counter-Terrorism Database judgment (BVerfG, April 24, 2013, Case No. 1 BvR 1215/07) and the order of 14 January 2014 of the German Federal Constitutional Court concerning a request for a preliminary ruling, which raises the question of the legality of the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program. The question was submitted in the context of an ultra vires review of EU acts, which might have consequences for the constitutional identity of Germany. In this regard, Advocate General Cruz Villalón in his Opinion of 14 January 2015 pointed out, “if a national court or tribunal were reserved for itself the last word on the validity of an EU act, the preliminary ruling procedure would then be merely advisory in nature.” See Opinion of Advocate General Cruz Villalón at paras. 35–38, Case C–62/14, Gauweiler and Others (Jan. 14, 2015), http://curia.europa.eu/. As for the German Federal Constitutional Court, see Thym, Daniel, Separation versus Fusion or: How to Accommodate National Autonomy and the Charter? Diverging Visions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice, 9 Eur. Const. L. Rev. 391, 391–419 (2013); Waltuch, Jonathan, La guerre des juges n'aura pas lieu. A propos de la décision Honeywell de la Cour constitutionnelle fédérale allemande, 2 Revue Trimestrielle de Droit Europeen 329-60 (2011); Luebbe-Wolff, G., supra note 24; A. Pliakos and G. Anagnostaras, supra note 24, at 109–23. Concerning the Czech Constitutional Court, which in the Holubec decision of January 2012 (ÚS 5/12) declared an EU act ultra vires in reaction to the Landtová judgment of the CJEU (Case C–399/09, Landtová, 2011 E.C.R. I-05573), see Jiří Zemánek, L'arrět de la Cour constitutionelle tchèque du 31 janvier 2012, les retraites slovaques XVII: le principe de l'égalité de traitement—Un motif de rebellion contre la Cour de Justice de l'Union européenne?, 3 C.D.E. 709 (2012); Anagnostaras, Georgios, Activation of the Ultra Vires Review: The Slovak Pensions Judgment of the Czech Constitutional Court, 14 German L. J. 959-73 (2013).Google Scholar

162 It is interesting to note that the German Federal Constitutional Court developed three lines of case law concerning its constitutional review vis-à-vis EU law, namely fundamental rights review, ultra vires review, and constitutional identity review.Google Scholar

163 Sarmiento, Reinforcing the (domestic) constitutional protection of primacy of EU law, supra note 59, at 887.Google Scholar

164 EU law leaves this implementation to the margin of appreciation of national judges, according to the indications established in the case law of the CJEU. However, as has been seen, there might be cases where national courts of last instance do not comply with their obligation to refer.Google Scholar

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