The decentralized enforcement of European law: national court decisions on EU directives with and without preliminary reference submissions

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Series Details Volume 25, Number 12, Pages 1817-1834
Publication Date December 2018
ISSN 1350-1763 (print) | 1466-4429 (online)
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This article contributes to the study of the preliminary reference procedure and the literature on the decentralized enforcement of European Union (EU) law through national courts. Drawing on the ‘compliance pull’ explanation for why national courts submit preliminary references to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), it suggests that a greater need to clarify ‘the validity and interpretation’ of one act compared to another is associated with variation in Article 267 submissions.

Drawing on a sample of 1,300 national court decisions on EU directives with variation in Article 267 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) submissions, this article finds that disputes relating to directives leaving more room for manoeuvre in implementation (‘delegation’) and relating to more complex regulatory issues (‘information intensity’) are more likely to be referred to the ECJ for interpretation. It argues that neglecting the ‘compliance pull’ explanations has consequences for how we conceptualize ‘decentralized enforcement’.

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