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Document 61979CJ0066

Judgment of the Court of 27 March 1980.
Amministrazione delle Finanze v Srl Meridionale Industria Salumi, Fratelli Vasanelli and Fratelli Ultrocchi.
References for a preliminary ruling: Corte suprema di Cassazione - Italy.
The effect in point of time of preliminary rulings.
Joined cases 66, 127 and 128/79.

European Court Reports 1980 -01237

ECLI identifier: ECLI:EU:C:1980:101

61979J0066

Judgment of the Court of 27 March 1980. - Amministrazione delle Finanze v Srl Meridionale Industria Salumi, Fratelli Vasanelli and Fratelli Ultrocchi. - References for a preliminary ruling: Corte suprema di Cassazione - Italy. - The effect in point of time of preliminary rulings. - Joined cases 66, 127 and 128/79.

European Court reports 1980 Page 01237
Greek special edition Page 00627
Swedish special edition Page 00163
Finnish special edition Page 00165
Spanish special edition Page 00425


Summary
Parties
Subject of the case
Grounds
Decision on costs
Operative part

Keywords


1 . REFERENCES FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING - INTERPRETATION - EFFECTS IN TIME OF INTERPRETATIVE JUDGMENTS - RETROACTIVE EFFECT - LIMITS - LEGAL CERTAINTY

( EEC TREATY , ART . 177 )

2 . EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES - OWN RESOURCES - SYSTEM - PRINCIPLES - EQUALITY OF TREATMENT

( EEC TREATY , ART . 201 ; COUNCIL DECISION OF 21 APRIL 1970 )

3 . EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES - OWN RESOURCES - AGRICULTURAL LEVIES - DETAILED RULES FOR AND DISPUTES REGARDING COLLECTION - APPLICATION OF NATIONAL LAW - CONDITIONS AND LIMITS

( COUNCIL DECISION OF 21 APRIL 1970 , ART . 6 )

Summary


1 . THE INTERPRETATION WHICH , IN THE EXERCISE OF THE JURISDICTION CONFERRED ON IT BY ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY , THE COURT GIVES TO A RULE OF COMMUNITY LAW CLARIFIES AND DEFINES WHERE NECESSARY THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THAT RULE AS IT MUST BE OR OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN UNDERSTOOD AND APPLIED FROM THE TIME OF ITS COMING INTO FORCE . IT FOLLOWS THAT THE RULE AS THUS INTERPRETED MAY , AND MUST , BE APPLIED BY THE COURTS EVEN TO LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ARISING AND ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE JUDGMENT RULING ON THE REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION , PROVIDED THAT IN OTHER RESPECTS THE CONDITIONS ENABLING AN ACTION RELATING TO THE APPLICATION OF THAT RULE TO BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION ARE SATISFIED .

IT IS ONLY EXCEPTIONALLY THAT THE COURT MAY , IN APPLICATION OF THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF LEGAL CERTAINTY INHERENT IN THE COMMUNITY LEGAL ORDER AND IN TAKING ACCOUNT OF THE SERIOUS EFFECTS WHICH ITS JUDGMENT MIGHT HAVE , AS REGARDS THE PAST , ON LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ESTABLISHED IN GOOD FAITH , BE MOVED TO RESTRICT FOR ANY PERSON CONCERNED THE OPPORTUNITY OF RELYING UPON THE PROVISION AS THUS INTERPRETED WITH A VIEW TO CALLING IN QUESTION THOSE LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS .

2 . THE GENERAL ARRANGEMENTS REGARDING THE FINANCIAL PROVISIONS OF THE TREATY ARE GOVERNED BY THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY WHICH REQUIRES THAT COMPARABLE SITUATIONS MAY NOT BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY UNLESS DIFFERENCE OF TREATMENT IS OBJECTIVELY JUSTIFIED .

IT FOLLOWS THAT THE REVENUES WHICH ARE CONTRIBUTED TO THE COMMUNITY BUDGET AND THE FINANCIAL ADVANTAGES CHARGED THERETO MUST BE SO ARRANGED AND APPLIED AS TO CONSTITUTE A UNIFORM BURDEN OR TO CONFER UNIFORM BENEFITS ON ALL PERSONS WHO MEET THE CONDITIONS SPECIFIED IN THE COMMUNITY PROVISIONS ON SUCH BURDENS OR ADVANTAGES .

3 . IN SO FAR AS NO PROVISIONS OF COMMUNITY LAW ARE RELEVANT , IT IS FOR THE NATIONAL LEGAL SYSTEM OF EACH MEMBER STATE TO LAY DOWN THE DETAILED RULES AND CONDITIONS FOR THE COLLECTION OF COMMUNITY REVENUES IN GENERAL AND AGRICULTURAL LEVIES IN PARTICULAR AND TO DETERMINE THE AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR COLLECTION AND THE COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION TO DECIDE DISPUTES TO WHICH THAT COLLECTION MAY GIVE RISE BUT SUCH PROCEDURES AND CONDITIONS MAY NOT MAKE THE SYSTEM FOR COLLECTING COMMUNITY CHARGES AND DUES LESS EFFECTIVE THAN THAT FOR COLLECTING NATIONAL CHARGES AND DUES OF THE SAME KIND .

A SPECIAL SYSTEM OF NATIONAL RULES RELATING TO THE COLLECTION OF COMMUNITY CHARGES AND DUES WHICH RESTRICTS THE POWERS GRANTED TO THE NATIONAL AUTHORITY TO ENSURE THE COLLECTION OF THOSE CHARGES AS COMPARED WITH THE POWERS GRANTED TO THE SAME AUTHORITY IN REGARD TO NATIONAL CHARGES OR DUES OF THE SAME KIND IS THEREFORE NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH COMMUNITY LAW .

Parties


IN JOINED CASES 66 , 127 AND 128/79

REFERENCE TO THE COURT UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY BY THE CORTE SUPREMA DI CASSAZIONE ( SUPREME COURT OF CASSATION ), ROME , FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THAT COURT BETWEEN

AMMINISTRAZIONE DELLE FINANZE ( ITALIAN FINANCE ADMINISTRATION )

AND

S.R.L . MERIDIONALE INDUSTRIA SALUMI ;

AMMINISTRAZIONE DELLE FINANZE

AND

FRATELLI VASANELLI ;

AMMINISTRAZIONE DELLE FINANZE

AND

FRATELLI ULTROCCHI

Subject of the case


ON THE TEMPORAL SCOPE OF INTERPRETATIVE JUDGMENTS DELIVERED BY THE COURT OF JUSTICE UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY ,

Grounds


1 BY THREE ORDERS OF 11 JANUARY 1979 , THE FIRST OF WHICH ( CASE 66/79 MERIDIONALE SALUMI ) WAS LODGED AT THE REGISTRY OF THE COURT OF JUSTICE ON 20 APRIL 1979 AND THE OTHER TWO ( CASE 127/79 VASANELLI AND CASE 128/79 ULTROCCHI ) ON 9 AUGUST 1979 , THE CORTE SUPREMA DI CASSAZIONE , ROME , SUBMITTED FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY TWO QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE INTERPRETATION OF ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY IN REGARD TO THE SCOPE OF INTERPRETATIVE JUDGMENTS DELIVERED BY THE COURT OF JUSTICE IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT PROVISION .

2 BY THOSE QUESTIONS , WHICH ARE FRAMED IN IDENTICAL TERMS IN THE THREE ORDERS MAKING THE REFERENCES , THE COURT IS ASKED :

' ' ( A ) FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY WHERE , IN RESPECT OF IMPORTS AND WITH REGARD TO RELATIONSHIPS AS YET UNDEFINED ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN NATIONAL LAW , THE NATIONAL AUTHORITIES OF A STATE HAVE CHARGED AMOUNTS WHICH THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE CHARGED OR , ON THE OTHER HAND , NOT LEVIED AMOUNTS WHICH THEY SHOULD HAVE LEVIED PURSUANT TO THE COMMUNITY PROVISIONS APPLICABLE IN THAT SECTOR ACCORDING TO THE INTERPRETATION SUBSEQUENTLY PLACED UPON THEM BY JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF JUSTICE , DOES THAT JUDGMENT ALSO APPLY TO SUCH RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN THE DOMESTIC LEGAL SYSTEM OF THE MEMBER STATE OR NOT , OR DOES IT APPLY SUBJECT TO SPECIFIC LIMITS AND ON SPECIFIED CONDITIONS : IF THE LATTER IS THE CASE , WHAT ARE THOSE LIMITS AND CONDITIONS?

( B ) ALSO FOR THE PURPOSES OF ARTICLE 177 OF THE TREATY , IS IT PROHIBITED OR REQUIRED BY COMMUNITY LAW OR IRRELEVANT IN RELATION THERETO THAT IN RESPECT OF SUCH RELATIONSHIPS THOSE CONCERNED ARE EMPOWERED UNDER NATIONAL LAW TO INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS TO CLAIM OR RECOVER , ON THE BASIS OF THE INTERPRETATION PROVIDED BY THE JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF JUSTICE , AMOUNTS DUE BUT NOT COLLECTED OR AMOUNTS PAID IN ERROR?

' '

3 THE QUESTIONS ARE PUT IN THE CONTEXT OF DISPUTES BETWEEN TRADERS AND THE APPROPRIATE ITALIAN ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY WHICH IS CLAIMING FROM THEM , IN RESPECT OF IMPORTS OF BEEF AND VEAL CARRIED OUT IN 1968 , ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS OF AGRICULTURAL IMPORT LEVIES PAYABLE BY VIRTUE OF REGULATION NO 14/64 OF THE COUNCIL OF 5 FEBRUARY 1964 ON THE PROGRESSIVE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKET IN BEEF AND VEAL ( JOURNAL OFFICIEL 1964 , NO 34 , P . 562 ) AND OF REGULATION NO 805/68 OF THE COUNCIL OF 27 JUNE 1968 ON THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKET IN BEEF AND VEAL ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , ENGLISH SPECIAL EDITION 1968 ( I ), P . 187 ).

4 AT THE TIME , THE AMOUNT OF THOSE LEVIES HAD BEEN CALCULATED BY THE ITALIAN CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES BY APPLYING THE METHOD , WHICH WAS ALSO RECOMMENDED IN CUSTOMS MATTERS BY THE COMMISSION , WHEREBY , IN THE EVENT OF A REDUCTION IN CUSTOMS DUTIES OCCURRING AFTER THE IMPORT DECLARATION HAD BEEN SUBMITTED BUT BEFORE THE GOODS WERE RELEASED FOR HOME USE , THE MORE FAVOURABLE RATE WAS TO BE APPLIED IF THE IMPORTER CONCERNED SO REQUESTED .

5 BY ITS JUDGMENT OF 15 JUNE 1976 IN CASE 113/75 FRECASSETTI V AMMINISTRAZIONE DELLE FINANZE DELLO STATO ( 1976 ) ECR 983 THE COURT OF JUSTICE HELD , HOWEVER , THAT THAT METHOD COULD NOT BE APPLIED TO AGRICULTURAL LEVIES ON THE IMPORTATION OF PRODUCTS FROM NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES , WHICH HAD TO BE UNIFORMLY CALCULATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RATE OF LEVY IN FORCE ON THE DAY ON WHICH THE IMPORT DECLARATION WAS ACCEPTED BY THE CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES . CONSEQUENTLY , THE TRADERS CONCERNED WOULD HAVE TO PAY LEVIES AT A HIGHER AMOUNT .

6 EVEN BEFORE THE FRECASSETTI JUDGMENT , THE ITALIAN ADMINISTRATION HAD CLAIMED THESE ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS ON THE GROUND , IT APPEARS , THAT THE TRADERS HAD NOT , IN ANY EVENT , OBSERVED A FORMALITY REQUIRED BY ITALIAN LEGISLATION BEFORE ADVANTAGE MIGHT BE TAKEN OF THE MORE FAVOURABLE RATE . HOWEVER , IN THE COURSE OF THE PROCEEDINGS THE QUESTION AROSE TO WHAT EXTENT THE INTERPRETATION GIVEN BY THE FRECASSETTI JUDGMENT PROVIDED , IN REGARD TO SITUATIONS ARISING BEFORE THE DATE OF THAT JUDGMENT , A FOUNDATION IN COMMUNITY LAW FOR CLAIMING THE DISPUTED ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS , REGARD BEING HAD , MOREOVER , TO THE FACT THAT , IN THE MEANTIME , DECREE NO 695 OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF 22 SEPTEMBER 1978 HAD AMENDED AN EARLIER DECREE SO AS TO BRING IT INTO LINE , IN SO FAR AS THE CALCULATION OF AGRICULTURAL LEVIES WAS CONCERNED , WITH THE FRECASSETTI JUDGMENT BUT HAD PROVIDED AT THE SAME TIME THAT THAT AMENDMENT SHOULD TAKE EFFECT ONLY ON 11 SEPTEMBER 1976 , WITH THE RESULT THAT ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS OF LEVY WOULD BE CLAIMED ONLY ON PRODUCTS DECLARED AFTER THAT DATE . THE DATE OF 11 SEPTEMBER 1976 WAS SELECTED BECAUSE IT CORRESPONDED TO THAT OF THE PUBLICATION OF THE OPERATIVE PART OF THE FRECASSETTI JUDGMENT IN THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES , C 214 , OF 11 SEPTEMBER 1976 .

FIRST QUESTION

7 IN ESSENCE , THIS QUESTION SEEKS TO ESTABLISH , PARTICULARLY IN REGARD TO CHARGES OR DUES PAYABLE UNDER COMMUNITY LAW , WHETHER , WHERE THE INTERPRETATION OF A PROVISION OF COMMUNITY LAW BY THE COURT OF JUSTICE UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE TREATY MAKES IT APPARENT THAT THE APPLICATION GIVEN TO THAT PROVISION BY THE NATIONAL AUTHORITIES WAS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THAT PROVISION AS ITS SCOPE HAD BEEN DEFINED BY THE COURT , THE PROVISION AS THUS INTERPRETED MUST BE APPLIED BY NATIONAL COURTS , DULY SEISED OF DISPUTES TO WHICH THAT APPLICATION HAS GIVEN RISE , EVEN TO LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ARISING AND ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE DATE OF THE JUDGMENT RULING ON THE REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION .

8 ARTICLE 177 OF THE TREATY PROVIDES THAT THE COURT OF JUSTICE SHALL HAVE JURISDICTION TO GIVE PRELIMINARY RULINGS , IN PARTICULAR , CONCERNING THE INTERPRETATION OF THE TREATY AND OF THE ACTS OF THE INSTITUTIONS . THE PURPOSE OF THAT JURISDICTION IS TO ENSURE THE UNIFORM INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY LAW , AND IN PARTICULAR THE PROVISIONS WHICH HAVE DIRECT EFFECT , THROUGH THE NATIONAL COURTS .

9 THE INTERPRETATION WHICH , IN THE EXERCISE OF THE JURISDICTION CONFERRED ON IT BY ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY , THE COURT OF JUSTICE GIVES TO A RULE OF COMMUNITY LAW CLARIFIES AND DEFINES WHERE NECESSARY THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THAT RULE AS IT MUST BE OR OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN UNDERSTOOD AND APPLIED FROM THE TIME OF ITS COMING INTO FORCE . IT FOLLOWS THAT THE RULE AS THUS INTERPRETED MAY , AND MUST , BE APPLIED BY THE COURTS EVEN TO LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ARISING AND ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE JUDGMENT RULING ON THE REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION , PROVIDED THAT IN OTHER RESPECTS THE CONDITIONS ENABLING AN ACTION RELATING TO THE APPLICATION OF THAT RULE TO BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION ARE SATISFIED .

10 AS THE COURT RECOGNIZED IN ITS JUDGMENT OF 8 APRIL 1976 IN CASE 43/75 DEFRENNE V SABENA ( 1976 ) ECR 455 , IT IS ONLY EXCEPTIONALLY THAT THE COURT MAY , IN APPLICATION OF THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF LEGAL CERTAINTY INHERENT IN THE COMMUNITY LEGAL ORDER AND IN TAKING ACCOUNT OF THE SERIOUS EFFECTS WHICH ITS JUDGMENT MIGHT HAVE , AS REGARDS THE PAST , ON LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ESTABLISHED IN GOOD FAITH , BE MOVED TO RESTRICT FOR ANY PERSON CONCERNED THE OPPORTUNITY OF RELYING UPON THE PROVISION AS THUS INTERPRETED WITH A VIEW TO CALLING IN QUESTION THOSE LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS .

11 SUCH A RESTRICTION MAY , HOWEVER , BE ALLOWED ONLY IN THE ACTUAL JUDGMENT RULING ON THE INTERPRETATION SOUGHT . THE FUNDAMENTAL NEED FOR A GENERAL AND UNIFORM APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY LAW IMPLIES THAT IT IS FOR THE COURT OF JUSTICE ALONE TO DECIDE UPON THE TEMPORAL RESTRICTIONS TO BE PLACED ON THE INTERPRETATION WHICH IT LAYS DOWN .

12 FINALLY , HAVING REGARD TO THE CLARIFICATION REQUESTED BY THE NATIONAL COURT , IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT A RULE OF COMMUNITY LAW SO INTERPRETED TAKES EFFECT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE INTERPRETATION GIVEN TO IT AS FROM ITS ENTRY INTO FORCE WITHOUT ANY NECESSITY FOR MAKING ANY DISTINCTION ACCORDING TO WHETHER THE PROVISIONS IN QUESTION IMPOSE CHARGES OR CONFER BENEFITS UPON THOSE CONCERNED OR WHETHER THE AMOUNTS INVOLVED ARE ONES WHICH THE NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION OUGHT TO HAVE BUT HAS NOT LEVIED - IN BREACH OF COMMUNITY LAW - OR ONES WHICH THEY HAVE LEVIED IN BREACH OF THAT LAW .

SECOND QUESTION

13 THE SUBSTANCE OF THE SECOND QUESTION IS WHETHER THE EXERCISE OF THE RIGHTS WHICH THE CITIZEN OR , AS THE CASE MAY BE , THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES , DERIVE FROM THE DIRECT EFFECT OF A PROVISION OF COMMUNITY LAW INTERPRETED IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND WITH THE CONSEQUENCES DESCRIBED ABOVE MAY OR MAY NOT BE ADAPTED AND POSSIBLY LIMITED BY NATIONAL LAW . THIS QUESTION CONTEMPLATES IN PARTICULAR THE ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY ' S POWER TO TAKE PROCEEDINGS FOR RECOVERY OF COMMUNITY CHARGES OR DUES WHICH OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN LEVIED .

14 THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE FIXING AND THE CONDITIONS OF COLLECTION OF THE FINANCIAL CHARGES WHICH THE COMMUNITY IS EMPOWERED TO LEVY AND WHICH SPECIFICALLY CONSTITUTE ITS OWN RESOURCES , SUCH AS CUSTOMS DUTIES AND AGRICULTURAL LEVIES , ARE LAID DOWN BY THE COUNCIL DECISION OF 21 APRIL 1970 ON THE REPLACEMENT OF FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MEMBER STATES BY THE COMMUNITY ' S OWN RESOURCES ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , ENGLISH SPECIAL EDITION 1970 ( I ), P . 224 ) AND THE REGULATIONS IN IMPLEMENTATION THEREOF . THESE PROVISIONS MUST BE CONSIDERED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE GENERAL ARRANGEMENTS ON THE FINANCIAL PROVISIONS OF THE TREATY WHICH , LIKE THE CORRESPONDING ARRANGEMENTS OF THE MEMBER STATES , ARE GOVERNED BY THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY WHICH REQUIRES THAT COMPARABLE SITUATIONS MAY NOT BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY UNLESS DIFFERENCE OF TREATMENT IS OBJECTIVELY JUSTIFIED .

15 IT FOLLOWS THAT THE SYSTEM OF REVENUES WHICH ARE CONTRIBUTED TO THE COMMUNITY BUDGET MUST BE SO ARRANGED AS TO CONSTITUTE A UNIFORM BURDEN ON ALL PERSONS WHO MEET THE CONDITIONS SPECIFIED IN THE COMMUNITY PROVISIONS ON SUCH BURDENS . THAT REQUIREMENT IMPLIES THAT THERE MUST BE EQUALITY OF TREATMENT IN RESPECT OF THE PROCEDURAL AND SUBSTANTIVE CONDITIONS ON WHICH TRADERS MAY CHALLENGE COMMUNITY CHARGES IMPOSED UPON THEM BY DEMANDING A REFUND WHERE PAYMENT WAS WRONGLY MADE . IT IMPLIES AN ANALOGOUS EQUALITY IN THE CONDITIONS SUBJECT TO WHICH THE AUTHORITIES OF THE MEMBER STATES , ACTING ON BEHALF OF THE COMMUNITY , MAY COLLECT THE SAID CHARGES AND , IF NECESSARY , RECOVER FINANCIAL BENEFITS WHICH WERE WRONGLY GRANTED .

16 THE COUNCIL HAS ADOPTED THIS APPROACH BY ENACTING REGULATION ( EEC ) NO 1430/79 OF 2 JULY 1979 ON THE REPAYMENT OR REMISSION OF IMPORT OR EXPORT DUTIES ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL 1979 , L 175 , P . 1 ) AND REGULATION ( EEC ) NO 1697/79 OF 24 JULY 1979 ON THE POST-CLEARANCE RECOVERY OF IMPORT DUTIES OR EXPORT DUTIES WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN REQUIRED OF THE PERSON LIABLE FOR PAYMENT ON GOODS ENTERED FOR A CUSTOMS PROCEDURE INVOLVING THE OBLIGATION TO PAY SUCH DUTIES ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL 1979 , L 197 , P . 1 ). THESE REGULATIONS , WHICH HAVE NOT YET ENTERED INTO FORCE AT THE DATE OF THIS JUDGMENT , NEVERTHELESS PROVIDE ONLY A PARTIAL SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS CONCERNING THE EQUALITY OF PERSONS IN THIS SPHERE AND THE NECESSARILY TECHNICAL AND DETAILED NATURE OF SUCH PROVISIONS MEANS THAT A JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION CAN PROVIDE ONLY A PARTIAL REMEDY .

17 FROM THIS STATE OF AFFAIRS IT FOLLOWS , AS THE COURT HELD IN ITS JUDGMENT OF 21 MAY 1976 IN CASE 26/74 ROQUETTE ( 1976 ) ECR 677 , THAT DISPUTES IN CONNEXION WITH THE REIMBURSEMENT OF AMOUNTS COLLECTED FOR THE COMMUNITY ARE THUS A MATTER FOR THE NATIONAL COURTS AND MUST BE SETTLED BY THEM UNDER NATIONAL LAW IN SO FAR AS NO PROVISIONS OF COMMUNITY LAW ARE RELEVANT . FOR THE LIKE REASONS THE SAME APPLIES TO PROCEEDINGS AND DISPUTES CONCERNED WITH THE REVENUE WHICH THE AUTHORITIES OF THE MEMBER STATES ARE BOUND TO COLLECT ON BEHALF OF THE COMMUNITY .

18 ACCORDINGLY , IN SO FAR AS NO PROVISIONS OF COMMUNITY LAW ARE RELEVANT , IT IS FOR THE NATIONAL LEGAL SYSTEM OF EACH MEMBER STATE TO LAY DOWN THE DETAILED RULES AND CONDITIONS FOR THE COLLECTION OF COMMUNITY REVENUES IN GENERAL AND AGRICULTURAL LEVIES IN PARTICULAR AND TO DETERMINE THE AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR COLLECTION AND THE COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION TO DECIDE DISPUTES TO WHICH THAT COLLECTION MAY GIVE RISE BUT SUCH PROCEDURES AND CONDITIONS MAY NOT MAKE THE SYSTEM FOR COLLECTING COMMUNITY CHARGES AND DUES LESS EFFECTIVE THAN THAT FOR COLLECTING NATIONAL CHARGES AND DUES OF THE SAME KIND .

19 THAT CONSIDERATION HAS FOUND EXPRESSION IN THE COUNCIL DECISION OF 21 APRIL 1970 ON THE REPLACEMENT OF FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MEMBER STATES BY THE COMMUNITY ' S OWN RESOURCES ( ALREADY CITED ), ARTICLE 6 OF WHICH STATES IN EXPRESS TERMS THAT COMMUNITY RESOURCES - WHICH INCLUDE AGRICULTURAL LEVIES - ' ' SHALL BE COLLECTED BY THE MEMBER STATES IN ACCORDANCE WITH NATIONAL PROVISIONS IMPOSED BY LAW , REGULATION OR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION , WHICH SHALL , WHERE NECESSARY , BE AMENDED FOR THAT PURPOSE . ' '

20 THAT EXPRESS REFERENCE TO NATIONAL LAWS IS , HOWEVER , SUBJECT TO THE SAME LIMITS AS THOSE AFFECTING THE IMPLIED REFERENCE , THE NEED FOR WHICH HAS BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED IN THE ABSENCE OF COMMUNITY PROVISIONS , INASMUCH AS THE APPLICATION OF NATIONAL LEGISLATION MUST BE EFFECTED IN A NON-DISCRIMINATORY MANNER HAVING REGARD TO THE PROCEDURAL RULES RELATING TO DISPUTES OF THE SAME TYPE , BUT PURELY NATIONAL , AND IN SO FAR AS PROCEDURAL RULES CANNOT HAVE THE RESULT OF MAKING IMPOSSIBLE IN PRACTICE THE EXERCISE OF RIGHTS CONFERRED BY COMMUNITY LAW .

21 A SPECIAL SYSTEM OF NATIONAL RULES RELATING TO THE COLLECTION OF COMMUNITY CHARGES AND DUES WHICH RESTRICTS THE POWERS GRANTED TO THE NATIONAL AUTHORITY TO ENSURE THE COLLECTION OF THOSE CHARGES AS COMPARED WITH THE POWERS GRANTED TO THE SAME AUTHORITY IN REGARD TO NATIONAL CHARGES OR DUES OF THE SAME KIND IS THEREFORE NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH COMMUNITY LAW .

Decision on costs


22 THE COSTS INCURRED BY THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES , WHICH HAVE SUBMITTED OBSERVATIONS TO THE COURT , ARE NOT RECOVERABLE . AS THESE PROCEEDINGS ARE , IN SO FAR AS THE PARTIES TO THE MAIN ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED , IN THE NATURE OF A STEP IN THE ACTIONS PENDING BEFORE THE NATIONAL COURT , THE DECISION ON COSTS IS A MATTER FOR THAT COURT .

Operative part


ON THOSE GROUNDS ,

THE COURT

IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTIONS REFERRED TO IT BY THE CORTE SUPREMA DI CASSAZIONE , ROME , BY ORDER OF 11 JANUARY 1979 , RECEIVED AT THE COURT REGISTRY ON 20 APRIL 1979 AND 9 AUGUST 1979 , HEREBY RULES :

1 . THE INTERPRETATION WHICH , IN THE EXERCISE OF THE JURISDICTION CONFERRED ON IT BY ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY , THE COURT OF JUSTICE GIVES TO A RULE OF COMMUNITY LAW , CLARIFIES AND DEFINES WHERE NECESSARY THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THAT RULE AS IT MUST BE OR OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN UNDERSTOOD AND APPLIED FROM THE TIME OF ITS COMING INTO FORCE . IT FOLLOWS THAT THE RULE AS THUS INTERPRETED MAY , AND MUST , BE APPLIED BY THE COURTS EVEN TO LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ARISING AND ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE JUDGMENT RULING ON THE REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION , PROVIDED THAT IN OTHER RESPECTS THE CONDITIONS ENABLING AN ACTION RELATING TO THE APPLICATION OF THAT RULE TO BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION ARE SATISFIED . IT IS ONLY EXCEPTIONALLY THAT THE COURT MAY BE MOVED , IN THE SAME JUDGMENT AS THAT RULING ON THE REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION , TO RESTRICT FOR ANY PERSON CONCERNED THE OPPORTUNITY OF RELYING UPON THE PROVISION AS THUS INTERPRETED WITH A VIEW TO CALLING IN QUESTION LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS ARISING AND ESTABLISHED PRIOR THERETO .

2 . A SPECIAL SYSTEM OF NATIONAL RULES RELATING TO THE COLLECTION OF COMMUNITY CHARGES AND DUES WHICH RESTRICTS THE POWERS GIVEN TO THE NATIONAL AUTHORITY TO ENSURE THE COLLECTION OF THOSE CHARGES AS COMPARED WITH THE POWERS GRANTED TO THE SAME AUTHORITY IN RESPECT OF NATIONAL CHARGES OR DUES OF THE SAME KIND IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH COMMUNITY LAW .

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