• In the case of Case 33/76 Rewe-Zentralfinanz [1976] ECR 1989, the European Court of Justice ruled products sold lawfully from one Member State to another cannot be restricted.
  • This joint case involved custom duties, national courts and direct effect.

Facts of the Case

  • The first case was about the health inspections of fruit imported into Germany and how to interpret Treaty of Rome 1957 Article 13 and Council Regulation 159/66 Article 13.
  • The second case was about a levy paid on flower bulb exports and how to interpret Treaty of Rome 1957 Article 16 and Council Regulation 234/68 Article 10.

Issues

  • When charges having an effect equivalent to customs duties have been restricted, can an applicant use a remedy under European Economic Community law?
  • Is there a right to refund?

Held by European Court of Justice

  • Direct effect applies in both circumstances – Member States must uphold rights.

Judge Kutscher, C.J. (President)

Community law

  • Member States have the autonomy to decide their own procedural rules.
  • “In the absence of Community rules on this subject, it is for the domestic legal system of each Member State to designate the courts having jurisdiction and to determine the procedural conditions governing actions at law intended to ensure the protection of the rights which citizens have from the direct effect of Community law, it being understood that such conditions cannot be less favourable than those relating to similar actions of a domestic nature. The position would be different only if the conditions made it impossible in practice to exercise the rights which the national courts are obliged to protect.”

Advocate General (Mr. Jean-Pierre Warner)

National authority

  • “In the present state of Community law there is nothing to prevent a citizen who contests before a national court a decision of a national authority on the ground that it is incompatible with Community law from being confronted with the defence that limitation periods laid down by national law have expired”.