• In the case of Case C-119/05 Lucchini [2007] ECR I-6199, the European Court of Justice established that when national laws do not provide an adequate means of redress for violations of EU law, EU law may make it impossible for those laws to be applied.
  • This case involved EU supremacy, recovery of aid, procedural rules and European Economic Community law.
  • This case was also about the principle of effectiveness and res judicata.

Facts of the Case

  • C provided D with state aid which received state approval in Italy. Later, the Commission objected to this transaction so C reclaimed this payment.
  • In this preliminary ruling, D attempted to rely on the doctrine of res judicata and claimed these proceedings should not be repeated as a decision has been made.


  • This case questions whether EU law or national law triumphs when it comes to examining the intentions of the Common Market.
  • Can the res judicata principle coexist with European Economic Community laws?

Held by European Court of Justice

  • D’s claim dismissed – res judicata does not fall in line with European Economic Community laws.

Judge Skouris (President)

Community law and national law

  • Community law has primacy over national law so aid measures are therefore subject to review.
  • “While national courts may, in principle, have occasion to consider whether a Community act is valid, they nonetheless have no jurisdiction themselves to declare acts of Community institutions invalid (Case 314/85 Foto-Frost [1987] ECR 4199, paragraph 20).”
  • “A national court which is called upon, within the exercise of its jurisdiction, to apply provisions of Community law is under a duty to give full effect to those provisions, if necessary refusing of its own motion to apply any conflicting provision of national legislation.”

Recovery of state aid

  • “Community law precludes the application of a provision of national law, such as Article 2909 of the Italian Civil Code, which seeks to lay down the principle of res judicata in so far as the application of that provision prevents the recovery of State aid granted in breach of Community law which has been found to be incompatible with the common market in a decision of the Commission which has become final.”

Editor’s Notes

  • This case illustrated the supremacy of EU law and how national jurisdictions are limited when it comes to making decisions like handing out state aid.