No. 21




Remedies for Breach of European Union Law Revisited

16 June 2010


RiTo No. 21, 2010

  • Jaanika Erne

    Doctoral Student, Tartu University, Faculty of Law

The article explains natural and private legal persons’ judicial and non-judicial remedies for breaches of EU law.

“Remedy” is understood as a tertiary right in the prescription of a judicial or non-judicial decision. An example of EU law: “If the action is well founded, the Court of Justice of the European Union shall declare the act concerned to be void” (Article 264 TFEU). Remedy here is the declaration to be void.

With the help of this definition and example, the author of the article attempts to classify the remedies available for natural and private legal persons for breaches of EU law in the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) and the European Commission. Concerning judicial remedies, an analysis is done on remedies given in response to the following direct actions by natural and private legal persons: the action for annulment, the action for failure to act, the action for damages, and civil service action. In the case of an infringement of EU law by a Member State, a natural or private legal person may apply for a legal remedy at a national court or non-judicial body or, alternatively, submit a complaint to the European Commission who may then start an infringement proceedings, and in the framework of such proceedings the Commission may bring an action of infringement against the state to the Court of Justice. Of these possibilities, the article analyses infringement proceedings in the European Commission and the Court of Justice. Against the model of the classification of actions as coercive, declaratory, and constitutive actions, remedies are classified as coercive, declaratory and constitutive remedies.

In addition to the remedies available in response to actions, remedies available as responses to indirect actions, such as the plea of illegality, the application for damages, and the application for interim measures are also analysed, as well as the consequences of the requests for preliminary rulings, appeals to the Court of Justice on the decisions given by the General Court, and appeals to the General Court on the decisions given by the Civil Service Tribunal.

Of non-judicial remedies, remedies given by the European Commission in the competition proceedings are analysed, according to the division of such proceedings into two larger sectors – competition and state aid. Under the competition sector, remedies given in cartels cases (infringements and exemptions), antitrust cases, and merger cases (infringements and exemptions) are presented. Remedies available in the state aid cases are introduced separately.
Hopefully, the article clarifies the complicated remedial system available for individuals in the cases of breach of EU law.

Full article in Estonian