Monthly Archives: April 2020

Three lessons on the relationship between EU and national law in the context of the duty of consistent interpretation

Sim Haket

Is it possible to avoid a conflict between EU and national law that would result in a national court disapplying the conflicting national provision? Under certain circumstances, the duty of consistent interpretation can offer a solution. For example: two individuals conclude a sales contract, which one subsequently claims is void under EU law whereas the other replies that it is a valid contract under national law. If the dispute comes before a national court, it can resolve this issue by interpreting the provision prescribing the validity of the contract in conformity with the EU law provision. But how do judges determine whether such an interpretation is possible? They will have to take into account requirements imposed by the duty of consistent interpretation, but also the discretion that is available to them under national rules of interpretation. Do existing theories on the relationship between EU and national law, i.e. primacy, national constitutionalism and constitutional pluralism, adequately explain the interaction between EU and national law in the context of the duty of consistent interpretation? In this blog, I offer three important lessons for answering this question. This is based on the full analysis of the question in my PhD thesis The EU law duty of consistent interpretation in German, Irish and Dutch courts.

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