Commission of the European Communities v. Italian Republic

[1986] ECR 1199 (1986)

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Commission of the European Communities v. Italian Republic

European Court of Justice
[1986] ECR 1199 (1986)

Facts

European Council Directive 78/660/EEC (directive) required European Economic Community (EEC) member states to coordinate national provisions regarding the presentation and content of annual accounts by July 31, 1980. The Italian Republic (Italy) (defendant) did not meet this deadline. In October 1982, the Commission of the European Communities (commission) (plaintiff) asked Italy for an update about Italy’s compliance status. In June 1984, the commission issued a reasoned opinion requesting Italy to comply with the directive within two months. In January 1985, the commission sued Italy in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), seeking a declaration that Italy had failed to meet its obligation to implement the directive under the treaty (EEC Treaty or Treaty of Rome) that established the EEC. Italy responded that it was considering a draft law to implement the directive and hoped to adopt the law shortly. The advocate general noted that none of the five EEC member states that adopted laws to implement the directive had done so by the July 1980 deadline and that the commission was pursuing litigation against three other EEC member states for not implementing the directive. Per the advocate general, these facts showed that it was difficult for member states to revise their laws regarding a highly technical subject matter that affected a vital area of commercial life. Nevertheless, the advocate general recommended that the ECJ rule in favor of the commission pursuant to ECJ precedent holding that an EEC member state could not rely on provisions, practices, or circumstances in its internal legal system to justify its failure to timely implement an EEC directive.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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