2021

Amedeo ARENA, Assistant professor, Faculty of Law, University ‘Federico II’, Napoli, Italy, From an electricity bill to the supremacy of European law, or the making of Costa v. ENEL

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.31178/AUBD.2021.02

Abstract: Whilst Costa vs. ENEL is the locus classicus for most accounts of the primacy of European law, the story of that lawsuit is still relatively unknown. What drove Flaminio Costa to sue his electricity provider over a bill of as little as 1.925 (about €22 in 2020)? Why did the Small-claims Court of Milan decide to involve both the Italian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice in such a „petty” lawsuit? Why did those two courts hand down such different rulings? How did the lawsuit end when it came back from Luxembourg? Relying upon previously undisclosed court documents and interviews with some of the actors involved, this paper seeks to shed some light on the less-known aspects of the Costa v ENEL lawsuit, against the background of electricity nationalization in Italy at the height of the Cold War, and to assess the contribution of that lawsuit and of its „architect”, Gian Galeazzo Stendardi, to the approfondissement of the doctrine of primacy of European law.

Keywords: European Union legal history, Primacy of Community law, Constitutionality Review, Preliminary Ruling, Judicial Empowerment.


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