CaseSnappy Blog

Decoding Judgements: EU Law vs National Law in Solange I

22 December 2023 | CaseSnappy Team

A close-up image of a game of chess, in which the white king is taking down the black king on a chess board with vintage look.


Welcome back to our "Decoding Judgements" blog series by CaseSnappy. This instalment spotlights an intriguing tussle between EU and national laws in the 1970 case of Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH v Einfuhr- und Vorratsstelle für Getreide und Futtermittel, better known as Solange I. A thrilling dance between the notions of legal sovereignty and realised rights, this case promises an insightful journey. Let's dissect it together.

The Right to Trade and the Law's Weight: Case Facts

Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH, a German company, found itself wrestling with an export licensing system established under the Common Agricultural Policy. The company claimed the system was excessively violating their business rights, a contention framed under the German Basic Law. The dispute was eventually brought to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) via the German Administrative Court.

Sovereignty or Universality? The Legal Issues

The burning question at the heart of Solange I was the status of EU law when it came into conflict with provisions of national law, especially those provisions concerning fundamental rights protection.

The Verdict: Nationality vs Community

In a ground-breaking decision, the ECJ ruled that no EU measures could be contested employing national legal rules or concepts, even if such contestation was premised on potential infringement of constitutional rights. The German courts followed suit, stipulating that they would desist from reviewing the legality of EU measures so long as the EU guaranteed protection at least equivalent to the one accorded by the German Constitution.

In a key passage, the European Court of Justice held that '[r]ecourse to the legal rules or concepts of national law in order to judge the validity of measures adopted by the institutions of the Community would have an adverse effect on the uniformity and efficacy of Community law... respect for fundamental rights forms an integral part of the general principles of law protected by the Court of Justice.'

In response, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (German Constitutional Court) stated that ' the hypothetical case of a conflict between Community law and... the guarantees of fundamental rights in the Constitution... the guarantee of fundamental rights in the Constitution prevails as long as the competent organs of the Community have not removed the conflict of norms in accordance with the Treaty mechanism.'

CaseSnappy: Simplifying The Maze Of Judgements

Solange I furnishes invaluable insights into the delicate balance between EU law and national law, charting unexplored territory in the realm of rights. As always, CaseSnappy's 'Decoding Judgements' series seeks to unravel these intricate legal battles, rendering the complexities of the law more digestible to our readers.

Don't forget to catch our next 'Decoding Judgements' update! Sign up to CaseSnappy now for free and unlock your potential to turbocharge your legal research skills.

Get started
By using CaseSnappy, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.