Historical Archives of the European Union

New procedure files from the Court of Justice of the EU now available

The inventory on the Court of Justice of the European Union’s original procedure records for the years 1981 and 1982 is now accessible in the HAEU database, and the files are available for consultation in digital format under specific access conditions.

31/03/2021 | News

The 586 new files available to users pertain to 671 cases ruled by the CJEU in 1981 and 1982. Several cases ruled in this period had an important impact on EU law, including the Levin case, the “Buy Irish campaign” case, as well as the case 283/81 and its CILFIT judgment.

The case 53/81, Levin v. the Dutch Secretary of State for Justice (Staatssecretaris van Justitie), concerns the free movement of workers. The application for a residence permit by Ms Levin, a British national married to a South African national, who lived and worked in the Netherlands, had been rejected by the Dutch authorities, due to the fact that Ms Levin's salary income was well below what could be considered necessary income under Dutch law. Consequently, the question was whether, under these circumstances Ms. Levin could be considered as worker under European law. The Court with the judgment 53/81 of 23 March 1982 established the criteria for the concept of worker and salaried activity under European law. According to these criteria, while it is important to verify that the work activity is effective and genuine, the fact that the income derived from this activity is lower than the minimum required for subsistence as understood in that Member State does not constitute a relevant criterion in the Court's definition. Thus, once a person pursues or wishes to pursue an effective and genuine activity, his fundamental freedom of movement, as a worker, must be guaranteed.

The case 249/81, European Commission v. Ireland, concerning the free movement of goods, also known as the "Buy Irish campaign", pertained to a nationwide advertising campaign, led by the Irish Goods Council, and promoting national products under the slogan "buy Irish". This practice led the EC Commission to take Ireland to the CJEU, which established that the practice of promoting the purchase of national products through public authorities was contrary to Article 30 of the EC Treaty (Article 34 of the TEU). Indeed, although without any binding force, this campaign may be capable of influencing the conduct of traders and consumers, and therefore constitutes a quantitative restriction on trade between Member States of the European Union.

The CILFIT judgment of 6 October 1982, resulting from case 283/81, is at the origin of the so-called “Acte clair” theory. Since the CILFIT judgment, the national courts of last resort in the context of Community law, although in principle subject to the obligation to refer the matter to the CJEU for questions of interpretation of the treaties raised before them, are not required to do so, if the Court has already ruled on a materially identical question, if the correct application of EU law is required with such evidence that it leaves no reasonable doubt as to the interpretation of it, or if the question is irrelevant - because it has no effect on the outcome of the dispute.

The new set of procedure files, available to users in digital format upon request, constitutes a key source of information to analyse the historical processes leading to the judgements of the Court in the exercise of its adjudicative functions.

Following the contract signed in July 2014 between the Court and the European University Institute, and governed by Council Regulation (EU) 2015/496 on the deposit of the historical archives of the European Union institutions at the HAEU, new archival sets of the CJEU are regularly deposited in Florence and made available for public consultation.

To know more about access conditions and use, click here.

To consult the inventory of the archival holdings of the CJEU, click here.

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