The Application of EC Law by National Courts: The Free Movement of Goods

By Malcolm A. Jarvis | Go to book overview

2 Article 30 and imports

1 LEGAL STRUCTURE AND SCOPE

Article 30 of the EC Treaty governs the import of goods from other Member States. That Article provides for a strict prohibition on import restrictions in the following terms:

Quantitative restrictions on imports and all measures having equivalent effect shall . . . be prohibited between Member States.

Two preliminary comments may be set out at this stage. Firstly, because of the fundamental importance of the principle of the free movement of goods, Article 30 has been strictly enforced. A common theme running throughout the European Court of Justice's (ECJ's) interpretation of Article 30 is that the prohibition contained in Article 30, as a basic freedom under the Treaty, must be interpreted as broadly as possible.1 Secondly, the important issue of the direct effect of the provisions of Community law should not be overlooked. It will be recalled that sufficiently clear, precise, and unconditional Community provisions will have direct effect.2 The consequence of this is that a provision, if directly effective, creates individual rights which national courts are bound to protect. All the Treaty provisions on the free movement of goods have been held by the ECJ to have direct effect3 and the important practical consequence of this is that individuals may rely upon those provisions to enforce their rights before national courts.


(A) The definition of 'goods'

Although the wording of Article 30 refers only to 'imports' and makes no direct reference to 'goods' as such, it is clear from the position of this Article in Title 1 of the EC Treaty, concerning the 'free movement of goods', that Article 30 refers only to restrictions on the importation of 'goods'. The ECJ has defined 'goods' as 'products which can be valued in

____________________
1
Correspondingly, as will be shown, the exceptions and justifications for breaches of Art. 30 have been narrowly construed; see Chs. 6 & 7. It should further be noted that the ECJ has always rejected any role for a de minimis principle for Art. 30: Case 177/82 Van de Haar [ 1984] ECR 1797, [ 1983] 1 CMLR 566. This will be discussed in detail in Ch. 3, sect. 2C).
2
See Case 26/62 Van Gend en Loos [ 1963] ECR 1, [ 1963] CMLR 105.
3
See, e.g., Case 74/76 Ianelli and Volpi [ 1977] ECR 557.

-6-

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