Francovich v Italy

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Francovich v Italy
European stars.svg
Submitted 8 January 1990
Decided 19 November 1991
Full case name Andrea Francovich and Danila Bonifaci and others v Italian Republic.
Case number C-6/90
Case type Reference for a preliminary ruling
Chamber Full court
Nationality of parties Italy
Procedural history Pretura di Bassano del Grappa, Sezione lavoro, ordinanza del 30/12/1989, Pretura di Bassano del Grappa, Sezione lavoro, sentenza del 09/07/1992 03/08/1992 (273/92), Pretura circondariale di Bassano del Grappa, sentenza del 09/12/1993 (162/93), Pretura circondariale di Bassano del Grappa, ordinanza del 21/03/1995 (839 RG 162/93), Pretura di Vicenza, Sezione lavoro, ordinanza del 09/07/1989 10/07/1989 (1186/89), Pretura circondariale di Vicenza, Sezione lavoro, ordinanza del 16/12/1993 (206/93 (1186/89))
Ruling
1. The provisions of Council Directive 80/987/EEC of 20 October 1980 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer which determine the rights of employees must be interpreted as meaning that the persons concerned cannot enforce those rights against the State before the national courts where no implementing measures are adopted within the prescribed period;

2. A Member State is required to make good loss and damage caused to individuals by failure to transpose Directive 80/987/EEC.
Court composition

Francovich v Italy (1990) C-6/90 was a decision of the European Court of Justice which established that European Union member states could be liable to pay compensation to individuals who suffered a loss by reason of the member state's failure to transpose an EU directive into national law. It is sometimes known as the principle of state liability in European Union law.

Facts[edit]

Under the Insolvency Protection Directive 80/987 (now 2008/94/EC) EU member states were expected to enact provisions in their national law to give a minimum level insurance for employees who had wages unpaid if their employers went insolvent. Mr Francovich, who had worked in Venice for CDN Elettronica SnC, was owed 6 million Lira, and Mr Bonifaci and 33 of his colleagues were owed 253 million Lira together after their company, Gaia Confezioni Srl, had gone bankrupt. The Directive was meant to be implemented by 1983, but five years later they had been paid nothing, as the company liquidators had informed them that no money was left. They brought a claim against the Italian state, arguing that it must pay damages to compensate for their losses instead, on account of a failure to implement the Directive.

Judgment[edit]

The European Court of Justice held that the Italian government had breached its obligations, and was liable to compensate the workers' loss resulting from the breach. The Court further held that the damages for such breaches should be available before national courts, and that to establish state liability on the basis of the failure the implement a directive, claimants must prove that the directive conferred specific rights on them, identifiable in its wording, and that there is a causal link between the state's failure to implement the directive and the loss suffered.

31 It should be borne in mind at the outset that the EEC Treaty has created its own legal system, which is integrated into the legal systems of the Member States and which their courts are bound to apply. The subjects of that legal system are not only the Member States but also their nationals. Just as it imposes burdens on individuals, Community law is also intended to give rise to rights which become part of their legal patrimony. Those rights arise not only where they are expressly granted by the Treaty but also by virtue of obligations which the Treaty imposes in a clearly defined manner both on individuals and on the Member States and the Community institutions (see the judgments in Case 26/62 Van Gend en Loos [1963] ECR 1 and Case 6/64 Costa v ENEL [1964] ECR 585).

32 Furthermore, it has been consistently held that the national courts whose task it is to apply the provisions of Community law in areas within their jurisdiction must ensure that those rules take full effect and must protect the rights which they confer on individuals (see in particular the judgments in Case 106/77 Amministrazione delle Finanze dello Stato v Simmenthal [1978] ECR 629, paragraph 16, and Case C-213/89 Factortame [1990] ECR I-2433, paragraph 19).

33 The full effectiveness of Community rules would be impaired and the protection of the rights which they grant would be weakened if individuals were unable to obtain redress when their rights are infringed by a breach of Community law for which a Member State can be held responsible.

34 The possibility of obtaining redress from the Member State is particularly indispensable where, as in this case, the full effectiveness of Community rules is subject to prior action on the part of the State and where, consequently, in the absence of such action, individuals cannot enforce before the national courts the rights conferred upon them by Community law.

35 It follows that the principle whereby a State must be liable for loss and damage caused to individuals as a result of breaches of Community law for which the State can be held responsible is inherent in the system of the Treaty.

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