Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans
Chapter 11: Financial penalties for non-execution of judgments of the Court of Justice
The aspiration of EU law to impose itself as an efficient legal system has led to the establishment of financial penalties in the case of non-compliance with judgments of the Court of Justice (hereinafter ‘the Court’). Meant to consolidate the structure of the Communities (the Union) as a community of law, the instrument of financial penalties was adopted by the Maastricht Treaty, which enacted, however, more than a legal amendment. In fact, it opened a new chapter in the understanding of the concept of supervision, both in relation to the Commission’s role as a guardian of the Treaties and the Member States’ position, while ensuring the obligations flowing from the Treaties. The tangible risk of financial burden in the case of non-execution of the Court’s judgment constitutes a striking shift in comparison to the founding EEC Treaty focusing on the principle of loyal cooperation. Undoubtedly, during the first years after the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, the provisions of the former Article 171 of the EC Treaty remained unapplied. Calculated to impel compliance, financial penalties have passed a long way from being almost ‘lettre morte’ of the Treaty to becoming an ordinary measure of enforcement, as evidenced by an increasing number of actions by the European Commission (hereinafter ‘the Commission’), provided for in Article 260(2) TFEU. This development was reaffirmed by several strong pronouncements by the Court, substantiated by the adoption of detailed guidelines by the Commission.
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