Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964

March 11, 2024
Micheal James

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Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964 is a landmark case in European Union (EU) law that established the supremacy of EU law over national law. This case study explores the background, legal issues, court proceedings, and implications of the ruling in shaping the legal framework of the EU.


In the early 1960s, Flaminio Costa, an Italian citizen, challenged the monopoly status of Ente Nazionale per l’Energia Elettrica (ENEL), the state-owned electricity company, before the Italian courts. Costa argued that ENEL’s exclusive rights to supply electricity violated his rights under the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC).

Facts of the Case

ENEL, established by Italian law, held a legal monopoly on electricity supply in Italy. However, Costa contended that ENEL’s monopoly conflicted with the principles of free movement of goods and competition enshrined in the EEC Treaty. He argued that EU law should prevail over conflicting national legislation.

Legal Issues

The key legal issue in Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964 was the conflict between national sovereignty and the supranational principles of the EEC Treaty. The case raised questions about the supremacy of EU law and the applicability of EU legal principles in national courts.

Applicable Law

EU law, as established by the EEC Treaty, governs the legal relationship between Member States and individuals within the EU. The principles of direct effect and supremacy ensure that EU law takes precedence over conflicting national laws, and Member States are obligated to comply with EU legal obligations.

Court Proceedings

Costa initiated legal proceedings before the Italian courts, challenging the legality of ENEL’s monopoly under EU law. The Italian courts referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of EU law.

ECJ Ruling

In its landmark ruling, the ECJ affirmed the supremacy of EU law and the principle of direct effect. The ECJ held that national courts must set aside any conflicting provisions of national law that would impede the full effectiveness of EU law. This ruling established the precedence of EU law over national legislation.


Following the ECJ’s ruling, Member States were required to ensure the effective application of EU law within their jurisdiction. The ruling had significant implications for national legal systems, as it established the primacy of EU law and the duty of Member States to comply with EU legal obligations.

Impact and Significance

Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964 had far-reaching implications for European integration and the development of EU law. The ruling strengthened the legal framework of the EU by affirming the supremacy of EU law and ensuring its uniform application across Member States. It established the ECJ as the ultimate arbiter of EU legal disputes and paved the way for further legal integration within the EU.


In conclusion, Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964 represents a milestone in the development of EU law and the process of European integration. The case underscored the supremacy of EU law over national legislation and reaffirmed the commitment of Member States to the principles of legal integration and cooperation within the EU. The ruling in Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964 continues to shape the legal framework of the EU and uphold the rights and obligations of individuals and Member States under EU law.

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<ref>{{cite web|last=Tutor |first=MyLaw |url=https://www.mylawtutor.net/cases/flaminio-costa-v-enel-1964 |title=Flaminio Costa v ENEL – 1964 |publisher=MyLawTutor.net |date=September 2012 |accessdate=25 April 2024 |location=UK, USA}}</ref>

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