Europees recht – Kolpinghuis

  • Datum: 8 oktober 1987

  • Rechtbankniveau: HvJEU

  • Rechtsgebied: Europees recht

  • Wetsartikelen: /


Kolpinghuis Nijmegen B.V. is a company that operates a café. Criminal proceedings were brought against this company for the sale and delivery of a beverage which it called “mineral water”, which consisted of carbon dioxide and tap water. This was a violation of Article 2 of the Inspection Regulation of the municipality of Nijmegen, which prohibits the stocking for sale and delivery of goods intended for trade and human consumption which are of unsound composition.

The Public Prosecutor relied upon Council Directive 80/777/EEC relating to the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral water. The provision of the directive ought to have been implemented within four years after the directive was notified (by July 17th, 1984). However, the national legislation was only amended on August 8th, 1985, whereas the alleged act occurred on August 7th, 1984.
For this reason, the Arnhem District Court submitted to the Court preliminary questions.

Legal question

1. Can an authority of a Member State (in this case the prosecuting body) rely against nationals of that Member State on a provision of a directive in a case which is not covered by the State’s own legislation or implementing provisions?;
2. Is a national court obliged, where a directive has not been implemented, to give direct effect to provisions of the directive which lend themselves to such treatment even where the individual concerned does not seek to derive any right from those provisions?;
3. Where a national court is required to interpret a national rule, should or may that court be guided in its interpretation by the provisions of an applicable directive?;
4. Does it make a difference to the answers to questions 1, 2 and 3, if on the material date (in this case August 7th, 1984) the period which the Member State had to adapt national law had not yet expired?

The Court of Justice

1. In its judgment of February 26th, 1986 in the Marshall Case, the Court emphasized that according to Article 189 of the EEC Treaty the binding nature of a directive, which constitutes the basis for the possibility of relying on the directive before a national court, exists on in relation to each Member State to which it is addressed. It follows that a directive may not of itself impose obligations on an individual and that a provision of a directive may not be relied upon as such against a person before a national court;
2. A national authority may not rely upon, against an individual, a provision of a directive whose necessary implementation in national law has not yet taken place;
3. In applying national law and in particular the provisions of a national law specifically introduced in order to implement the directive, national courts are required to interpret their national law in the light of the wording and purpose of the directive in order to achieve the result referred to in the third paragraph of Article 189 of the Treaty. However, a directive cannot of itself and independently of a national law adopted by a Member State for its implementation, have the effect of determining the liability in criminal law of persons who act in breach of the provisions of that directive;
4. It makes no difference if on the material date the person which the Member State had in which to adapt national law had not yet expired.