The Role of Preliminary References in the Uniform Application of EU Competition Law
Pursuant to Article 267 TFEU national courts can refer questions on the interpretation of the treaties and the validity and the interpretation of acts of the institutions, bodies or agencies of the Union. National courts that decide in the last resort are under an obligation to do so. Competition law is characterized by the possible simultaneous application of EU and national rules. Hence the question has arisen under what circumstances the Court of Justice can/will deliver a preliminary ruling on questions that relate to national competition law. This chapter discusses the ECJ’s case-law regarding preliminary references in the area of competition law, including the question to what extent national courts can refer questions when they are merely applying national competition law. This chapter also addresses the respective role of national courts and the ECJ in this form of judicial cooperation and highlights the importance of preliminary references in certain areas of competition law, in particular private enforcement (claims for damages).