Supremacy of EU law (Ro.: suprematia dreptului comunitar, Fr.: primauté du droit de l'Union européenne, De.: Vorrang des EU-Rechts, Gr.: υπεροχή του δικαίου της ΕΕ) [See also: direct effect, primacy, conflict of laws, princiles of EU law] = the principle which dictates that, when there is a conflict between EU law and the national laws of Member States, European Union law prevails. Therefore, domestic courts are implicitly forced to disapply national conflicting legislation. Although not initially enshrined in the primary legislation of the European Union, the principle has been confirmed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). All Member States accept the primacy of EU law, although most national courts also reserve the right (in principle) to review the constitutionality of European law under national constitutional law. 


Useful resources

Legislation – Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 17: Declaration concerning primacy [English]

Case law – ECJ, Case 26/62 Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen, 1963 - ECJ, Case 6/64 Costa v Enel¸1964 - ECJ, Case 106/77 Amministrazione delle Finanze dello Stato v Simmenthal SpA, 1978 - House of Lords (UK), R (Factortame Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport, 1990 - House of Lords (UK), R (HS2 Action Alliance Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport, 2014

Online publications - Albi, 2007, Supremacy of EC Law in the New Member States, European Constitutional Law Review Vol 3 [English] - Apetrei I.; Ștefan A., 2014, The complicated road between failure and success: The EU version, [English] - Cărăbaș A., 2013, Constitutional Justice in Europe and the United States of America. A Comparative View, [English] - Cruz, The Changing Constitutional Role of the European Court of Justice, International Journal of Legal Information [English] - Esposito F., 2014, Does European Union citizenship impact upon national sovereignty?, [English] - Trstenjak, 2013, National Sovereignity and the Principle of Primacy in EU Law and Their Importance for the Member States, Beijing Law Review [English]


Claes, 2016, The validity and primacy of EU law and the "co-operative relationship" between national constitutional courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union, Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law [English]

Gaspar-Szilagyi, 2015, The "primacy" and "direct effect" of EU international agreements, European Public Law [English]

Policcino, 2010, The New Relationship between National and the European Courts after the Enlargement of Europe: Towards a Unitary Theory of Jurisprudential Supranational Law?, Yearbook of European Law [English]

Van Gestel, 2014, Primacy of the European legislature? Delegated rule-making and the decline of the "transmission belt" theory, The Theory and Practice of Legislation [English]


By Sabina Aionesei