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Wir müssen reden! – We Need to Have a Serious Talk!

The Interaction between the Infringement Proceedings and the Preliminary Reference Procedure in Ensuring Compliance with eu Environmental Standards: A Case Study of Trianel, Altrip and Commission v Germany

Mariolina Eliantonio and Franziska Grashof

The preliminary ruling procedure and the infringement proceedings are generally considered to constitute complementary means for the enforcement of European Union law. This paper critically assesses the actual complementarity of the two procedures from the perspective of the communication of and approach to a problem before the Court of Justice. Furthermore, it considers to which extent this complementarity has improved or created new complications with respect to compliance with eu environmental standards. These two questions will be answered on the basis of a case study concerning three different rulings rendered by the Court of Justice in which one particular problem of (in-) compatibility of national rules with environmental Union law was at stake, namely the German Schutznormtheorie.