A Discussion of Van Gend en Loos v Inland Revenue

Authors Avatar by maksohail71hotmailcom (student)

Inland Revenue v Van Gend en Loos – A Discussion


The judgment in N.V. Algemene Transport – en Expeditie Onderneming van Gend en Loos (hereinafter referred as ‘VGL’) v Inland Revenue of Netherlands (hereinafter referred as ‘IL’) was revolutionary; it transformed the constitutional framework of the European Union.

The Details:

On 9 September 1960 VGL imported certain amount of aqueous ureaformaldehyde from Germany to Nederlands.  The product was classified under the heading of 39.01-a-1 in the taxation of import duties and per the taxonomy of ‘Tariefbesluit’ (or Brussels Protocol); the establishment applied an import tax of 8% for the goods imported.  However, VGL lodged a formal objection with the authorities against the tariff based on the EEC treaty which allows the goods to be taxed under heading 279-a-2 for taxation at 3% (for intra-community trade); but IL applied the new heading of 39.01-a  to tax VGL at 8% and hence Netherlands infringed on Article 12 of the EEC treaty.  This protest was dismissed in March 1961 due to inadmissibility, VGL further appealed in ‘Tariefcommissie’ in April 1961, case heard in May 1962 and responded to VGL stating that the classification was based on heading 332 and not under 279-a-2, furthermore, the tariff levied on the goods was reduced from 10% to 8% under 332.  However, the Tariefcommissie forwarded the case in compliance of Article 177 (3) of the Treaty to ECJ on VGL arguments in the interpretation of EEC Treaty and the increase in costs of duty on inter-community trade.  

Identification of critical issues:

There are certain critical issues: (a) Can individuals enforce individual rights and these must be so protected by the courts of that member States or ECJ under Article 12 of EEC Treaty? (b) If yes to (a) above, whether the tariff of 8% on the product imported by VGL represents an illegitimate increase in the context of Article 12?  And (c) Jurisdictional issue, where a court from a member state requests ‘preliminary ruling’ from the EU Court on ‘interpretation of the Treaty’.  

Join now!

Analysis of Legal Arguments:


Let us begin with jurisdiction first, under the ambit of Article 177, the EU court has jurisdiction over the member-state court where it involves interpretation of the phrases and words of the Treaty, and this issue was not objected to.  However, the Benelux countries concurred that they infringed Article 12 of the Treaty under the Brussels Protocol and have increased the duty, but they disputed that such an infringement by a member state could be referred to ECJ on a commission’s initiative contravening Article 169 or 170. The Dutch believed that there is a conflict between ...

This is a preview of the whole essay