Get access

Towards Inverse Direct Effect? A Silent Development of a Core European Law Doctrine


  • Lorenzo Squintani,

  • Hans H.B. Vedder


In Salzburger Flughafen, the Court of Justice of the European Union extended the scope of the doctrine of direct effect to include one branch of a State being able to, without being asked to do so by a private party, rely on a provision of a Directive to impose an obligation upon another private party. The scope of this extension is difficult to determine due to the lack of the Advocate General's opinion, which could have clarified the administrative structure existing in Austria for the granting and legal review of environmental permits. This case note argues that Salzburger Flughafen can only be considered a positive development if it does not mean that a State can rely on direct effect vis-à-vis an individual. Therefore, this article pleads for a conservative interpretation of the case under which adverse repercussions on the rights of third parties, even if the repercussions are certain, do not justify preventing a Member State from relying on the provisions of a Directive against another emanation of itself. In other words, this case should be considered as an extension of the side effects of direct effect, and not as a limitation to the prohibition of ‘inverse vertical direct effect’.