Taking Constitutionalization One Step Too Far?
The Need for Revision of the Rheinmühlen Case Law
in the light of the AG Opinion
and the ECJ’s Ruling in Elchinov
The process of European integration has brought about the nationalization of many European obligations. One of the limits to this process of nationalization is the power, conferred solely upon the European Court of Justice (ECJ), to ensure, through the preliminary ruling procedure, the uniform interpretation of European law. In order to preserve this function of the ECJ, the Rheinmühlen case law established that the capacity of lower courts to ask preliminary questions cannot be curtailed by a rule of national law whereby a lower court is bound to the rulings of a higher court. In the recent Elchinov case, Advocate General Villalón questioned the necessity to maintain this case law. The paper aims at providing, after a brief explanation of the facts of the case, an assessment of the arguments of Villalón and an evaluation of whether, in the current state of development of the process of European integration, a step towards a further nationalization of European obligations would be advisable.