Question Debbie Law

The difference between Direct and Indirect Effect

What is the difference between Direct and Indirect Effect?

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Answer Internal Staff

The principle of direct effect gives rise to a right for an individual to be able to rely on EU law directly in a national court. The principle was developed in Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse (Case 26/62). It could be asserted, therefore, that the principle of direct effect is a private EU law enforcement means, as opposed to public EU law enforcement, which occurs when an institution of the EU takes action against a Member State for that Member State’s breach of EU law (Fairhust, 2010). The scope of this principle was limited to provisions that were that sufficiently precise and unconditional (Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse (Case 26/62)).

The principle of indirect effect is a principle by which when a piece of EU law cannot be relied upon by an individual in a national court, that individual can instead rely on the principle stating that national law must be consistently interpreted with EU law. This indirect effect of the EU law influences how national law is interpreted. It has been considered that the principle of indirect effect is a ‘practical manifestation of the sovereignty of EU law’, due to national law interpretations consistent with EU law taking precedence over interpretations that are not consistent with EU law.


Fairhust M., (2010) Law of the European Union. 8th Ed., Pearson Longman

Berry E, Matthew J. Homewood, Bogusz B. (2015) Complete EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastinge (Case 26/62) 1963