Safeguarding the Uniformity of EU Law: A Bottom-Up Approach to Revision of Cilfit

Since 1982, the CJEU’s Cilfit judgment is leading in delineating the national courts’ obligation to refer preliminary questions to the CJEU, and thereby safeguarding the uniform interpretation of EU law. There are, however, clear indications that a long-due revision of Cilfit is underway. The surrounding debate has thus far focussed on one central issue: when is a question so unclear that it must be answered by the CJEU? On the basis of 85 qualitative interviews and systematic case law analyses on four diverging areas of law in three Member States, this paper shows that with this focus, multiple considerations of national courts to refer or not are neglected. Following from this bottom-up assessment of the national courts’ referral practice, a more comprehensive revision of Cilfit is suggested which is both feasible and effective in safeguarding the uniform interpretation of EU law.