Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: July 2015

Conference “The Democratic Principle and the Economic and Monetary Union

University of Rome – Tor Vergata, 22 January 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 30 September 2015.

Conference “General Principles of Law: European and Comparative Perspectives”

University of Oxford, 25-26 September 2015. No deadline for registration.

Call for Papers Intellectual Property in International and European Law

Utrecht Journal of International and European Law. Deadline for submissions: 15 October 2015.

 

Reform of the EU’s Court System: Why a more accountable – not a larger – Court is the way forward

This post originally appeared on the Verfassungsblog and was co-authored by Laurent Pech.

Introduction

Recent media coverage of the EU Court of Justice suggests that the period of ‘benign neglect by the powers that be and the mass media’ – once described by Professor Eric Stein – may well be truly over once and for all. The most unexpected aspect of this rather unique level of media attention is that it does not directly concern any particular judicial ruling by a Court, which, since it decided its first case in 1954, has issued more than 28,000 judgments and orders. Instead, the Court of Justice (CJ) and its President, Mr Vassilios Skouris, have been subject to unprecedented media scrutiny following intense internal infighting about a contentious proposal which officially aims to ‘reinforce the efficiency of justice at EU level’ by doubling the number of judges working at the General Court (GC).

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Zuchtvieh-Export GmbH v Stadt Kempten: The Extraterritorial Reach of EU Animal Welfare Rules

In an interesting judgment, the CJEU has ruled that Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport applies outside of EU borders to transport taking place in third states, if that transport began on EU territory. This is a novel ruling that is expected to have important positive impacts on animal welfare. However, it can also be seen as an example of the CJEU’s tendency in recent years to read the EU’s jurisdiction expansively, stretching traditional international law notions of ‘territorial jurisdiction’ to permit the regulation of conduct taking place in third states. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: June 2015

Summer Academy in Global Food Law and Policy

Bilbao, 20-24 July 2015. Deadline for application: 18 June 2015.

Conference “Constructive Links or Dangerous Liaisons? The Case of Public International Law and European Union Law”

Queen Mary University of London, 25-26 June 2015. Registration open.

Critical Legal Conference 2015 “Law, Space and the Political”

University of Wroclaw, 3-5 September 2015. Deadline for paper proposal submission: 30 June 2015.

Call for Papers “5es Journées des Doctorants du Centre de Droit des Migrations”

Muntelier-Leuwenberg, Universities of Bern/Fribourg/Neuchâtel, 26-27 November 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions: 19 August 2015.

Call for Papers for the PhD Forum “Law and Governance in the Digital Era”

University of Amsterdam, 20 November 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions: 4 September 2015.

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: May 2015

Summer Schools “Dublin III: Two Years on”, “Venice School of Human Rights”, “Venice Academy of Human Rights”

European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation, Venice, 19-21 June/26 June – 4 July/6 – 15 July 2015. Deadline for application: 21 May 2015/check website.

Conference “The European Convention on Human Rights and General International Law”

European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, 5 June 2015. Deadline for registration: 28 May 2015.

Summer School “The Protection of Fundamental Rights in Europe”

University of Bologna, 28 June – 3 July 2015. Deadline for application: 10 June 2015.

Conference “20 Years Later: The Legacy of Bosman”

TMC Asser Institute, 18 June 2015. No deadline for registration.

Curtailing the Commission’s right to withdraw: Case C-409/13 Council v. Commission

This post concerns an interesting case (commented on by Steve Peers a while ago) on one of the main powers of the Commission that accompanies its right to initiate legislation: its right to withdraw a proposal. In Case C-409/13 Council v. Commission the Grand Chamber of the Court had to decide on the limits of this power to withdraw and its judgment has important implications for the balance of powers among the EU’s institutions. In a nutshell, the Court required the Commission to state reasons for an act of withdrawal and even assessed the Commission’s actions on the merits. While this means that withdrawals by the Commission may be challenged on both procedural and substantive grounds, the Court did nonetheless exercise deference towards the Commission. The case may have implications for the Commission’s controversial policy to ‘improve’ EU rules by inter alia withdrawing proposals for ‘unnecessary’ legislation in the future, although the deadline for challenging the withdrawal of the circular economy legislative package has already passed. Continue reading

Joined Cases C-446/12 – 449/12 Willems: The CJEU washes its hands of Member States’ fingerprint retention

When is the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU applicable to a Member State measure? In C-446/12 – 449/12 Willems the CJEU held that a Member State which stores and uses fingerprint data, originally collected in compliance with Regulation No 2252/2004, but which the Member State then uses for purposes other than those stipulated in the Regulation, is not acting within the scope of EU law, and therefore is not bound by the Charter. This case appears to indicate a retreat by the Court from the expansive interpretation of the scope of application of the Charter which it had previously laid down in C-617/10 FranssonContinue reading

POMFR: Public Services in EU Law by Wolf Sauter

Wolf Sauter, Public Services in EU Law, Cambridge University Press 2014, 262 pages, GBP 65.00/ USD 99.00, ISBN: 9781107642423

Situated between the market and the state, the notion, concept and characteristics of public services are often multifaceted and difficult to grasp. The EU layer of public service regulation further adds to this complexity as it interacts in many different ways with the national legal frameworks in this field: EU law may structure national legal norms, coordinate the provision of services between the Member States, bring about minimal or maximal standards (e.g. pertaining to quality, ubiquity or affordability of the services provided), comprise detailed regulation or even set prices for the provision of public services as in the case of mobile roaming tariffs. At the same time the law on public services is under the influence of a whole range of EU law provisions and regimes: namely the rules on free movement, competition law and state aid, general and sector-specific primary law provisions, horizontal rules of secondary law, as well as a large body of sector-specific secondary EU law, which has increased substantially over the past few years. With his book Public Services in EU Law Wolf Sauter undertakes a challenging attempt to elucidate the complexity of EU law in the field of public services. Continue reading

C-81/13 UK v Council – Third time and still no charm?

1.       Introduction

When rendering one of its last judgments of 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court) had the opportunity to end once and for all the dispute of (now) three rounds between the United Kingdom (UK) and the Council of the European Union (Council) over the legal basis to be used when the EU wishes to adopt jointly, within the framework of an association agreement with a third country, a social legislation benefitting the migrating workers of both parties.

As the UK did in earlier cases on this topic submitted to the Court, in case C-81/13 UK v Council it criticised the Council once more for using Article 48 TFEU as the substantive legal basis for the adoption of a social security measure implementing an association agreement, in this particular case the Council Decision 2012/776/EU, which aimed to update the obsolete implementing provisions on the coordination of social security systems as established by the EEC-Turkey Association Agreement (Agreement).

The following post discusses whether the judgment delivered by the Grand Chamber of the Court in this case has been successful in finally bringing the above-mentioned dispute to an end, and it also provides a closer look on the Court’s reasoning as regards the choice of legal basis in relation to the measures implementing association agreements. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: April 2015

Conference “Hungarian Particularism in the European Union: Politico-Legal Perspectives”

Central European University, Budapest, 15 May 2015.

Conference “Chasing criminal money in the EU: new tools and practices”

University of Luxembourg, 15-16 June 2015. Deadline for registration: 22 May 2015.

Summer School “The EU Area of Criminal Justice”

Université Libre de Bruxelles, 29 June – 3 July 2015. Deadline for application: 31 May 2015.

Summer School “European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum” 

Université Libre de Bruxelles, 29 June – 10 July 2015. Deadline for application : 5 June 2015.

Workshop “Constructive Links or Dangerous Liaisons? The Case of Public International Law and European Union Law”

Queen Mary School of Law, University of London, 25-26 June 2015. Deadline for registration: 23 June 2015.

Case C-354/13 Kaltoft v Municipality of Billund –Can obesity be a disability under EU equality law?

According to 2012 OECD data, 52% of EU adults are overweight or obese. It is thus not surprising that the recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Kaltoft (Case C-354/13), on whether obesity discrimination can amount to disability discrimination, has created quite a stir in the press. Following Advocate General (AG) Jääskinen’s Opinion, some media suggested that ‘Severe obesity is a disability’. As will be discussed in this post, the CJEU did not quite go as far as to accept that obesity is a disability, but it did recognise that, in some cases, differential treatment on the basis of obesity can amount to disability discrimination. Hence, this judgment marks another step forward towards clarifying the scope of EU equality law and bringing about a consistent application at national level.

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Opinion 2/13 of the Court of Justice on Access of the EU to the ECHR – One step ahead and two steps back

The present contribution is a translated and somewhat simplified version of an article that appeared in German on 23 March 2015 in the Swiss legal online-journal Jusletter. The authors thank the Jusletter for their kind permission to republish the article and Markus Kern and the European Law Blog’s editorial team for valuable comments on earlier versions.

 Readers of this blog will nearly inevitably already have been confronted with this decision. The reactions to the Court’s Opinion have been vivid, to say the least. What did the Court say exactly on this draft agreement for accession to the ECHR? And is the current predominantly negative reaction (see for an exception here) justified? The main aim of the present post is to provide a concise summary of the Court’s findings, but also to provide some early assessment and criticism of the reactions on particular points. After a brief historical introduction to the context of the Opinion, we follow the sequence of analysis of the Court and thus examine in turn:

  • the arguments of the Court on the autonomy of the EU legal order;
  • the monopoly on dispute settlement established by Article 344 TFEU;
  • the co-respondent mechanism;
  • the procedure for the prior involvement of the CJEU and the specific characteristics of EU law concerning judicial review in matters of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

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How Strict is “Strict Conditionality”? The New Eurozone Agreement on Greece

Few elections have as their core issue an international arrangement. The Greek election of 25 January 2015 was one of these exceptions. In 2010 and 2012, Greece agreed with its Eurozone partners and the IMF to accept two large bailout packages conditioned on the fulfilment of far-reaching, austerity-oriented reforms. It also agreed to submit to a monitoring mechanism comprised by officials from the European Commission, the IMF, and the ECB that would supervise its compliance with the conditions and regularly revise them. This monitoring and rule-making structure became known as the Troika.

The second of the bailout agreements, concluded in 2012, was due to expire on 28 February 2015. Unlike Portugal or Ireland, Greece had not established access to the bond market by the end of its Adjustment Programme. Ending international financing support at the end of February would thus possibly prompt a Greek default. What the next step after the expiry of the 2012 bailout programme should be was put to a national vote on 25 January.

This post will offer an overview of the recent major developments concerning the Greek part of the Eurozone crisis. It will discuss how the Greek government tried to challenge basic elements of the new European economic governance and the outcome of this challenge. In the first part of the post, I present the starting position of the new Greek government (1.), then the legal and political context in which the negotiations took place (2.), and finally the agreement of 20 February 2015 (3.). In my conclusion, I take the position that opponents of austerity should wait to celebrate a victory. “Strict conditionality”, the necessary counterpart of financial assistance according to EU law, proved to be much stricter than many actors thought, both in economic and institutional terms (4.). Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: March 2015

Seminar “The Future of EU Free Movement”

University of Edinburgh, 26 March 2015. No deadline for registration.

Call for Papers: Soft Law before the European Courts

Maastricht University, November 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions: 30 March 2015.

Call for Papers: The Extraterritorial Application of EU Law

Vigo, 18-19 June 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions : 1 April 2015. Continue reading

On Black Cabs and bus lanes: a middle-of-the-road judgment by the CJEU in Eventech

Most state aid cases seem relatively straightforward, with the most notable exception being tax cases which had their fair share of attention recently. When I read a summary of the Eventech case (C-518/13), at first glance it seemed to fall in the straightforward category. However, as one may recall from tax state aid cases, often the most difficult aspects of these cases are the criteria of selectivity and the involvement of state resources. And it just so happens that these criteria are the main issues at stake before the CJEU in Eventech, which makes it a judgment worthy of some further discussion.

Anyone who has ever been to London knows the distinctive Black Cabs which are probably as much a British symbol as their well-known bigger sisters, the red double-deckers. What you may not know (at least I didn’t) is that there are also other kinds of taxis in London called minicabs.

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Albany revisited: the Court directs NCA to carry a more social tune

In C-413/13 FNV Kunsten Informatie en Media, the Court decided that competition law does not apply to arrangements among freelance substitute orchestra musicians that aim to improving their working conditions if they can be qualifed as ‘workers’. In so doing, the Court significantly expanded the scope for taking social interests into account within competition law analysis and rejected the more narrow and liberal approach taken by the Dutch National Competition Authority (NCA), the Dutch government and—not surprisingly—the European Commission. This is a significant case, not only because the Court for the first time had to deal with the increasingly more common phenomenon of the ‘false self-employed’ when interpreting competition law, but also because the Court once again demonstrated its willingness to take public interests other than economic efficiency into account when applying competition law (a holistic approach that, I argue, is fundamentally more in line with the EU treaties).

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The AG’s opinion on the Outright Monetary Transactions Case

Intro

On January 14, Advocate General (AG) Cruz-Villalón issued his opinion in the reference for a preliminary ruling on Gauweiler et al. v Deutscher Bundestag on the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT). The OMT Programme launched in September 2012 was part of a series of measures taken by the ECB in response to the Euro crisis accompanying the loan facilities (European Financial Stability Facility – EFSF, European Stability Mechansim – ESM).

The German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, “BVerfG”) had asked the Court of Justice (CJEU) two questions in what it classified as an ultra vires review of acts of the European Union. Roughly speaking, the BVerfG wanted to check whether the European Central Bank (ECB) had transgressed the limits of its powers derived from the treaties. If the ECB had, this would have consequences for the constitutional identity of Germany. Therefore, the BVerfG first wanted clarification on whether the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) Programme was an economic rather than a monetary measure and whether the ECB had therefore exceeded its powers by establishing it.  Second, the BVerfG raised the question whether the OMT programme was not violating the prohibition of monetary financing of Member State. Continue reading

POMFR: José Luís Da Cruz Vilaça, EU Law and Integration: Twenty Years of Judicial Application of EU Law

Sometimes a book wins you over, and José Luís Da Cruz Vilaça’s EU Law and Integration: Twenty Years of Judicial Application of EU Law (Oxford/Portland, Hart 2014), is such a book.

I must admit that I had some reservations at first over the concept of the book, which is in essence an overview of the legal career – both as a legal scholar and a judge – of José Luís Da Cruz Vilaça, on the basis of a series of articles on different topics written over the course of two decades. Books like this only stand out if they can avoid three traps. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: February 2015

Conference : 22nd St. Gallen International Competition Law Forum

University of St. Gallen, 23-24 April 2015.

Call for Papers: Conference “The State and/of Comparative Law”

University of Limerick, 2-4 June 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions: 28 February 2015.

Call for Papers: 50 Year Anniversary of Cahiers de droit européen – “General Principles of European Union Law”

Brussels, 10 September 2015. Deadline for summary presentations submissions: 1 March 2015. Continue reading

Cases C-401 to 403/12 and C-404 to 405/12: No review of legality in light of the Aarhus Convention

Should EU secondary legislation be reviewed against the benchmark of the provisions of an international agreement? In 2012 the General Court answered this question in the affirmative and annulled two decisions of the Commission which were based on a regulation which was deemed incompatible with the Aarhus Convention. However, the EU institutions appealed against those judgments. Consequently, in cases C‑401 to 403/12, Council e.a. v. Vereniging Milieudefensie and C-404 and 405/12, Council v. Stichting Natuur en Milieu e.a., the Grand Chamber of the Court was confronted with the same question. There is already quite some case law on the topic of review of legality within the EU legal order in light of international obligations of the EU, typically with the Court being hesitant to undertake such review. In the cases involving the Vereniging Milieudefensie and the Stichting Natuur en Milieu, the General Court and the Advocate General made, in my view, some valuable suggestions in favour of reviewing EU law against international agreements. Unfortunately, the Court decided to stick to its guns, thus continuing in the line of its own previous jurisprudence, and annulled the General Court’s judgments. The result leaves a somewhat sour taste for those who think that EU institutions and their legal acts should be amenable to judicial review under reasonable conditions. Not only is the very purpose of the EU regulation at issue to implement the obligations arising from the Aarhus Convention, but the Grand Chamber’s view also leads to a lacuna in legal protection in EU law exactly where the central aim of the Aarhus Convention would in theory be to provide individuals with access to justice. Continue reading