Review of EU legislation under EU international agreements revisited: Aarhus receives another blow

By Laurens Ankersmit and Benedikt Pirker

Challenging EU rules on the basis of EU agreements is very difficult. Challenging EU rules on the basis of the Aarhus Convention is pretty much impossible. In ClientEarth v Commission the Court reasoned once again that the Aarhus Convention could not be relied upon to invalidate EU secondary legislation. In this case, the Court found that ClientEarth could not rely on the Aarhus Convention to challenge the Public Access to Documents Regulation (Regulation 1049/2001) in order to obtain commissioned studies on compliance by Member States with EU environmental law in the context of infringement procedures. One of the arguments put forward by the Court was that the Aarhus Convention could not be relied upon because it ‘was manifestly designed with the national legal orders in mind’. This is an extraordinary statement, since the EU is party to the Convention and thus bound by it. It was no doubt inspired by the concern to protect the infringement procedure contained in article 258 TFEU, raising a number of questions on the relationship between EU primary, secondary and international law. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: November 2015

Conference “Soft law before the European courts : Discovering a common pattern ?”

Maastricht University Campus Brussels, 19-20 November 2015. Registration required.

Conference “Frontex : Legal Questions and Current Controversies”

University of Luxembourg, 27 November 2015. Deadline for (free) registration : 26 November 2015.

Young Scholars’ Conference 2016  “Law on the Move”

University of Michigan, 8-9 April 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions : 31 December 2015.

Call for Papers for a Symposium on “Constitutionalism Under Extreme Conditions”

University of Haifa, 18 July 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions : 1 February 2016.

Case C-216/14 Covaci –Minimum rules, yet effective protection?

By Stijn Lamberigts

Covaci is the first case dealing with two of the so-called Roadmap Directives on procedural safeguards in criminal proceedings, Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information in criminal proceedings. The Roadmap Directives are the latest attempt of the EU to increase the mutual trust between Member States (MS) in the field of criminal justice, by establishing EU minimum rules for procedural safeguards. An earlier attempt failed and some have questioned the added value of the Roadmap Directives to the standards provided by the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Both the CJEU and the national courts can play a defining role in ensuring that the minimum rules of the Roadmap Directives really contribute to more effective defence rights throughout the EU. The preliminary ruling in Covaci seems to indicate that the CJEU is willing to take up that role – to a large, but not unlimited, extent.  Continue reading

The Shortest Competition Judgment Ever: AC-Treuhand II

By Rick Busscher, Martin Herz, and Hans Vedder

Competition law judgments are notorious for their length. An extreme example is the 5134 paragraph judgment in Cement. In most cases the appeal judgment is significantly shorter, as with the 391 paragraphs in the appeal in Cement. AC-Treuhand is no exception to that rule, but it takes it to the extreme by reducing the Court’s reasoning to a single paragraph. This single paragraph supports the finding that cartel facilitators are also liable under Article 101 TFEU. The issue whether a company that is not active on the affected market should also be brought under the scope of article 101, is a difficult matter. However, the Court finds it ‘surprisingly’ easy to solve this matter, which raises practical points as well as some fundamental questions. We will discuss and comment on this one paragraph below, as well as on some of the fluff that surrounds it, but we will start with the facts. Continue reading

Case C-303/13 P European Commission v Jørgen Andersen

By Andrea Rigamonti

In this post I will analyse a particular aspect of State aid law: the temporal scope of secondary instruments applied to assess the aid’s compatibility. The case at hand deals in particular with Regulation (EEC) 1191/69, which originally came into force on 1 July 1969, and Regulation (EC) 1370/2007, which repealed the former instrument and came into force on 3 December 2009.

The dispute began in February 2010, when the Commission issued a decision addressed to the Kingdom of Denmark, declaring that the public transport service contracts granted to Danske Statsbaner SV (DSB) constituted (non-notified) State aid under Article 107(1) TFEU, but that such aid was compatible with the internal market on the basis of Regulation (EC) 1370/2007.

Mr. Andersen, a competitor of DSB on the route between Compenhagen and Ystad, challenged the decision in front of the General Court (GC), and the Commission subsequently appealed against the latter’s decision in front of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU).

This post will analyse the steps leading up to the CJEU’s final decision, which was rendered on 6 October 2015. Continue reading

Taricco kills two birds with one stone for the sake of the PIF

By Maxime Lassalle

The case C-105/14 Ivo Taricco and Others delivered on 8 September 2015 is a new example of activism of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU). It draws consequences from Åkerberg Fransson C-617/10 (already commented on this blog here and here), but this time goes in another direction as it extends the obligation of Member States in the field of criminal law for a more effective penalisation at the expense of national criminal procedure. Once again the obligations related to VAT collection are at stake, as was the case in Åkerberg Fransson, however this time from the point of view of the protection of the financial interests of the Union. In this field, the Member States have indeed the duty to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union (Article 325 (1) TFEU), the so-called “PIF fraud” (where PIF is a French acronym for ‘protection des intérêts financiers de l’Union’). In particular, they are required to “take the same measures to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union as they take to counter fraud affecting their own financial interests” (Article 325 (2)). In this Grand Chamber ruling, the Court took an opportunity to clearly express its will to include VAT fraud in the definition of PIF fraud and to significantly extend the obligations of the Member States to effectively penalize such fraud. Given the difficulties related to the ongoing negotiations on the project of PIF Directive, this decision is very timely. Continue reading

Case C-650/13 Delvigne – A Political Citizenship?

By Stephen Coutts

Citizenship is typically conceived of as membership in a political community, carrying with it certain rights and obligations, and especially the right to participate in the government of that community. Union citizenship has until recently been deficient in that regard. Despite the existence of a democratically elected assembly since 1979 in the form of the European Parliament, the links between this parliament and the status of Union citizenship have been ambiguous[1] with the parliament representing not a single group of Union citizens but rather the ‘peoples’ of Europe, those peoples being defined by Member States and national law.

The Treaty of Lisbon changes that paradigm, stating boldly that the European Parliament represents no longer the peoples of Europe but rather the ‘citizens of the Union’.[2] The link between Union citizenship and the European Parliament being made apparent, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the Court drew the conclusion that the rights of Union citizenship contained a stand-alone right to vote in European Parliamentary elections. That decision has just occurred in the judgment in Delvigne. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: October 2015

Conference “Central European Judges under the EU Influence: The Transformative Power of the EU Revisited“

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2 November 2015.

Conference “Between the State and Competition in the Single Market“

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 6 November 2015. (Free) registration required.

Workshop “Framing the Subjects and Objects of Contemporary EU law”

City University London, 6 November 2015. (Free) registration required.

ESIL Research Forum Call for Papers on the Making of International Law

Koç University Law School and the Center for Global Public Law, Istanbul, 21-22 April 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 1 November 2015.

ESIL 12th Annual Conference Call for Papers “How International Law Works in Times of Crisis”

Riga Graduate School of Law, 8-10 September 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 31 January 2016.

Call for Submissions for Special Issue on Trade and Public Health

Trade Law and Development. Deadline for submissions: 15 March 2016.

Schrems vs. Data Protection Commissioner: a slap on the wrist for the Commission and new powers for data protection authorities

By Fanny Coudert

On 6th of October, in Schrems vs. Data Protection Commissioner, the CJEU, following the controversial Opinion of AG Bot, put an end to the specific regime regulating data flows to the US. The 4600 US companies using this agreement are now forced to rethink how to ensure the continuity of the protection when data are transferred from EU to the US. In this milestone ruling, the Court also reaffirmed the key role played by national Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) in the European system of data protection, and clarified the different competences of the European Commission, the DPAs and the courts –including the ECJ- in assessing the adequate level of protection offered by a third country. Continue reading

Koen Lenaerts elected President of the European Court of Justice

By the editors

On Wednesday Koen Lenaerts was elected President of the European Court of Justice by the Judges of the Court for the term of three years. Mr Lenaerts succeeds Vassilios Skouris who had been president for the last twelve years. Mr Lenaerts is the second Belgian President of the Court after Josse Mertens de Wilmars (1980-1984) and had been Vice-President for the past three years. Also elected: Mr Tizzano as the new Vice-President of the Court and the Presidents of the different chambers.

[Edit: there is an interesting interview with Mr Lenaerts by Wall Street Journal journalist Valentina Pop. You can find it here.]

We take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Lenaerts, Mr Tizzano and the other elected Presidents and discuss some of the institutional and historical aspects of today’s elections. Continue reading

Had they only worked one month longer! An Analysis of the Alimanovic Case [2015] C-67/14

By Dion Kramer

In November 2014 the Dano judgment attracted unusual public attention, not least because of its importance for UK Prime-Minister David Cameron’s campaign against the phenomenon of ‘welfare tourism’. Although political and administrative attention has been redirected towards the mounting refugee crisis, scholars, administrators and some politicians have been eagerly awaiting the CJEU’s Alimanovic judgment in the sensitive field of EU citizens’ right to equal treatment as regards access to national welfare benefits. Dano made clear that Member States may reject claims to social assistance by EU citizens who have no intention to work and cannot support themselves. Alimanovic gave the Court the opportunity to clarify the application of this principle in the more complicated factual situation of an EU citizen who applies for social benefits after having worked for 11 months. In its bid to contribute to ‘legal certainty’ and ‘transparency’, Member States will for sure welcome the Court’s judgment, but the legacy of Brey still complicates the desired carte blanche for national authorities to refuse any claim to social assistance by indigent EU citizens. Continue reading

Joined cases C-72/14 and C-197/14 X and case C-160/14 Ferreira da Silva: is the ECJ reversing its position on the acte clair doctrine?

By Elisabet Ruiz Cairó

In two recent preliminary rulings, the ECJ elaborated on the applicability of the acte clair doctrine. In these judgments, the Court seems to be looking for a new balance between the adoption of a strict approach towards national judges who are unwilling to make preliminary references and maintaining a cooperative relationship with national courts, effectively relaxing the conditions under the Cilfit doctrine.

Continue reading

POMFR: Viking, Laval and the Question if Anybody Cares

By Christopher Unseld

Viking, Laval and Beyond”, edited by Mark Freedland and Jeremias Prassl, constitutes the first volume of Hart’s new series on “EU Law in the Member States”. In the series’ foreword Sacha Prechal lays out how crucial it is to understand the “genuine life of EU law in the Member States” since EU law – of course – is generally transposed, applied and enforced at the domestic level. But that is easier said than done. One needs good knowledge of EU law, domestic and comparative (EU) law to come close to some understanding of what Prechal calls EU law’s genuine life. And, let’s be honest, it is often hard enough to keep up with the current developments in EU law while not losing touch with domestic legal issues. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: September 2015

Conference “The European Union as an Actor in International Economic Law”

University of Luxembourg, 1-2 October 2015. Deadline for registration: 30 September 2015.

Conference “Criminal Justice: Jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice – Today and Future”

Court of Justice of the European Union, 2-3 October 2015. (Paid) registration required.

Inaugural CMLRev Conference “Membership of the Union and Membership of the Euro”

University of Liverpool, 9 October 2015. (Free) registration required.

Workshop “Mutual Legal Assistance in the Digital Age: Problems, Challenges, Solutions for Criminal Justice”

University of Luxembourg, 15 October 2015. (Free) registration required.

Workshop “A balanced data protection in the EU: conflicts and possible solutions”

UM Campus Brussels, University of Maastricht, 19 October 2015. (Paid) registration required.

Conference “Migration Policy in the European Union – Current Challenges and Future Developments”

University of Luxembourg, 22-23 October 2015.

Call for submissions for the 2016 edition of the Hibernian Law Journal

Deadline for submissions: 31 October 2015.

EIUC Training for International Electoral Observers

Monastery of San Nicolò, 23-28 November 2015. Deadline for application: 30 October 2015.

Workshop “Victims in Europe – Needs, Rights, Perspectives”

University of Luxembourg, 16 November 2015.

Colloquium “The Environment in Court – Environmental Protection in National and International Courts, Tribunals, and Compliance Mechanisms”

PluriCourts, University of Oslo, 20-25 June 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 15 January 2016.

“The winter is approaching” – Juncker and his state of the union address – has it said enough regarding the refugee crisis?

By Kanad Bagchi

With each passing day scores of lives are either ended by bodies being washed ashore or are lost in the faceless congregation of ‘refugees/migrants’ on the peripheries of Europe and beyond. Both the ‘European family’ and the ‘European Fabric’ has laid itself bare in the face of the uncontainable refugee crisis brewing in the heart of Europe, uncovering the stark divide between the East and the West. Amidst the melancholy that has reached the shores of Europe, it is vital to take pause and query whether the present catastrophe could have been contained and what steps are being taken by the European Union (hereinafter referred to as “EU”) towards this end. In this regard, Juncker’s State of the Union address 2015 (hereinafter referred to as “Union address”/ “Address”) comes at an auspicious time and has been met with pensive eagerness. The Union address rightly devotes significant attention towards the refugee crisis and has proposed a slew of measures, both immediate and long term, to alleviate the present situation. This post looks through these developments and assesses whether the measures adopted thus far and proposed for the immediate future are sufficient to improve the current circumstances and prepare the EU and its member states (hereinafter referred to as “MS”) to effectively deal with the continuing crisis.

Continue reading

The seal product cases: the ECJ’s silence on admissibility in Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami II

By Jasper Krommendijk

Last week, the ECJ delivered its judgment in Case C-398/13 P, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami II, which deals with the EU ban on trade in seals products. This judgment is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, the absence of any consideration of the admissibility question, more specifically the fulfilment of the locus standi requirements. Secondly, the relationship between, on the one hand, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the ECJ and, on the other hand, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its court, the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR). This post will examine these two issues after a discussion of the background to the so-called “Inuit Saga” and the eventual ECJ judgment which came about after more than five years of litigation in two different episodes.

Continue reading

Gay Blood: Bad Blood? A Brief Analysis of the Léger case [2015] C-528/13

By Uladzislau Belavusau and Ivana Isailović

straight bloodIn April 2015, the EU Court of Justice delivered its judgment in Léger v. Ministre des Affaires sociales, de la Santé et des Droits des femmes; Etablissement français du sang. The case addressed the compatibility of national measures – here the French 2009 Ministerial Decree – permanently banning blood donations by men who had or have sexual relations with other men (further ‘MSM’) with EU law. The Court found that these health policies could be justified in some circumstances, in light of the specific context prevailing in the Member State and the scientific knowledge and techniques available for detecting HIV in the early stages of contamination.

This judgment triggers a myriad of socio-legal questions pertaining to the EU multi-level health governance, including the rising area of sexual risk regulation, as well as questions regarding EU sexual citizenship, and more particularly the discrimination of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) individuals. The case, moreover, sheds light on the role scientific expertise plays in domestic and supranational courts, and the interplay between legal discourse, scientific knowledge, rights and identity politics. In this blog post, we offer a brief outline of the Court’s decision and highlight some of its controversial legal and normative aspects. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: August 2015

Workshop: “International Law and Domestic Law-Making Processes”

University of Basel, 4 September 2015. Deadline for registration: 24 August 2015.

Workshop “Safety and Liability Rules in European Ski Areas”

University of Trento, 11-12 December 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions: 15 September 2015.

Conference “Constitutional History: Comparative Perspectives”

University of Illinois, 12-13 April 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 1 November 2015.

Are Remedies for Breaching Standard Essential Patents Prohibited by Article 102 TFEU?

By Sam Abboud

In Case C-170/13 Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd v ZTE Corp & ZTE Deutschland GmbH, (Judgment of the 5th Chamber, CJEU, 16 July 2015)the CJEU was asked to rule for the first time on whether seeking an injunction and other associated remedies by the owner of a Standard Essential Patent (SEP) against a company in breach of the patent (but one willing to become a licensee) can amount to an abuse of a dominant position in breach of EU competition law (Article 102 TFEU). It concluded that an injunction or an action to recall products can amount to an abuse of dominance in certain circumstances.

 In this post, I first provide a primer on Standards and Standard Essential Patents (‘SEPs’) before summarizing the Court’s reasoning and setting out some initial observations on the judgment’s significance.

Continue reading

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.