Thursday, March 04, 2010

Today in Luxembourg

In the curious Rottmann case, the Grand Chamber on Tuesday followed AG Maduro and ruled that Germany could take away mr. Rottmann's citizenship on the grounds that it was obtained through deception, even though this would leave him stateless, as long as doing so does not violate the principle of proportionality. Whether this means that Austria has to take him back is a different story, and one that is yet to be decided. Rottmann v Bayern.

The Grand Chamber also ruled that refugee status under Directive 2004/83 may be removed when the threat that gave rise to such status no longer exists, even if this threat has now been replaced by a new threat. The case concerned Iraqis who had flead the regime of Saddam Hussein. Under the current regime, they may still have legitimate grounds to fear persecution, but that is a matter that will have to be evaluated anew, based on the same standards of proof, etc., as when they were first awarded refugee status. Abdulla et al. v. Germany. (Cf. AG Mazák's opinion.)

The Fourth Chamber condemned Italy for the waste collection mess in Napels and the rest of Campania. Italy's failure to take adequate measures to ensure that the waste was recovered, etc., is an infringement of art. 4 and 5 of Directive 2006/12. Commission v. Italy.

In Chakroun, the Second Chamber gave some guidance on family reunification under Directive 2003/86. The Dutch government may not distinguish between family relations that arose before or after the sponsor came to the Netherlands in applying the income requirement, and it may not require that the sponsor's income also suffice to exclude him from the (extraordinary assistance) "minimabeleid".

In Commission v. Ireland, the latter was condemned for having legal minimum prices for tobacco products instead of the proportional tax required by Directive 95/59. Just to make things interesting, Ireland was also condemned for being insufficiently forthcoming with information in violation of art. 10 EC. In separate cases, the Third Chamber also condemned a similar policy maintained by Austria and France.

In the General Court, the Commission won two related pre-crisis German banking state aid cases, Bundesverband deutscher Banken v Commission (T-163/05) and Bundesverband deutscher Banken v Commission (T-36/06). Both cases concerned a transfer of public assets from the Land Hessen to the more or less public entity Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale (Helaba), which the Commission decided was mostly in order, since almost the entire deal was on terms that were similar to what the bank could have gotten from a private investor.

The Commission also won a non-contractual liability case regarding its decision - later anulled - banning the use of amfepramon in medicine for human use. Artegondan v. Commission (Dutch, French, German)

Also in the General Court, the French steelmaker Arcelor took on the Community's emissions trading scheme and lost. In order to get around its Plaumann problem, Arcelor argued the "higher rule" cases such as Piraiki-Piraiki, Sofrimportand UEAPME, but to no avail. As far as the claim for damages is concerned, the Court ruled that, whatever violations of the law may exist, they are not "sufficiently serious" to give rise to a claim for damages. Arcelor v. Parliament & Council.

AG Mengozzi now also joined the gambling fray. Following the line set out by the Court and by AG Bot, he also argues for the Member State's right to regulate the industry. Markus Stoß et. al v. Baden-Württenberg et al. (Dutch, German,French) and Carmen Media Group v. Schleswig-Holstein (Dutch, German, French) Last week, AG Bot delivered a new opinion in Sjöberg, which again defends the right of the MS to regulate this industry, while AG Mazák considered a gambling case, Engelmann, where he argued that some aspects of the Austrian regulatory regime for casinos went too far.

AG Sharpston authored an opinion discussing art. 12 of Directive 2004/83, as applied to a would-be Palestinian refugee in Hungary. Essentially, the question is whether the availability of UN refugee assistance in the country of origin precludes refugee status under the Directive. The AG argues that this is not the case, unless the refugee actually availed herself from such assistance. Bolbol.

Last week, a few issues came up that I already flagged before:

In the Brita case, the Court followed AG Bot and said that the MS are entitled to say that goods produced in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank are not Israeli for the purposes of the EC-Israel association agreement.

In the X Holding Case, the Second Chamber followed AG Kokott and signed off on the Dutch system whereby resident subsidiaries can be combined with the holding company to form a single tax entity, while non-resident subsidiaries cannot.

On Tuesday the Court ruled in two British free movement of workers cases, Ibrahim and Texeira, both of whichconcerned the limits of the notion of a "worker". In both cases, the plaintiff was allowed to stay in the UK.

Finally, the 4th Chamber ruled in Car Trim, a case on jurisdiction under the Brussels I Regulation. Like AG Mazák, the ECJ refused to let the fact that the relevant contract was quite specific as to "the provision, fabrication and delivery of the components to be produced" turn it into a services contract somehow. More problematically, the place of delivery can, in the court's estimation, still be the place where the goods were transferred to the first carrier, although the court expresses a preference for the place of final destination. (Assuming the contract doesn't say.)

No comments: