Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Week in Luxembourg

ECJ judgements:

As was to be expected, the ECJ found the British treatment of the spouses of people on the terrorism list to be a bit harsh. The UK may not treat the live-in spouses of alleged terrorists as if they, themselves, were on the list, just because they might use their social security benefits to buy groceries for the household. M v. HM Treasury. The BBC story is here and the original House of Lords ruling is here.

The Third Chamber gave a rare ruling interpreting the trade laws established under the Yaoundé and Lomé Conventions in Camar, a case concerning Somalian bananas being imported into Italy. The Somalians lose: the import tax is not unlawful, and Italy is allowed to adjust it for inflation without violating the standstill clause.

In Commission v. Netherlands, the Netherlands was - again - judged to have violated the EEC-Turkey Association Agreement, this time because they maintained discriminatory fees for residence permits.

In Solgar, the Third Chamber discussed Directive 2002/46 on Food Supplements, including the intriguing possibility that a Member State might want to set the maximum amount for certain supplements at zero. (Which is what France had done with fluoride in this case.) The Court concluded that the MS retain the competence to legislate in such matters, as long as they jump through all the hoops established by the Directive (scientific risk assessment, etc.).

General Court judgements:

In the General Court, there was a series of challenges this week to the Commisison's cartel decision C(2005) 3452, regarding the market for industrial threads. (Summary, Press Release). In Amann & Söhne, in Gütermann and in Oxley, the decision was upheld, whereas in BST the fine was reduced from € 979.000 to € 856.600, since the Commission did not accurately take into account BST's cooperation. (They received 20% under the Leniency Notice of 1996, and the Court now increases that discount to 30%.)


In Akzo Nobel, AG Kokott considered the scope of the legal professional privilige in the context of a Competition Law investigation. The Commission had seized certain documents (emails between the general manager of a subsidiary and an Akzo in-house lawyer) which Akzo argued were covered by privilige. The General Court had dismissed that claim as unfounded, and Akzo appealed. Relying on the 1982 case of A M & S, the AG concluded that the GC ruling was correct. He was also unconvinced that the privilige should be extended relative to the current law. Akzo & Akcros v. Commission.

In Rosenbladt, AG Trstenjak discussed whether the "social partners" are allowed to set a mandatory retirement age in a collective bargaining agreement, or whether that would constitute age discrimination contrary to Directive 2000/78. She concludes that it is allowed, as long as there is a sufficient basis in the law, etc., etc. (NL, FR, DE)

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