Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Week in Luxembourg

There are only three judgements and two opinions this week, and the following seemed interesting to me:

This week's Grand Chamber judgement concerned an interesting access to documents problem. A public interest group, supported (of course) by Sweden, want access to the Commission's pleadings in a series of cases, including some that were still pending. (Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau was about the dossier, not the pleadings.) At what stage does the exception for court proceedings (art. 4(2)) no longer apply? The CFI said it applied until after the hearings, after which a specific examination of each document would have to be made. The ECJ now draws the line at the conclusion of the litigation. Sweden and API v. Commission

AG Jääskinen has an opinion in Alcoa Trasformazioni v. Commission, a state aid case where the applicant is complaining not (yet) about the decision finding certain aid incompatible, but rather the Commission's decision to initiate the formal investigation procedure (art. 108(2) TFEU). There is a question whether the (possibly) offending aid is new aid or an extension of existing aid, and whether that matters. In the end the AG agrees with the CFI that the aid in question is sufficiently "new" for the Commission to have acted correctly. The Italians lose.

Finally, there is an opinion about my old "baby", the Aarhus Convention. In the Netherlands, a number of NGOs asked for access to all the documents regarding the decision to set the Maximum Residu Limit of propamocarb on and in lettuce as it was set. The Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (one of the Netherlands' four supreme courts) is now wondering whether this is "environmental information", and, if so, how Directive 2003/4 applies to this situation. AG Kokott answers "yes" to the first question, while rejecting the possibility of a blanket denial under "commercial secrets". Stichting Natuur en Milieu (NL, DE, FR)

The archive of these emails is here.

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