Thursday, September 02, 2010

This Week in Luxembourg

Among the first new judgements after the summer vacation are the following:

In Commission v. Scott, the First Chamber sided with the Commission and overruled the General Court's ruling. The case concerned a French state aid problem, where the City of Orléans had sold a piece of land below cost as a location for a factory. The Commission found this aid unlawful, but the CFI disagreed with the method used to calculate the true value of the land. The ECJ now disagrees and - more importantly - it holds that the CFI exceeded its jurisdiction by substituting its assessment of the facts for the Commission's to the extent that it did. The case is referred back to the General Court.

In a second appeal, the Commission did not get its way. In its decision 2002/753, the Commission found that the compensation given to Deutsche Post for its universal service obligation was too high. Thge CFI, applying Altmark, found that the Commission had failed to take into account the costs associated with DP's USO, and annulled. The ECJ now finds that the CFI correctly applied the Court's case law; in this case the CFI did not exceed its jurisdiction.Commission v. Deutsche Post.

After having delivered his opinion in the Deutsche Telekom appeal in April, AG Mazák now published his opinion in a similar case coming from Sweden. In this case, it is TeliaSonera who are being accused of applying a margin squeeze. The AG's answers to the 10 (!) questions posed by the Swedish court are in line with his earlier assessment, as they would be given that the ECJ is yet to rule in Deutsche Telekom. In other words, he proposes that TeliaSonera should lose. I have a draft paper on SSRN with some further background on this issue. Konkurrensverket v. TeliaSonera AB.

Is Germany entitled to give free legal aid to legal persons only if there is a "public interest"? AG Mengozzi concludes that, while there is no general principle making this unlawful, it might be depending on the circumstances, etc.. This is an EU law matter because of Directive 2003/8, which establishes minimum common rules relating to legal aid in cross-border disputes. It is left as an exercise for the reader to see whether the dispute at issue here is actually cross-border, and whether anyone has considered that question. DEB Deutsche Energiehandels- und Beratungsgesellschaft (NL, DE,FR)

AG Bot, finally, considers an appeal against an order by the CFI finding the action moot, since the Commission had withdrawn the contested decision, replacing it with this one. (Full history: CFI order 1, ECJ ruling, CFI order.) The AG concludes that a decision declining to act may not be revoked following a ruling condemning the Commission for failure to act, since such a revocation would allow the Commission to persist in its inaction. The case concerns alleged state aid in the Greek casino privatisation mess. Athinaïki Techniki v. Commission.

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