Thursday, March 03, 2011

This Week in Luxembourg

In conclusive evidence that the world has gone mad, the Grand Chamber only needed 7 pages to agree with AG Kokott that charging men and women different insurance premiums is unlawful gender discrimination under Directive 2004/113. In their defense, art. 5(1) of the Directive does actually suggest that (as does recital 18), but there would seem to be an opt-out possibility in art. 5(2). The Court now holds that an indefinite exemption would be cheating (par. 32-33), so it decided that until the end of next year is long enough (par. 34). Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats

The First Chamber ruled on the French system for (complementary) health insurance in light of the EU's competition laws, including the law on Services of General Interest. Despite the fact that it involves employers being obligated to buy such insurance from what may well be considered a private company, it finds the system in conformity with the Treaties. Given precedents such as Albany (1999), that makes sense. AG2R Prévoyance v. Beaudout

The Third Chamber shared the concerns of the Commission about the vagueness of Belgium's transposition of art. 31 of Directive 2002/22, the Universal Service Directive, which deals with "must carry" obligations for cable companies. Commission v. Belgium

Here's one in the category "fun with access to documents law". The Commission lost a merger control case in the MyTravel/Airtours merger, case T-342/99. Afterwards, the Commission put together a working group to sort out the implications of that ruling. MyTravel asked for access to the documents of that WG, was denied, and won in part before the General Court, case T-403/05. Now Sweden (who else) appeals, because they want MyTravel to have access to the rest as well. In light of subsequent case law (API, Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau), AG Kokott says they should win. Sweden v. Commission

In the General Court, Siemens saw a € 396m cartel fine upheld in its entirety: Siemens v. Commission (DE, FR). However, in the other cases stemming from that same cartel (in the market for gas insulated switchgear projects), a number of other applicants did see their fines reduced: Siemens AG Austria et al. v. Commission (par. 65-72) and Areva and Alstom v. Commission

P.S. The archive of these emails is here.

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