The Grand Chamber ruled in the French "question prioritaire de constitutionallité" case, i.e. the new French procedure (art. 61-1 Constitution and Title II Chapter IIbis of Ordonnance 58-1067) that allows French courts to ask a prejudicial question to the Conseil constitutionnel. The ECJ rules that such a procedure is not OK if it forces French courts to ask the domestic prejudicial question first. The fact that the French procedure comes with a strict deadline does not change that. (par. 56) Melki (FR). Cf. AdjudicatingEurope and last week's Elchinov opinion.
The third chamber found that Italy's system of minimum prices for tobacco products was in violation of art. 9(1) ofDirective 95/59 on taxes other than turnover taxes which affect the consumption of manufactured tobacco. Commission v. Italy (FR)
In Imperial Chemical Industries, the General Court examined the Commission's new competition decision, following the annulment of its earlier decision. This litigation started with a Commission Decision dated 19 December 1990, which was annulled by the CFI in case T-37/91 (29 June 1995) based on a procedural defect, a judgement that was upheld on appeal in case C-286/95 P (6 April 2000). The Commission then took a new decision (13 December 2000), which was anulled today as to the year 1983, and upheld for the remainder, meaning that the fine is now € 8 million instead of € 10 million. To be continued...
AG Cruz Villalón had two Belgian mobile telecom cases, where there were problems regarding the way the companies were compensated for their universal service obligation under Directive 2002/22. In Base et al. (NL, FR, DE) he concluded that the Belgians were not allowed to let the former monopolist do all the calculations regarding the "unfair burden" of art. 13 of the Directive, whereas in Commisison v. Belgium (NL, FR, DE) he argues that the rest of the Commission's arguments are not well founded.
AG Mengozzi concluded that the UK was wrong to complain about Council Decision 2008/633/JHA. It was - he argued - legitimately a Schengen matter rather than a visa matter, meaning that the UK could lawfully be excluded from direct access to the Visa Information System. UK v. Council.
Also of possible interest is the fine that the Commission imposed on 17 bathroom equipment manufacturers, the biggest since Commissioner Almunia took over from mrs. Kroes. The fine would have been higher, but here, too, the poor economy had its influence. Several companies had their fines reduced to avoid bankrupting them. Cf. BBC.