Thursday, June 14, 2012

This Week in Luxembourg

This week’s Grand Chamber judgement (the first GC case for the Dutch Judge Prechal) is about child benefits for migrant workers. Joined cases Hudziński v. Agentur für Arbeit Wesel – Familienkasse and Wawrzyniak v. Agentur für Arbeit Mönchengladbach – Familienkasse

The European judiciary continues to examine the effects of the Charter:
·         AG Cruz Villalón struggles with the ne bis in idem rule of art. 50. As a first alternative, and after careful discussion of the relevant arguments, he concludes that the prejudicial question is inadmissible, because the case in question does not involve Sweden implementing EU law in the sense of art. 51(1) Charter. In the alternative, he argues that a duplication of criminal and administrative penalties does not violate art. 50, which is reasonable enough. In any event, he wants nothing to do with the ECHR question. Åklagaren v. Fransson Cf. Verfassungsblog and Laurens Ankersmit on European Law Blog
P.S. Note fn 42, where one of my EUI-colleagues, Bas van Bockel, is cited by the AG.
 ·         AG Bot examines art. 15(6) of Directive 2010/13, about “short extracts” – i.e. clips of Europa Leauge matches for the news – in copyright law in light of art. 16 and 17 Charter and finds no reason to recommend annulment of the former. Sky Österreich v. Österreichischer Rundfunk Cf. Recent Developments in European Consumer Law blog
For competition law geeks: in the case of Auto 24 v. Jaguar Land Rover France, the Court (per Judge Ó Caoimh) gives guidance about art. 1(1)(f) of Commission Regulation 1400/2002 (block exemption motor vehicle sector). Specifically, the referring court wants to know what is meant by “specified criteria” in the definition of a selective distribution system. The Court reigns in the French: the criteria have to be verifiable, but they don’t have to be objectively justifiable, non-discriminatory, etc. Cf. Kartellblog

The Court (per Judge Cunha Rodrigues) sided with the Commission against the Netherlands on the “3 out of 6” rule for study grants (i.e. “studiefinanciering”) for immigrants. According to the Court, the rule is prima facie discriminatory, and less discriminatory means are available to ensure that the subsidy only goes to people with a sufficient degree of attachment to the Netherlands. Commission v. Netherlands

In Banco Español de Crédito v. Calderón, the Court (per Judge Tizzano), gives more guidance on the powers of national courts when it comes to unfair consumer contracts under Directive 93/13. Contrary to the law in Spain, the national court has to be allowed to make a finding of unfairness sua sponte at any stage during the proceedings. Moreover, the correct remedy is for the unfair term not to be binding on the consumer (cf. art. 6(1) of the Directive), not for the national court to modify it.

My beloved Aarhus Regulation – the actual EU-internal one that was the subject of the conciliation procedure back in 2006 – scored two more victories today. The General Court (per Judge Wiszniewska-Białecka, both times) upheld the right of the environmental lobby to ask the European Commission to review a Regulation on pesticides and one on ambient air quality, respectively. Stichting Natuur en Milieu v. Commission and Vereniging Milieudefensie v. Commission Cf. UK Human Rights Blog

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