Thursday, September 15, 2011

This Week in Luxembourg

The most important news this week is that my beloved Grolsch was acquitted – I suppose we can say – of involvement in the Dutch beer cartel (NL). The General Court found the Commission’s evidence wanting. Grolsch v. Commission (NL, DE, FR)

This week, the Grand Chamber handed down its age discrimination for pilots judgement. In Prigge et al. v. Deutsche Lufthansa, it found that mandatory retirement at 60 is not proportionate to the aim pursued, thus violating art. 4(1) of Directive 2000/78, nor is airway safety a “legitimate aim” in the sense of art. 6(1) of that Directive.

In the electricity sector, the Commission lost a fascinatingly complex infringement case against Slovakia. The Commission had alleged that Slovakia had failed to fulfil its obligations under Directive 2003/54 on the internal market for electricity by keeping in place a private law contract between its state electricity company and a Swiss company that predated accession, giving the Swiss preferential access to part of the network. Like the AG, the Court concluded that the contract – and the 1990 treaty on which it was based – should be protected under art. 307 EC. Commission v. Slovakia

Germany appealed the judgement of the General Court upholding the decision of the Commission that the rollout of digital TV in Berlin-Brandenburg involved unlawful state aid. Unfortunately, at least for Germany, the 6th Chamber agreed with all those before it. A quick glance suggests that the main problem was whether the aid in question distorted the market unreasonably. Germany v. Commission (DE, FR)

In the Spanish case of Gueye, the ECJ held that an automatic injunction requiring a convicted criminal to stay away from the victim is consistent with Framework Decision 2001/220 even when the victim opposes it. Likewise, Spain is permitted to rule out mediation regarding certain kinds of criminal offenses committed within the family.

Let’s take a moment to consider holding no. 1 in Dickinger and Ömer: "European Union law, in particular Article 49 EC, precludes the imposition of criminal penalties for infringing a monopoly of operating games of chance, such as the monopoly of operating online casino games laid down by the national legislation at issue in the main proceedings, if such legislation is not compatible with European Union law." Say what? Anyway, otherwise it is a fairly straightforward online gambling case.

As one might expect, when art. 16(1) of Directive 2004/38 (the free movement directive) talks about lawful residence, the law in question is not only EU law. At least, that is the conclusion of AG Bot in Ziolkowski et al. v. Berlin (NL, DE, FR). Residence prior to the home country’s accession also counts, as does any other residence that is lawful under the law of the host nation.

AG Mazák ponders how you can tell whether goods being imported from ACP countries are actually Chinese. There are limits to OLAF’s powers of investigation, at least outside the Union Territory. Also watch out for some legitimate expectations creativity. Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Hafen v. Afasia Knits Deutschland GmbH

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

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