Thursday, July 12, 2012

This Week in Luxembourg involved some fun with a private law standards setting body carrying out what are essentially government duties. Conclusion: “Article 28 EC must be interpreted as meaning that it applies to standardisation and certification activities of a private-law body, where the national legislation considers the products certified by that body to be compliant with national law and that has the effect of restricting the marketing of products which are not certified by that body.” NEN-Norms, anybody? Cf. European Law Blog and

The Austrian company Compass-Datenbank tried to get access to the Austrian companies’ register by suing the government for abuse of dominance under art. 102 TFEU. The Court (per Judge Lenaerts), however, holds that in running the “Firmenbuch”, the Austrian government does not act as an undertaking. Compass-Datenbank v. Austria Cf. ECJBlog

Regarding the correct interpretation of art. 13 of Directive 2002/20, the telecoms Authorisation Directive, the Court sided with the mobile telephone operators against the Spanish local authorities. No fees may be imposed on operating undertakings which, without being proprietors of transmission facilities, use them to provide mobile telephony services. Joined cases Vodafone España v. Ayuntamiento de Santa Amalia, Vodafone España v. Ayuntamiento de Tudela and France Telecom v. Ayuntamiento de Torremayor

The Court (per Judge Malenovský) did its part to illustrate the need for a European patent court by ruling in a case where art. 6(1) of Regulation 44/2001 is applied in a patent dispute. Basically, the Belgian chemicals company Solvay is suing the Dutch and Belgian subsidiaries of its American competitor Honeywell in Dutch court for alleged violation of a patent in force in Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It turns out that, yes, this can all be handled in The Hague. Solvay v. Honeywell et al.

Unusually, the Commission was shot down in an infringement procedure against Germany this week. The Court (per Judge Ó Caoimh) did not agree that the German rules for care insurance violated art. 56 TFEU. This is an interesting case on the boundary between the free movement of services and the harmonisation – or lack thereof – of the rules on social security and health care. Commission v. Germany

Austria does not permit advertising for foreign casinos unless the countries that these casinos come from have an equivalent level of legal protection for gamblers that Austria does. While AG Mazák insisted that the advertising permit should depend on the protection offered by the casino, the Court (per Judge Toader) signed off on this approach. HIT and HIT Larix v. Bundesminister für Finanzen Cf. Recent Developments in European Consumer Law Blog, the IPKat and the European Law Blog

In more Court/AG disagreement, the Court (per Judge Cunha Rodrigues) also signed off on the Italian rules for the liability of legal persons in the course of criminal proceedings. Framework Decision 2001/220 did not intend to require that legal persons should be made liable to compensate the victims of their crimes, and in the case at bar the administrative offense with which Rete Ferroviaria Italiana is charged is not even the immediate cause of the harm suffered by the victims. Maurizio Giovanardi and Others

Cetarsa lost its competition law appeal in the Spanish raw tobacco cartel case. Then again, so did the Commission. So the reduced fine imposed by the General Court (FR) stays. Cetarsa v. Commission (FR) (per Judge Arabadjiev)

AG Jääskinen voluntarily touched the third rail of Belgian politics by suggesting that a Flemish rule that requires all employment contracts to be drafted exclusively in Dutch even if the job is international in nature violates EU law, specifically art. 45 TFEU. Las v. PSA Antwerp

According to the General Court (Judge Frimodt Nielsen), the Commission jumped the gun by declaring the aid given for the purposes of building a paper mill in Eisenhüttenstadt compatible with the Common Market. The formal investigation procedure should have been opened in order to assess the importance of the project for regional development. Curiously, the Commission already seems to have done so in 2010 (link). Smurfit Kappa v. Commission

In other State Aid news, the General Court (Judge Gratsias) rejected the appeal of a number of French broadcasters against a Commission Decision declaring the state subsidy for France Télévisions compatible with the Common Market. TF1 and others v. Commission

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