Thursday, June 27, 2013

This Week and Last Week in Luxembourg

The Grand Chamber (Judge Juhász) reaffirmed that in competition law the actual facts on the ground are all that matter, regardless of anyone’s intentions. In this case, both the lawyers and the Austrian Kartellgericht said that the cartel in question was permitted, but that does not prevent the Austrian authorities from fining them anyway 15 years later. Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde and Bundeskartellanwalt v. Schenker et al. Cf. European Law Blog

The Grand Chamber (Judge Ó Caoimh) also gave the Czech Republic a € 250.000 lump sum fine for failure to comply with an – otherwise boring – infringement judgment. Commission v. Czech Republic

Guillermo Cañas’s attempt to marshal the forces of EU competition law against the world anti-doping agency WADA and against the ATP failed before the Court of Justice (Judge Bay Larsen) as it had before the Commission and the General Court. The problem continues to be that the applicant, having retired, no longer has an interest in fact in the dispute. Cañas v. Commission (FR)

In Impacto Azul Lda v. BPSA 9 et al., the Court (Judge Lõhmus) held that art. 49 TFEU allows national legislation that “excludes the application of the principle of the joint and several liability of parent companies vis-à-vis the creditors of their subsidiaries to parent companies having their seat in the territory of another Member State”, because the parent can easily contract around this.

The Court (Judge Rosas) agreed with AG Mengozzi that Luxembourg had discriminated impermissibly against foreign students in its system for financial aid. However, the way it got there was quite different. Giersch et al. v. Luxembourg Cf. Eutopia Law blog

Now that all the easy cases on mutual recognition of professional qualifications are dealt with, it’s time to move on to more difficult situations. In Nasiopoulos v. Ipourgos Igias kai Pronoias we have a German-trained Greek medical masseur-hydrotherapist (‘Masseur und medizinischer Bademeister’) who wants to work as a physiotherapist in Greece. While the Court (Judge Levits) agrees that that is a bit of a stretch, it thinks he should at least be allowed to practice that part of the profession that he is actually qualified for.

In the joined cases VG Wort v. Kyocera et al. and Fujitsu and HP v. VG Wort, the Court (Judge Malenovský) gave some guidance on art. 5(2)(b) and 6 of Directive 2001/29, the copyrights directive. As it turns out, printer manufacturers can be sued for some of the total “fair compensation” owed for all those naughty internet users printing off books in their attics, but not all of it.

The Court (Judge Jarašiūnas) signed off on a Maltese excise duty on mobile telephone use, concluding that neither art. 12 nor art. 13 of the Authorisation Directive applied to such a “consumption tax”. Vodafone Malta et al. v. Avukat Ġenerali et al.

AG Jääskinen, quoting pre-Supreme Court Louis Brandeis, argued that there is no general “right to be forgotten” under existing EU data protection law. The defendants wanted an allegedly incorrect search result deleted from Google. Google v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja González Cf. UK Human Rights Blog and European Law Blog

AG Mengozzi has a state aid case in national court, where Deutsche Lufthansa complained about alleged state aid from Frankfurt-Hahn airport to Ryanair. As a result of this litigation, the Commission decided to get interested, with the result that the standstill clause of art. 108(3) TFEU came into effect. Given that the German court doesn’t necessarily agree that there is unlawful state aid here – the case was initially rejected by the Landgericht – the question is what the distribution of responsibilities and obligations is between the Commission, the national court and, potentially, the ECJ. Deutsche Lufthansa v. Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn (NL, DE, FR)

For whatever reason, they let AG Kokott near one of those classic legal basis & common commercial policy cases. (Cf. my LL.M. thesis, long ago, here.) The case is about this Council of Europe convention. The Commission wants the EU to ratify it based on the normal rules of the common commercial policy under art. 207 TFEU, while the Council prefers a mixed agreement based on art. 114 TFEU. Curiously, the AG argues – correctly – that art. 3(2) TFEU codifies the ERTA doctrine, but then uses that to conclude that the EU’s competence in this area is not only exclusive, but also based on art. 207 TFEU. Commission v. Council

The General Court rejected two action for annulment in the Aluminium Fluoride cartel case. Most creatively, one of the applicants – ICF from Tunisia – tried to plead art. 36 of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement between the EU and Tunisia from 1998 as a grounds of invalidity. Unsurprisingly, the Court did not go for that one. ICF v. Commission (FR) and Fluorsid SpA and Minmet Financing v. Commission

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