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  • UNFAIR BUSINESS-TO-CONSUMER (B2C) COMMERCIAL PRACTICES

    C-265/12 Citroen Belux NV c Federatie voor Verzekerings – en Financiële Tussenpersonen (FvF), 18 July 2013

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Belgian legislation that provides for a general prohibition, except for some listed cases, of combined offers made to consumers where at least one of the components of those offers is a financial service is, in principle, compatible with European Union law.
    In the present case, the car manufacturer Citroën offered a 6 month free comprehensive insurance on the purchase of a Citroën car that the Belgian administration (FvF) considered to be illegal.
    The Belgian court who had to rule on the case sought a preliminary ruling from the ECJ. The latter was basically asked whether the Belgian legislation was compatible with Directive 2005/29 on unfair business to consumer practices and with article 56 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (TFEU) on the freedom to provide services.
    The ECJ ruled that the Directive does not set any limit as regards how stringent national rules may be and does not lay down any criteria regarding the degree of complexity or risk which commercial services must involve in order to be covered by more stringent rules.
    Moreover, according to the ECJ, the Directive does not exhaustively harmonise national  laws and therefore leaves Member States free to adopt their own laws as long as those laws do not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the high level of consumer protection intended by Directive 2005/29. According to the ECJ, the Belgian law at stake complies with this requirement since it provides for some listed cases where B2C services can be authorised.

  • FREEDOM TO PROVIDE SERVICES

    C-234/12 Sky Italia Srl c Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM), 18 July 2013

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the Italian rule on television advertising, which lays down lower hourly limits for advertising for pay-TV broadcasters than for free to-air TV broadcasters, is, in principle, compatible with European Union law.
    On 5 March 2013, between 9 and 10 p.m., the pay-TV station Sky Sport 1 broadcasted 24 television advertising spots, for an hourly percentage of 16.78% thereby exceeding the hourly television advertising limit of 14% imposed on pay-TV broadcasters by Italian legislation. The Italian Broadcasting Authority (AGCOM) thus imposed a fine on Sky Italia for infringement of national legislation on television advertising.
    The Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale per il Lazio asked the ECJ whether the Italian legislation was compatible with (i) EU Directive 2010/13 on Audiovisual Media Services, (ii) the fundamental freedom to provide services enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and (iii) the principles of equal treatment and freedom of expression.
    The ECJ first pointed out that Directive 2010/13 leaves some leeway to Member States to rule on the time of TV advertising granted to advertisers.  The ECJ then stated that Pay TV stations and free to-air TV broadcasters are not in a comparable situation since the former generate revenue from subscriptions taken out by viewers while the latter do not benefit from such a direct source of financing, and must finance themselves. Therefore, the ECJ stated that the Italian law did not infringe the principle of equal treatment.
    With regard to the freedom to provide services, the ECJ referred to established case law according to which the protection of consumers against abuses of advertising constitutes an overriding reason relating to the general interest which may justify restrictions on the freedom to provide services. The ECJ then said that it belongs to the national court to decide whether the Italian law at stake is proportionate in that regard.   
    Finally, with regard to the principle of freedom of expression, the ECJ considered that the question posed by the Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale per il Lazio had considerable gaps with regard to the information concerning the impact of the Italian law on competition law. Therefore, the ECJ considered that this question was not admissible.

    C-201/11 P, C-204/11 P and C-205/11 P UEFA and FIFA v Commission, 18 July 2013-07-24

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Member States’ administrative decisions listing all the matches in the final stage of the football World Cup and/or all the matches in the final stage of the EURO can be validly regarded as being of major importance for society under the terms of directive 89/552. Therefore, pay TV broadcasters can be validly precluded from purchasing the exclusive broadcasting rights of these events to UEFA and FIFA.
    Belgian and UK rules provide, respectively, that all the matches in the final stage of the World Cup and all the matches in the final stage of the World Cup and in the final stage of the EURO are regarded as being of major importance for society. Accordingly, this precludes pay-tv broadcasters from purchasing the exclusive broadcasting rights of those events. The European Commission (EC) issued a decision stating that these rules were compatible with EU law.
    FIFA and UEFA unsuccessfully challenged this EC’s decision before the EU Court of First Instance and thus filed an appeal before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
    The ECJ confirmed the CFI’s ruling insofar as it stated  that although the designation by a Member State of certain events as being of major importance for society and the consequent preclusion of their exclusive broadcasting constitute obstacles to the freedom to provide services, the freedom of establishment, the freedom of competition and the right to property, they are nevertheless justified by the objective of protecting the right to information and ensuring wide public access to television coverage of those events.

  • PHARMACEUTICALS

    T-301/12 Laboratoire CTRS c Commission, 4 July 2013

    The General Court (GC) has ruled that marketing authorisation (MA) for Orphacol, an orphan medicinal product, may be issued on the basis of well-established medicinal use dating back more than 10 years.
    The European Commission had rejected the MA demand of Laboratories CTRS, despite a Positive opinion of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
    The GC ruled that the well-established medicinal use of the active substance contained in Orphacol had been demonstrated by CTRS.
    The GC considered that due to certain exceptional circumstances within the meaning of EU law, CTRS only had to demonstrate that it was unable to provide comprehensive particulars on the efficacy and safety of the medicinal product concerned under normal conditions of use.
    The GC thus ruled that the European Commission was wrong to conclude in its decision that the data submitted by CTRS should have been comprehensive.

     
     
  • PRODUCT SAFETY

    T-198/12 R Germany v. European Commission (Order), 16 May 2013

    The new Directive on toys (2009/48/EC) adopted in 2009 lays down limit values for certain substances in toys, in particular for heavy metals.
    The European Commission authorised Germany, in accordance with the transitional rules of the Directive, to continue to apply its limit values for lead and barium in toys until 21 July 2013, but rejected the application in relation to antimony, arsenic and mercury.
    Germany brought an action for the annulment of that decision and also applied for an interlocutory order so as to be able to continue to apply its existing limit values until the General Court in the case has taken a final decision.
    By decision of 15 May 2013, the President of the General Court (GC) found that Germany had both demonstrated the actual and legal need for an interlocutory order to protect the health of children and had proven the urgency of such an order. Therefore, the President of the GC considered that the national provisions notified by Germany concerning limit values for antimony, arsenic, barium, lead and mercury in toys should be maintained pending the Court’s decision in the main proceedings.

    Belgian Royal Decree of 19 January 2011 on the safety of Toys

    Directive 2009/48/EC has been transposed into Belgian law by Royal Decree of 19 January 2011 on the safety of toys and by Royal Decree of 19 January 2011 regarding the recognition of bodies for conformity assessment on toys.
    The Royal Decree on the safety of toys provides for obligations resting on all economic operators (manufacturer, authorised representative, importer, distributor) according to their Respective roles in the economic chain.
    Thus, toys may only be put on the market if they satisfy essential safety requirements described in the Royal Decree, have CE marking, have clearly understandable and appropriate instructions for reducing risk during use and where there is an EC declaration of conformity.
    Two procedures are foreseen for the assessment of toys conformity before they are put on the market. The first one, self-certification, refers to internal production controls whereby the manufacturer fulfils the obligations laid down in Decision n°768/2008/EC Annex II Module A and ensures and declares on his sole responsibility that the products concerned satisfy the requirements of the legislative instruments that apply to them. The second one, EC-type examination, is conducted by a notified body which, according to Decision n°768/2008/EC Annex II Module B, examines the technical design of a product and verifies and attests that it meets the requirements of the legislative instruments that apply to it. This EC-type examination procedure only applies in four cases: where harmonised standards do not exist although their references were published in the Official Journal; where harmonised standards have not been or have been partly applied by the manufacturer; where harmonised standards have been published with a restriction; or where the manufacturer considers that the toy necessitates third party verification.
    The Royal Decree entered into force on 20 July 2011. Itrepealed the Royal Decree of 4 March 2002. However the “new” Royal Decree provided for a reservation according to which the chemical requirements listed in Section Chemistry of part II (Special risks) in annexe II of the Royal Decree of 4 March 2002 were applicable until 20 July 2013.



 

 

 

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