A new strategy for EU law enforcement

By Pedro Pereira (Master’s student in European Union Law at the School of Law of the University of Minho)

The European Commission is regarded as the “Guardian of the Treaties” in the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), and according to its most recent Communication last October 13, it plans to ensure its own role with both a helping hand and watchful eye, all while honouring democratic transparency and (especially) EU law.

The Communication “Enforcing EU law for a Europe that delivers”[1] draws on the fact that the EU is an established community of both law and values. It reminds us that the EU’s best asset is its ability to create a homogenous background for its citizens and businesses alike. EU law lays the foundation and groundwork for a well-functioning internal market, for a more digital and greener Europe, ensures and promotes European values, provides for effective judicial cooperation, security and ultimately succeeds in showing the world the bastion of justice, democracy, and respect for fundamental rights. And bearing the responsibility as the Guardian of the Treaties and EU law, in its own words: “The Commission is committed to stepping up its work to promote and uphold people’s rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

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“Brexit means Brexit” for the EU citizenship rights of British nationals – The Court of Justice conclusions in Préfet du Gers

By Joana Gama Gomes (Assistant Professor of European and International Law, University of Lisbon School of Law)

The United Kingdom (UK) officially withdrew from the European Union (EU) on February 1st, 2020, the date in which the Withdrawal Agreement (WA)[1] entered into force. As a result, and after the end of the transition period, all EU law stopped being applicable to and in the United Kingdom, including the provisions of EU law regarding the rights attached to EU citizenship.

EU citizenship is established in Article 9 TEU, which prescribes that “Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union”. In particular, in accordance with Articles 20 (2) (b) and 22 (1) TFEU, EU citizenship grants its citizens the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections in the Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State.

Continue reading ““Brexit means Brexit” for the EU citizenship rights of British nationals – The Court of Justice conclusions in Préfet du Gers”

Summaries of judgments: Openbaar Ministerie | BPC Lux 2 and Others

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judge and référendaire of the CJEU (Nuno Piçarra and Sophie Perez)

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Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 22 February 2022, X and Y v Openbaar Ministerie, Joined Cases C-562/21 PPU and C-563/21 PPU, EU:C:2022:100

Reference for a preliminary ruling – Urgent preliminary ruling procedure – Judicial cooperation in criminal matters – European arrest warrant – Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA – Article 1(3) – Surrender procedures between Member States – Conditions for execution – Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Second paragraph of Article 47 – Fundamental right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law – Systemic or generalised deficiencies – Two-step examination – Criteria for application – Obligation of the executing judicial authority to determine, specifically and precisely, whether there are substantial grounds for believing that the person in respect of whom a European arrest warrant has been issued, if surrendered, runs a real risk of breach of his or her fundamental right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law

Facts

Two European arrest warrants (‘EAWs’) were issued in April 2021 by Polish courts against two Polish nationals for the purposes, respectively, of executing a custodial sentence and of conducting a criminal prosecution. The persons concerned were in the Netherlands and did not consent to their surrender.

The Rechtbank Amsterdam (District Court, Amsterdam, Netherlands) noted that, since 2017, there have been in Poland systemic or generalised deficiencies affecting the right to a fair trial, and in particular the right to a tribunal previously established by law, resulting, inter alia, from the fact that Polish judges are appointed on application of the Krajowa Rada Sądownictwa (the Polish National Council of the Judiciary; ‘the KRS’). The referring court furthermore noted that, according to the resolution adopted in 2020 by the Sąd Najwyższy (Supreme Court, Poland), the KRS, since the entry into force of a law on judicial reform on 17 January 2018, is no longer an independent body. In so far as the judges appointed on application of the KRS may have participated in the criminal proceedings that led to the conviction of one of the persons concerned or may be called upon to hear the criminal case of the other person concerned, the referring court considered that there was a real risk that those persons, if surrendered, would suffer a breach of their fundamental right to a tribunal previously established by law.

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Can a judge’s request for a preliminary ruling be illegal and lead to disciplinary action? – The Court of Justice conclusions in case C-564/19

By Joana Gama Gomes (Master in International and European Law from the University of Coimbra / Researcher at CIDEEFF - Centro de Investigação em Direito Europeu, Económico, Financeiro e Fiscal)

The request for a preliminary ruling was submitted by a Hungarian court in criminal proceedings brought against a Swedish national, for infringement of the provisions of Hungarian law governing the acquisition or transport of firearms or ammunition. Although the facts of this case seem unrelated to the problem at hand, subsequent developments in Hungary during the course of this procedure raised a fundamental issue of EU law.

A declaration of illegality from the Hungarian Supreme Court and disciplinary proceeding against the referring judge led him to ask the Court two crucial questions – whether EU law precludes a national court of last instance from declaring as unlawful a decision by which a lower court makes a request for a preliminary ruling, and whether the principle of judicial independence precludes disciplinary proceedings being brought against a judge for having made such a request for a preliminary ruling.

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Case C-205/22, C.D.A. Direct application by the national courts of the European Commission reports issued under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism

Dragoș Călin [Judge at the Bucharest Court of Appeal, Co-President of the Romanian Judges' Forum Association, Director of the Judges' Forum Review (Revista Forumul Judecătorilor)]. 

Very recently, on March 10, 2022, the Alba Iulia Court of Appeal – Administrative and Fiscal Litigation Section ordered the referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union, based on art. 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, with a new preliminary ruling in close connection with the Rule of law (Case C-205/22, C.D.A.).

In fact, the Romanian court’s request tends to ascertain mainly whether, in the interpretation of the CJEU, the principle of judicial independence enshrined in the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU with reference to Article 2 TEU and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the principle of sincere cooperation, laid down in Article 4 TEU, preclude a national provision, such as that of Article 148(2) of the Romanian Constitution, as interpreted by the Romanian Constitutional Court, by Decision No 390/2021, according to which national courts cannot take account of the provisions of European Commission Decision 2006/928 and the recommendations made in the CVM Reports for the implementation of the benchmarks, on the ground that “national courts are not empowered to cooperate with a political institution of the European Union.”

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Summaries of judgments: Euro Box Promotion | Wiener Landesregierung and Others (Revocation of an assurance of naturalisation)

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judge and référendaire of the CJEU (Nuno Piçarra and Sophie Perez)

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Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 21 December 2021, Joined cases C‑357/19, C‑379/19, C‑547/19, C‑811/19 and C‑840/19, Euro Box Promotion e.a., EU:C:2021:1034

Reference for a preliminary ruling – Decision 2006/928/EC – Mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress in Romania to address specific benchmarks in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption – Legal nature and effects – Binding on Romania – Rule of law – Judicial independence – Second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU – Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Fight against corruption – Protection of the European Union’s financial interests – Article 325(1) TFEU – ‘PFI’ Convention – Criminal proceedings – Decisions of the Curtea Constituțională (Constitutional Court, Romania) concerning the legality of the taking of certain evidence and the composition of judicial panels in cases of serious corruption – Duty on national courts to give full effect to the decisions of the Curtea Constituțională (Constitutional Court) – Disciplinary liability of judges in case of non-compliance with such decisions – Power to disapply decisions of the Curtea Constituțională (Constitutional Court) that conflict with EU law – Principle of primacy of EU law 

Facts

The disputes in the main proceedings follow on from a wide-ranging reform in the field of justice and the fight against corruption in Romania, a reform which is at the origin of the judgment of 18 May 2021, Asociaţia ‘Forumul Judecătorilor din România’ and Others (C‑83/19, C‑127/19, C‑195/19, C‑291/19, C‑355/19 and C‑397/19, EU:C:2021:393) and has been monitored at EU level since 2007 under the cooperation and verification mechanism (‘the CVM’) established by Decision 2006/928.[1]

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Did the court of last resort apply the CJEU preliminary ruling correctly? In case of EU law breach, what to do in the absence of domestic remedy? – A first appraisal of the pending case F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Others

Cinzia Peraro  (Senior Researcher of European Union Law, University of Bergamo - Italy)
 

I. Background

The Italian administrative judge of last resort (Consiglio di Stato) submitted on 21 April 2021[1] a request for a preliminary ruling in the case F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and Others v Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (C-261/21).

This case falls within the long-running Avastin-Lucentis affair that concerns an agreement restricting competition concluded in breach of Article 101 TFEU between certain companies operating in the pharmaceutical sector. The Italian Antitrust Authority prohibited the continuation of the contested conduct and imposed administrative fines. The companies appealed against this measure before the administrative judge, who rejected them. Within the proceedings at second instance, the Council of State referred a number of preliminary questions of interpretation to the Court of Justice. After the preliminary ruling delivered on 23 January 2018 (C-179/16), the Italian administrative judge dismissed the appeals, thus upholding the decision at first instance and, accordingly, the contested measure. However, the parties asked the Council of State to revoke its appeal judgment, alleging, inter alia, a manifest breach of the principles of law affirmed by the Court of Justice in the previous preliminary ruling and asking to make a new referral to Luxembourg. The administrative judge thus suspended the proceedings and, for a second time, referred to the Court of Justice other three questions.

Continue reading “Did the court of last resort apply the CJEU preliminary ruling correctly? In case of EU law breach, what to do in the absence of domestic remedy? – A first appraisal of the pending case F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Others”