Summaries of judgments: RT France v Council (T-125/22)

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judges and référendaire of the General Court (Maria José Costeira, Ricardo Silva Passos and Esperança Mealha)
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Judgment of the General Court (Grand Chamber), 27 July 2022

Case T-125/22[1] RT France v Council

Common foreign and security policy — Restrictive measures adopted in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine — Temporary prohibition of dissemination and suspension of authorisations for the dissemination of certain media content — Inclusion on the list of entities to which the restrictive measures apply — Competence of the Council — Rights of the defence — Right to be heard — Freedom of expression and information — Proportionality — Freedom to conduct a business — Principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality

1. Facts

Following the military attack perpetrated by Russia against Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted, on 1 March 2022, new restrictive measures against Russia, namely Decision 2022/351[2] and Regulation 2022/350[3].

The purpose of those acts is the temporary prohibition of actions for propaganda of that military assault by means of certain media under Russian control. Thus, any operator established in the European Union is prohibited from broadcasting content produced by legal persons, entities or bodies set out in the annexes to the abovementioned acts.

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Summaries of judgments: Ryanair DAC/Commission (T-388/20)

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judges and référendaire of the General Court (Maria José Costeira, Ricardo Silva Passos and Esperança Mealha)
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Judgment of the General Court of 14 April 2021 (Tenth Chamber) Case T‑388/20 Ryanair DAC v Commission

State Aid – Aid granted by Finland to Finnair in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – Decision not to raise any objections- Compatibility with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU – Measure intended to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State – Equal treatment – Freedom of establishment – Freedom to provide services – Duty to state reasons

1. Facts

On 13 May 2020, Finland notified the Commission of an aid measure in the form of a State guarantee in favour of the Finnish airline, Finnair, aimed at helping the latter obtain a loan of €600 million from a pension fund to cover its working capital needs. The guarantee, which was supposed to cover 90% of that loan, was limited to a maximum duration of three years.

Referring to its communication on the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Commission classified the guarantee granted to Finnair as State aid which is compatible with the internal market in accordance with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU. Under that provision, aid intended to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State may, under certain circumstances, be considered to be compatible with the internal market.

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Summaries of judgments: Ryanair DAC/Commission (T-259/20)

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judges and référendaire of the General Court (Maria José Costeira, Ricardo Silva Passos and Esperança Mealha)
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Judgment from General Court (Tenth Chamber, Extended Composition) of 17 February 2021, T – 259/20, Ryanair DAC/Commission

State aid – French air transport market – Deferral of payment of civil aviation tax and solidarity tax on airline tickets due on a monthly basis during the period from March to December 2020 in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic – Decision not to raise any objections – Aid intended to make good the damage caused by an exceptional occurrence – Free provision of services – Equal treatment – Criterion of holding a license issued by the French authorities – Proportionality – Article 107(2)(b) TFEU – Duty to state reasons

1. Facts

On 24 March 2020, French Republic notified the Commission of an aid scheme in the form of a deferral of the payment of civil aviation tax and solidarity tax on airline tickets due on a monthly basis during the period from March to December 2020, accordingly with Article 108(3) TFUE. This aid is designed to guarantee that the airlines holding an operating license issued in France are able to maintain sufficient liquidity until the restrictions, prohibitions on movement are lifted, and normal commercial activity is resumed. With this measure, the French Republic differs the referred tax payment until the 1 January 2021 and then spreads payments over a period of 24 months, until 31 December 2022.

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Summaries of judgments: Lietuvos geležinkeliai AB v. Commission

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judges and référendaire of the General Court (Maria José Costeira, Ricardo Silva Passos and Esperança Mealha)
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Judgment from General Court (First Chamber Extended Composition) of 18 November 2020, T-814/17, Lietuvos geležinkeliai AB v. Commission

Competition – Abuse of a dominant position – Rail freight market – Decision finding an infringement of Article 102 TFEU – Access by third-party undertakings to infrastructure managed by Lithuania’s national railway company – Removal of a section of railway track – Concept of “abuse” – Actual or likely exclusion of a competitor – Calculation of the amount of the fine – 2006 Guidelines on the method for setting fines – Remedies – Proportionality – Unlimited jurisdiction

Facts

Lietuvos geležinkeliai AB (LG) is a Lithuanian national railway company responsible for the management of the Lithuanian railway and provides rail transport services for freight and passengers. The Lithuanian undertaking Orlen Lietuva AB (Orlen) is specialized in refining crude oil and distributing refine oil products. Both had since 1999 an agreement according to which LG provided to the last undertaking transport services on the Lithuanian rail network, more precisely on the shorter route to Latvia. However, in 2008, following a commercial dispute between both undertakings regarding the rates paid by Orlen to LG for its transport services, Orlen explored the possibility of contracting the undertaking LDZ for rail transport services of its freight to Latvia.

In September 2008, LG suspended the traffic on a 19km long section of the shorter route to Latvia after identifying a defect in the rail track and later, in October 2008, LG proceeded with the complete removal of the entire track.

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