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Case 261/81 Walter Rau Lebensmittelwerke v De Smedt PVBA [1982]

Facts

  • A Belgian law required all margarine to be sold in cubic packaging, unlike butter, which did not need to satisfy this product requirement

Issue

  • Did this law violate Art 34 TFEU preventing restrictions on the free movement of goods between EU Member States?

Decision

  • Yes

Reasoning

  • Foreign suppliers would be burdened to adapt their products for sale in Belgium, constituting an unlawful restriction
  • As a non-discriminatory restriction (applying to both domestic and foreign margarine suppliers equally), the measure could be justifiable under either Art 36 TFEU or a Court of Justice ORPI. The only relevant justification was the ORPI of consumer protection. The law could not be justified as it was not proportionate to the aim of preventing confusion between margarine and butter
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