Case 120/78 Cassis de Dijon [1979]

Facts

  • A german liquor importer was refused permission to import ‘cassis de dijon’ liquor into Germany from France, as ‘cassis de dijon’ would violate German law requiring fruit liquors to contain a minimum alcohol volume of 25%

Issue

  • Did this refusal breach Art 34 TFEU?

Decision

  • Yes

Reasoning

  • Art 34 TFEU provides that:

    “Quantitative restrictions on imports and all measures having equivalent effect shall be prohibited
    between Member States.”

  • The Court of Justice found that under the principle of mutual recognition, a product lawfully marketable in one Member State (France) should be freely marketable in another Member State (Germany)
  • Having enacted a measure within the scope of Article 34 TFEU, the Court of Justice found that such a measure could no longer be justified only under Article 36 TFEU (an exhaustive list of grounds)
  • However, the Court of Justice introduced the concept of ‘overriding reasons of public interest’ (ORPIs) – grounds of justification to act in addition to the Art 36 grounds. The court introduced several in this case: “necessary in order to satisfy mandatory requirements relating in particular to the effectiveness of fiscal supervision, the protection of public health, the fairness of commercial transactions and the defence of the consumer.” ORPIs may only be used where Art 34 measures have a non-discriminatory effect, equally applying to both domestic and foreign products.
  • Since this case, the list of ORPIs has grown
RELATED CASE  Case C-58/08 (Vodafone) [2010]

Posted in EU Law Revision Notes.

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