Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami et al v. European Parliament opinion of Advocate General Kokott, 17 January 2013, read opinion, on appeal from the General Court read judgment & my post on it
The EU makes a rule. When can the ordinary person affected seek annulment of the rule on the basis that it is unlawful? This is the big issue tussled with in this important and informative Advocate General’s opinion. You might have thought that if the basic ground for challenge was unlawfulness (and that is a high hurdle in itself), then as long as you were in some way affected by the decision, then you should be able to complain about the decision. That is broadly how we do things here in our UK system of judicial review.
But when you get to the EU Courts very different rules of engagement apply – far fewer people can complain about the illegality directly.
One of the stranger and bolder pieces of US legislation slipped into force in November 2012 – The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011 - sic. This enables the US Secretary of Transportation to prohibit US airlines from complying with EU rules. Those EU rules apply to all airliners which touch down or take off in the EU, and requires them to participate in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme – designed progressively to limit carbon emissions from aviation via a cap and trade mechanism.
The US Act would be odd enough in its lack of respect for the laws of other countries, had the Act’s beneficiaries (the US airlines) not sought to challenge the legality of the EU measure in the EU Courts – and failed: see my post on the judgment of the CJEU. As will be seen, the EU Court expressly rejected claims (by US airlines) that the rules had extra-territorial effect and conflicted with international aviation conventions. Hence, the scheme was lawfully applicable to US airlines – just as to those of all other countries using EU airports.
In a recent post I mentioned that there has been criticism of the scope of the EU Aarhus Regulation inserting provisions about transparency, public participation and access to justice into EU processes themselves. It struck me just how confusing the whole area of EU challenges to EU measures is, so I thought I would summarise it as best I can in this and a following post. Here goes; the going may get a bit bumpy, but it is important stuff. I hope also to give some EU context to the debate about whether something is or is not a legislative act under Aarhus which I trailed in that post.
The EU signed up to the Aarhus Convention on environmental matters, as have all the member states. And the EU has made member states implement Aarhus-compliant procedures in major areas such as environmental impact assessment and industrial emissions, via the 2003 Public Participation Directive. The EU also requires member states to introduce a wide-ranging right to environmental information, transposed in the UK via the Environmental Information Regulations. The European Court has also chipped in with its own Aarhus gloss in the Slovakian Bear case; whenever a member state is considering some provision of EU environmental law, it must interpret that provision, if possible, so that it complies with Aarhus standards of public participation, even though those standards may be in the parts of the Aarhus Convention which have not received their own direct transposition into EU, let alone domestic, law.
Preliminary reference in the case of Łukasz Marcin Bonda - Case C-489/10 - read judgment
Fraud is wrong, right? In most countries with more or less sophisticated criminal codes, it is an offence to obtain money by false representations, just as it is to thump an old lady over her head and grab her handbag.
In law, these two somewhat disparate actions add up to the same thing: theft, punishable by fines or imprisonment. It is not sufficient, in the latter case to return the poor old party’s handbag, even with the wallet intact. There has to be something more to discourage privateering of this sort. Punitive measures usually follow restitution in such cases. So why is Luxembourg telling us that theft in the form of subsidy fraud is an administrative matter, not a criminal one? And if it isn’t criminal, why don’t we all do it (those of us with sufficient agricultural land to qualify, that is)
This was a reference from the national court to the Court of European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary reference in relation to criminal proceedings against Mr Bonda for fraud in his declaration of the agricultural area eligible for the single area payment. Continue reading
Vinkov v Nachalnik Administrativno-nakazatelna deynost, Case C-27/11 – read judgment
Buried in the somewhat obscure details of this reference for a preliminary ruling is a hint of how the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is approaching arguments based on human rights principles as reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’). Put briefly, there has to be a very clear involvement of EU law before a case can be made out under any of its human rights provisions or principles.
The Bulgarian Court of Appeal referred to the CJEU a question for a preliminary ruling arising out of a dispute over penalty points which triggered automatic disqualification from driving under Bulgarian law. Continue reading