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European Court of Justice

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European Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice ensures the uniform interpretation and application of EU law in all member countries. It also settles legal disputes between the governments of the member states and EU institutions. Individuals, companies and organizations may refer a case to the Court if they consider that their rights have not been upheld by an EU institution

Each EU member State, indicates a representative judge to the Court. In order to function in the most accurate way, 9 general advocates, express their legal opinion concerning all the cases in the Court’s docket. They are obliged to do so, in public and in total impartiality and independence. Both of their terms in office are 6 years long and can be reviewed.

It is easily understood that the Court’s docket is of exceedingly large. Therefore, and in order to maximize every European’s citizen rights to judicial protection and fair trial, the General Court has been formulated and deals with cases submitted to by  individuals, companies and some organizations, and cases relating to european competition law.

The cases that can be brought before the European Court of Justice are the following:

  • Requests for preliminary rulings – when national courts address  the Court to interpret a point of EU legislation
  • Infringement actions – when national governments fail to apply European law. due to non-application of EU law
  • Actions that indicate failure by EU institutions that do not take the necessary decisions
  • Direct actions by individuals, companies or organizations in decisions or actions of the EU


European Court of Justice: 

EUropa.S. 2017 Case review:

A French telecommunications’ company has been operating for many years in the French telecommunications’ market, firstly as a state company until its privatization. The French government remained a significant shareholder (49%) and the company continued to operate normally, till the appearance of a German competitive company, which, thanks to its attractive offers and packages, managed to be established on the French market, threatening the French company, which, and due to prior imprudent management, reached the brink of bankruptcy. The French government, in order to support it, granted the French company a loan with a fixed interest rate, long repayment time and a strictly defined restoration plan. Furthermore, the French Government’s decided to grant licenses of operation of telecommunication services to a total of only five companies, regardless of their origin, with specific criteria. Nonetheless, already many telecommunications companies of other Member States were operating or planning to expand their operation in the French market.

Finally the case appeared before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice, which has to answer to the following issues:

(a) Whether this loan falls under the term of “state aid” prohibited by Article 107 TFEU or not.

(b) Whether the “numerous clausus” of operators constitutes a violation of Article 56 TFEU on the freedom to provide services within the internal market.

(c) Whether the incorporation into the French law of the maximum harmonization directives relating to the protection of consumer rights and their “de facto” implementation, granted that the above generated system of only 5 telecom-operators led to the establishment of “cartel practices” resulted in the rise of the values in correspondence to the offered services.

ECJ Case & Study Guide EUropa.S.

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European Court of Justice


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