Category Archives: EU external relations

Breaches which interfere with EU external relations

    • Where MS’ conduct allegedly
      1. Violates international agreement binding on EU, or
      2. Otherwise violates obligation of sincere cooperation by jeopardising EU objectives in external relations field.
        • Open Skies case, 2002: Comm brought proceedings against MSs for having entered bilateral negotiations with US on air transport agreements
        • Comm v Sweden, 2010: ECJ held Sweden was in breach, by unilaterally proposing to list particular substance under Stockholm Convention before EU had time to propose its position, in area of shared competence – Dentist Airdrie 
  1. Systemic and persistent breaches or general practices
    • Where each breach itself is relatively minor, but is part of a pattern of inadequate implementation and compliance in practice.
    • Possible for disputed act to be an administrative act, but higher threshold to find breach here.
      • Practice has to be consistent and general
      • MS’ breach must be shown by ‘sufficiently documented and detailed proof of the alleged practice’ – different kind of proof compared to alleged breach by national legislation.
      • Comm v Ireland, 2005: ECJ held that general admin practice can be deduced from selected number of indiv infringements, allowing finding of ‘general and persistent breach’ against MS. Once Comm has shown sufficient evidence of indiv complaints/act, to show persistent and repeated practice of breach, it is for MS to challenge the evidence in detail and the other Dentist Airdrie case.
  1. Action by the courts of a MS
    • Failure by MS’ judiciary to comply with EU law has NEVER been basis of art 258 judgment – politically sensitive! But ECJ holds that MSs are responsible for (in)action by constitutionally independent organs of the state, and might incur liable in damages.
    • NB: in 2004, Comm issued reasoned opinion against Sweden on basis of its Sup Ct’s failure to make prelim ref to ECJ, and absence of any national law/reg for prelim ref procedure. But resolved prior to judgment by ECJ!