Rewe-Zentral AG v Bundesmonopolverwaltung für Branntwein
|Cassis de Dijon|
|Submitted May 22 1978
Decided February 20 1979
|Full case name||Rewe-Zentral AG v Bundesmonopolverwaltung für Branntwein|
|Nationality of parties||Germany|
|Article 28 EC|
|Measures having equivalent effect|
Rewe-Zentral AG v Bundesmonopolverwaltung für Branntwein, also known as Cassis de Dijon , is a 1979 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The Court held that a regulation applying to both imported and to domestic goods (an "indistinctly applicable measure") that produces an effect equivalent to a quantitative import restriction is an unlawful restriction on the free movement of goods. The case is a seminal judicial interpretation of article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
A German importer, Rewe, had been refused permission by a German authority, the Bundesmonopolverwaltung für Branntwein, to import Cassis de Dijon, a type of fruit cream liqueur into Germany. At the time, German law stated that fruit liqueur, in order to be called as such, must contain a minimum alcohol by volume of 25%; French liqueurs were traditionally weaker and the Crème de cassis from Dijon contained just 15% ABV. Rewe appealed the decision and the German courts referred the case to the European Court of Justice, the European Union's highest court. That court found that, even though the German rules on alcohol levels for different categories of spirit applied to all beverages, regardless of their origin, its application to imported products imposed a double burden on them and thus constituted a measure having an effect equivalent to a quantitative restriction on trade.
Facts of the case
The case concerned the sale of "cassis de Dijon" (a type of crème de cassis) in Germany by an importer and retailer (Rewe). Crème de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur produced in France containing 15% to 20% alcohol by volume. The German government had a law stipulating that products sold as fruit liqueur had to contain at least 25% alcohol by volume. Therefore, the Bundesmonopolverwaltung für Branntwein (a section of the German Federal Ministry of Finance) told Rewe that the cassis de Dijon might be imported: on the other hand, it advised the importer that its marketing wasn't allowed in Germany. The importer argued that this represented a quantitative restriction on trade in breach of article 34 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union.
The ECJ held that the German legislation represented a measure having an effect equivalent to a quantitative restriction on imports and was thus in breach of article 28 of the Treaty:
|“||The concept of measures having an effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions on imports contained in article 30 [now 34 TFEU (former article 28 EC)] of the EEC treaty is to be understood to mean that the fixing of a minimum alcohol content for alcoholic beverages intended for human consumption by the legislation of a member state also falls within the prohibition laid down in that provision where the importation of alcoholic beverages lawfully produced and marketed in another member state is concerned.||”|
The major outcome of this case is the principle of mutual recognition: the court held that there was no valid reason that a product lawfully marketed in one member state should not be introduced in another member state.
To soften this wide opening of the gates for intra-Community trading, the court went on to provide four mandatory requirements that might be accepted as necessary for restricting trading in addition to the fixed derogations of TFEU 36 of the Lisbon Treaty:
|“||...the effectiveness of fiscal supervision, the protection of public health, the fairness of commercial transactions, and the defense of the consumer.||”|
In 2010, Switzerland unilaterally adopted this principle: generally, goods that can be lawfully produced or marketed according to standards applying in the European Union can also be lawfully produced or marketed in Switzerland or imported from the EU into Switzerland.
- Neue Zürcher Zeitung: Erleichterte EU-Importe, May 20, 2010.(German)
- Craig, Paul; de Búrca, Gráinne (2007). EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 677–679. ISBN 978-0-19-927389-8.
- Steiner, Josephine; Woods, Lorna; Twigg-Flesner, Christian (2006). EU Law (9th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 378–382, 397. ISBN 978-0-19-927959-3.