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Document 61977CJ0082

Rozsudek Soudního dvora ze dne 24. ledna 1978.
Openbaar Ministerie van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden proti Jacobus Philippus van Tiggele.
Žádost o rozhodnutí o předběžné otázce: Gerechtshof Amsterdam - Nizozemsko.
Věc 82/77.

ECLI identifier: ECLI:EU:C:1978:10

61977J0082

Judgment of the Court of 24 January 1978. - Ministère public du Kingdom of the Netherlands v Jacobus Philippus van Tiggele. - Reference for a preliminary ruling: Gerechtshof Amsterdam - Netherlands. - Minimum prices of gin. - Case 82/77.

European Court reports 1978 Page 00025
Greek special edition Page 00015
Portuguese special edition Page 00015
Spanish special edition Page 00015
Swedish special edition Page 00001
Finnish special edition Page 00001


Summary
Parties
Subject of the case
Grounds
Decision on costs
Operative part

Keywords


1 . QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS - MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT - PROHIBITION - CRITERIA

( EEC TREATY , ART . 30 )

2 . QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS - MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT - FIXED MINIMUM PRICE - APPLICATION WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS - LOWER COST PRICE OF IMPORTED PRODUCTS - NOT TO BE REFLECTED IN THE SELLING PRICE TO CONSUMERS - PROHIBITION - EXEMPTION FROM FIXED MINIMUM PRICE AND TEMPORARY NATURE OF ITS APPLICATION - LACK OF JUSTIFICATION

( EEC TREATY , ART . 30 )

3 . AIDS GRANTED BY STATES - MINIMUM PRICES - FIXING BY PUBLIC AUTHORITIES OF MINIMUM RETAIL PRICES - COST BORNE EXCLUSIVELY BY CONSUMERS - NOT STATE AID

( EEC TREATY , ART . 92 )

Summary


1 . FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE PROHIBITION OF MEASURES HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION IT IS SUFFICIENT THAT SUCH MEASURES ARE LIKELY TO HINDER , DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY , ACTUALLY OR POTENTIALLY , IMPORTS BETWEEN MEMBER STATES .

2 . A FIXED MINIMUM PRICE WHICH , ALTHOUGH APPLICABLE WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS , IS CAPABLE OF HAVING AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE MARKETING OF THE LATTER MUST BE CONSIDERED AS A MEASURE HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION IN SO FAR AS IT PREVENTS THEIR LOWER COST PRICE FROM BEING REFLECTED IN THE RETAIL SELLING PRICE . THIS CONCLUSION MUST BE DRAWN EVEN THOUGH THE COMPETENT AUTHORITY IS EMPOWERED TO GRANT EXEMPTIONS FROM THE FIXED MINIMUM PRICE AND THOUGH THIS POWER IS FREELY APPLIED TO IMPORTED PRODUCTS , SINCE THE REQUIREMENT THAT IMPORTERS AND TRADERS MUST COMPLY WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE FORMALITIES INHERENT IN SUCH A SYSTEM MAY IN ITSELF CONSTITUTE A MEASURE HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION . THE TEMPORARY NATURE OF THE APPLICATION OF THE FIXED MINIMUM PRICES IS NOT A FACTOR CAPABLE OF JUSTIFYING SUCH A MEASURE SINCE IT IS INCOMPATIBLE ON OTHER GROUNDS WITH ARTICLE 30 OF THE TREATY .

3 . ARTICLE 92 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED AS MEANING THAT THE FIXING BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY OF MINIMUM RETAIL PRICES FOR A PRODUCT AT THE EXCLUSIVE EXPENSE OF CONSUMERS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN AID GRANTED BY A STATE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT ARTICLE .

Parties


IN CASE 82/77

REFERENCE TO THE COURT UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY BY THE GERECHTSHOF , AMSTERDAM , FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THAT COURT BETWEEN

OPENBAAR MINISTERIE ( PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ) OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS

AND

JACOBUS PHILIPPUS VAN TIGGELE , RESIDING IN MAASDAM , NETHERLANDS ,

Subject of the case


ON THE INTERPRETATION OF ARTICLES 30 TO 37 AND 92 TO 94 OF THE SAID TREATY ,

Grounds


1BY AN ORDER OF 30 JUNE 1977 WHICH WAS RECEIVED AT THE COURT ON 5 JULY 1977 THE GERECHTSHOF , AMSTERDAM , SUBMITTED , PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY , TWO QUESTIONS ON THE INTERPRETATION , FIRST , OF ARTICLES 30 TO 37 OF THE TREATY CONCERNING THE ELIMINATION OF QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES AND , SECONDLY , OF ARTICLES 92 TO 94 OF THE TREATY CONCERNING AIDS GRANTED BY STATES .

2THOSE QUESTIONS WERE SUBMITTED IN CONNEXION WITH CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS INSTITUTED AGAINST A LICENSED VICTUALLER WHO WAS ACCUSED OF SELLING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES AT PRICES BELOW THE MINIMUM PRICES FIXED BY THE PRODUKTSCHAP VOOR GEDISTILLEERDE DRANKEN PURSUANT TO THE ROYAL DECREE OF 18 DECEMBER 1975 ( STAATSBLAD NO 746 ).

3THE REGULATION OF THE PRODUKTSCHAP OF 17 DECEMBER 1975 CONCERNING THE PRICE OF SPIRITS , APPROVED BY THE MINISTER FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS ON 19 DECEMBER 1975 , ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE COUNTRY A SYSTEM OF MINIMUM RETAIL PRICES WHICH VARIED ACCORDING TO EACH CATEGORY OF SPIRITS .

4THE MINIMUM PRICE FOR SPIRITS OF THE KIND KNOWN AS ' NEW HOLLANDS GIN ' AND ' VIEUX ' IS CALCULATED ON THE BASIS OF THE MANUFACTURER ' S CATALOGUE PRICE PER UNIT INCREASED BY HFL 0.60 AND BY VALUE ADDED TAX , THE TOTAL OF WHICH MUST IN NO CASE BE LOWER THAN A SPECIFIC AMOUNT , NAMELY HFL 11.25 PER LITRE .

5THE MINIMUM PRICES OF SPIRITS OF THE TYPE KNOWN AS ' OLD HOLLANDS GIN ' IS FIXED AT HFL 11.25 PER LITRE .

6THE MINIMUM PRICE FOR ALL OTHER SPIRITS IS THE ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE INCREASED BY VALUE ADDED TAX .

7PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 7 OF THE REGULATION THE MINIMUM PRICE , WHICH HAD AT FIRST BEEN FIXED AT HFL 11.25 , WAS INCREASED TO HFL 11.70 BECAUSE OF THE RISE IN COSTS .

8ARTICLE 8 AUTHORIZES THE PRESIDENT OF THE PRODUKTSCHAP TO GRANT EXEMPTION FROM THE PROVISIONS OF THE REGULATION IN CERTAIN CASES OR CATEGORIES OF CASES .

9IT IS CLEAR FROM THE STATEMENT OF REASONS ON WHICH THE ROYAL DECREE OF 18 DECEMBER 1975 IS BASED THAT THE POWER CONFERRED UPON THE PRODUKTSCHAP TO ISSUE SUCH RULES WAS INTENDED TO PROMOTE THE ADAPTATION OF THE WINE AND SPIRIT TRADE TO NORMAL COMPETITIVE CONDITIONS AND THAT SUCH POWER WAS TO BE LIMITED TO A PERIOD OF THREE YEARS .

THE FIRST QUESTION

10THE FIRST QUESTION ASKS IN SUBSTANCE WHETHER ARTICLES 30 TO 37 OF THE TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED AS MEANING THAT THE PROHIBITION WHICH THEY SET OUT COVERS PRICE-CONTROL RULES SUCH AS THOSE CONCERNED IN THE PRESENT PROCEEDINGS .

11ARTICLE 30 OF THE TREATY PROHIBITS IN TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES ALL MEASURES HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS .

12FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS PROHIBITION IT IS SUFFICIENT THAT THE MEASURES IN QUESTION ARE LIKELY TO HINDER , DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY , ACTUALLY OR POTENTIALLY , IMPORTS BETWEEN MEMBER STATES .

13WHILST NATIONAL PRICE-CONTROL RULES APPLICABLE WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS CANNOT IN GENERAL PRODUCE SUCH AN EFFECT THEY MAY DO SO IN CERTAIN SPECIFIC CASES .

14THUS IMPORTS MAY BE IMPEDED IN PARTICULAR WHEN A NATIONAL AUTHORITY FIXES PRICES OR PROFIT MARGINS AT SUCH A LEVEL THAT IMPORTED PRODUCTS ARE PLACED AT A DISADVANTAGE IN RELATION TO IDENTICAL DOMESTIC PRODUCTS EITHER BECAUSE THEY CANNOT PROFITABLY BE MARKETED IN THE CONDITIONS LAID DOWN OR BECAUSE THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE CONFERRED BY LOWER COST PRICES IS CANCELLED OUT .

15THESE ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS IN THE LIGHT OF WHICH THE QUESTION SUBMITTED MUST BE SETTLED SINCE THE PRESENT CASE CONCERNS A PRODUCT FOR WHICH THERE IS NO COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKET .

16FIRST A NATIONAL PROVISION WHICH PROHIBITS WITHOUT DISTINCTION THE RETAIL SALE OF DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS AT PRICES BELOW THE PURCHASE PRICE PAID BY THE RETAILER CANNOT PRODUCE EFFECTS DETRIMENTAL TO THE MARKETING OF IMPORTED PRODUCTS ALONE AND CONSEQUENTLY CANNOT CONSTITUTE A MEASURE HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION ON IMPORTS .

17FURTHERMORE THE FIXING OF THE MINIMUM PROFIT MARGIN AT A SPECIFIC AMOUNT , AND NOT AS A PERCENTAGE OF THE COST PRICE , APPLICABLE WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS IS LIKEWISE INCAPABLE OF PRODUCING AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON IMPORTED PRODUCTS WHICH MAY BE CHEAPER , AS IN THE PRESENT CASE WHERE THE AMOUNT OF THE PROFIT MARGIN CONSTITUTES A RELATIVELY INSIGNIFICANT PART OF THE FINAL RETAIL PRICE .

18ON THE OTHER HAND THIS IS NOT SO IN THE CASE OF A MINIMUM PRICE FIXED AT A SPECIFIC AMOUNT WHICH , ALTHOUGH APPLICABLE WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS , IS CAPABLE OF HAVING AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE MARKETING OF THE LATTER IN SO FAR AS IT PREVENTS THEIR LOWER COST PRICE FROM BEING REFLECTED IN THE RETAIL SELLING PRICE .

19THIS IS THE CONCLUSION WHICH MUST BE DRAWN EVEN THOUGH THE COMPETENT AUTHORITY IS EMPOWERED TO GRANT EXEMPTIONS FROM THE FIXED MINIMUM PRICE AND THOUGH THIS POWER IS FREELY APPLIED TO IMPORTED PRODUCTS , SINCE THE REQUIREMENT THAT IMPORTERS AND TRADERS MUST COMPLY WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE FORMALITIES INHERENT IN SUCH A SYSTEM MAY IN ITSELF CONSTITUTE A MEASURE HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION .

20THE TEMPORARY NATURE OF THE APPLICATION OF THE FIXED MINIMUM PRICES IS NOT A FACTOR CAPABLE OF JUSTIFYING SUCH A MEASURE SINCE IT IS INCOMPATIBLE ON OTHER GROUNDS WITH ARTICLE 30 OF THE TREATY .

21THE ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION MUST THEREFORE BE THAT ARTICLE 30 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED TO MEAN THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT BY A NATIONAL AUTHORITY OF A MINIMUM RETAIL PRICE FIXED AT A SPECIFIC AMOUNT AND APPLICABLE WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS CONSTITUTES , IN CONDITIONS SUCH AS THOSE LAID DOWN IN THE REGULATION MADE BY THE PRODUKTSCHAP VOOR GEDISTILLEERDE DRANKEN ON 17 DECEMBER 1975 , A MEASURE HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION ON IMPORTS WHICH IS PROHIBITED UNDER THE SAID ARTICLE 30 .

THE SECOND QUESTION

22THE SECOND QUESTION ASKS IN SUBSTANCE WHETHER ARTICLES 92 TO 94 OF THE TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED AS MEANING THAT PRICE-CONTROL RULES SUCH AS THOSE IN THE PRESENT CASE CONSTITUTE AN AID GRANTED BY THE STATE .

23ARTICLE 92 STATES THAT ANY AID GRANTED BY A MEMBER STATE OR THROUGH STATE RESOURCES IN ANY FORM WHATSOEVER WHICH DISTORTS OR THREATENS TO DISTORT COMPETITION BY FAVOURING CERTAIN UNDERTAKINGS OR THE PRODUCTION OF CERTAIN GOODS SHALL , IN SO FAR AS IT AFFECTS TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES , BE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE COMMON MARKET .

24WHATEVER DEFINITION MUST BE PLACED UPON THE CONCEPT OF AN ' AID ' WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT ARTICLE IT IS CLEAR FROM THE WORDING THEREOF THAT A MEASURE CHARACTERIZED BY THE FIXING OF MINIMUM RETAIL PRICES WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF FAVOURING DISTRIBUTORS OF A PRODUCT AT THE EXCLUSIVE EXPENSE OF CONSUMERS CANNOT CONSTITUTE AN AID WITHIN THE MEANING OF ARTICLE 92 .

25THE ADVANTAGES WHICH SUCH AN INTERVENTION IN THE FORMATION OF PRICES ENTAILS FOR THE DISTRIBUTORS OF THE PRODUCT ARE NOT GRANTED , DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY , THROUGH STATE RESOURCES WITHIN THE MEANING OF ARTICLE 92 .

26THE ANSWER TO THE SECOND QUESTION MUST THEREFORE BE THAT ARTICLE 92 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED AS MEANING THAT THE FIXING BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY OF MINIMUM RETAIL PRICES FOR A PRODUCT AT THE EXCLUSIVE EXPENSE OF CONSUMERS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN AID GRANTED BY A STATE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT ARTICLE .

Decision on costs


COSTS

27THE COSTS INCURRED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS AND THE COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES WHICH HAVE SUBMITTED OBSERVATIONS TO THE COURT ARE NOT RECOVERABLE .

28AS THESE PROCEEDINGS ARE , IN SO FAR AS THE PARTIES TO THE MAIN ACTION ARE CONCERNED , IN THE NATURE OF A STEP IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THE NATIONAL COURT , THE DECISION ON COSTS IS A MATTER FOR THAT COURT .

Operative part


ON THOSE GROUNDS ,

THE COURT ,

IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTIONS SUBMITTED TO IT BY THE GERECHTSHOF , AMSTERDAM , BY AN ORDER OF 30 JUNE 1977 , HEREBY RULES :

1 . ARTICLE 30 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED TO MEAN THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT BY A NATIONAL AUTHORITY OF A MINIMUM RETAIL PRICE FIXED AT A SPECIFIC AMOUNT AND APPLICABLE WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO DOMESTIC PRODUCTS AND IMPORTED PRODUCTS CONSTITUTES , IN CONDITIONS SUCH AS THOSE LAID DOWN IN THE REGULATION MADE BY THE PRODUKTSCHAP VOOR GESTILLEERDE DRANKEN ON 17 DECEMBER 1975 , A MEASURE HAVING AN EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION ON IMPORTS WHICH IS PROHIBITED UNDER THE SAID ARTICLE 30 .

2 . ARTICLE 92 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE INTERPRETED AS MEANING THAT THE FIXING BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY OF MINIMUM RETAIL PRICES FOR A PRODUCT AT THE EXCLUSIVE EXPENSE OF CONSUMERS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN AID GRANTED BY A STATE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT ARTICLE .

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