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Document 62010CA0201

Joined Cases C-201/10 and C-202/10: Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 5 May 2011 (references for a preliminary ruling from the Finanzgericht Hamburg (Germany)) — Ze Fu Fleischhandel GmbH (C-201/10), Vion Trading GmbH (C-202/10) v Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Jonas (Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 — Protection of the European Union’s financial interests — Article 3 — Recovery of an export refund — 30-year limitation period — Limitation rule forming part of the general civil law of a Member State — Application ‘by analogy’ — Principle of legal certainty — Principle of the protection of legitimate expectations — Principle of proportionality)

OJ C 194, 2.7.2011, p. 7–7 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

2.7.2011   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 194/7


Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 5 May 2011 (references for a preliminary ruling from the Finanzgericht Hamburg (Germany)) — Ze Fu Fleischhandel GmbH (C-201/10), Vion Trading GmbH (C-202/10) v Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Jonas

(Joined Cases C-201/10 and C-202/10) (1)

(Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 - Protection of the European Union’s financial interests - Article 3 - Recovery of an export refund - 30-year limitation period - Limitation rule forming part of the general civil law of a Member State - Application ‘by analogy’ - Principle of legal certainty - Principle of the protection of legitimate expectations - Principle of proportionality)

2011/C 194/08

Language of the case: German

Referring court

Finanzgericht Hamburg

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicants: Ze Fu Fleischhandel GmbH (C-201/10), Vion Trading GmbH (C-202/10)

Defendant: Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Jonas

Re:

References for a preliminary ruling — Finanzgericht Hamburg — Interpretation of Article 3(3) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities’ financial interests (OJ 1995 L 312, p. 1) — Recovery of an export refund wrongly received by the exporter by reason of irregularities committed by the latter — Application of national legislation providing for a 30-year limitation period — Principles of legal certainty and proportionality

Operative part of the judgment

1.

In circumstances such as those at issue in the cases in the main proceedings, the principle of legal certainty does not preclude in principle, in the context of the protection — as defined by Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities’ financial interests — of the European Union’s financial interests and pursuant to Article 3(3) of that regulation, the national authorities and courts of a Member State from applying ‘by analogy’ to proceedings relating to repayment of a wrongly granted export refund a limitation period derived from a general provision of national law, provided, however, that such application resulting from a judicially determined practice was sufficiently foreseeable, a matter which it is for the referring court to establish.

2.

In circumstances such as those at issue in the cases in the main proceedings, the principle of proportionality precludes, in the context of exercise by the Member States of the power which they are given by Article 3(3) of Regulation No 2988/95, application of a 30-year limitation period to proceedings relating to repayment of wrongly received refunds.

3.

In circumstances such as those at issue in the cases in the main proceedings, the principle of legal certainty precludes a ‘longer’ limitation period within the meaning of Article 3(3) of Regulation No 2988/95 from resulting from a limitation period under the general law that is reduced by case-law so that, when applied, it complies with the principle of proportionality, since, in any event, the four-year limitation period provided for in the first subparagraph of Article 3(1) of Regulation No 2988/95 can be applied in such circumstances.


(1)  OJ C 209, 31.7.2010.


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