29 October, 2011

The RIO Trip - Part 2: The Imperial Palace of the EU Judiciary

On tuesday evening we moved on from Strasbourg, leaving the Council of Europe behind, and travelled to the center of the EU judiciary: the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU, formerly and still popularly referred to as the ECJ) in the city of Luxembourg. We only had one evening to spend in Luxembourg, but luckily we got a quick look at the city before it started becoming too late. The city is built in and around a valley so it provides for some spectacular scenery and indeed the city is beautiful. My former professor in EU constitutional law, however, had a theory that they put the CJEU in Luxembourg because of the city state being so dull that the only thing that the judges could occupy themselves with was solving cases. I stayed way to short in Luxembourg to give a reasoned opinion on the city itself, so this post will focus more on the Court itself.

27 October, 2011

"Solvay" - Violation of Rights of Defense in Competition Case

The Court of Justice (CJEU) has decided on Tuesday that the Commission's decision to fine Solvay for violations of Art. 101 TFEU is invalid, because Solvay's rights of defense were violated. This story dates back to 1990 when the first decision was adopted. This decision was later declared invalid by the CJEU because of procedural errors. In 2000 the Commission basically adopted the same decision again, which was again contested by Solvay. This time, they alleged that their rights of defense had been breached because the Commission had not provided access to all files that their decision was based on.

The slightly funny part of this story is that the Commission was apparently willing to give Solvay access to all files to prepare their defense - but could not because parts of the file had been lost. The Commission was not even able to produce a table of contents of the lost file.

23 October, 2011

The RIO Trip - Part 1: A journey to the heartland of European integration

Last Friday we returned from the RIO-trip, an annual study trip arranged by Leiden University, where master students from the European Law Programme are invited to travel to the three centres of European institutions: Strasbourg; Luxembourg and Brussels.

11 October, 2011

The International Cocoa Agreement

Today the International Cocoa Agreement  (ICCO) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Despite its rather comic name, the treaty is an important international instrument which seeks to promote sustainable growth and fair renumeration for cocoa and cocoa-related products.

Nevertheless, one cannot but help to snicker a bit when reading the preamble, where the contracting parties recognize: "that close international cooperation on cocoa matters and continuing dialogue between all stakeholders in the cocoa value chain may contribute to the sustainable development of the world cocoa economy [...]" (Preamble).