EuGH, Rs. 53/76 v. 3.2.1977 - Anker-Uhren (english)


EuGH, Urteil v. 3.2.1977, Rs. 53/76, Slg. 1977, 197 - Procureur de la Republique, Besancon / Bouhelier und andere


EWG-Vertrag, Art. 34

Summary

THE EXPRESSION ' QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS AND ANY MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT ' CONTAINED IN ARTICLE 34 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AS APPLYING TO RULES ADOPTED BY A MEMBER STATE WHICH REQUIRE IN RESPECT ONLY OF THE EXPORT OF CERTAIN GOODS EITHER A LICENCE OR A STANDARDS CERTIFICATE WHICH IS ISSUED IN PLACE OF SUCH LICENCE AND MAY BE REFUSED IF THE QUALITY DOES NOT CONFORM TO CERTAIN STANDARDS LAID DOWN BY THE BODY ISSUING THE SAID CERTIFICATE , EVEN IF SUCH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO THE IMPOSITION OF A CHARGE .

Parties

IN CASE 53/76

REFERENCE TO THE COURT UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY BY THE TRIBUNAL CORRECTIONNEL ( CRIMINAL COURT ) OF BESANCON , FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THAT COURT BETWEEN

PROCUREUR DE LA REPUBLIQUE ( PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ), BESANCON ,

AND

BOUHELIER AND OTHERS , RESIDING IN THE DEPARTEMENT OF DOUBS ,

Subject of the case

ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE CONCEPT OF QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS AND MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT APPEARING IN ARTICLE 34 OF THE EEC TREATY ,

Grounds of the judgment

1 BY JUDGMENT DATED 19 MAY 1976 , RECEIVED AT THE COURT REGISTRY ON 28 JUNE 1976 , THE TRIBUNAL CORRECTIONNEL , BESANCON , REFERRED TO THE COURT OF JUSTICE UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY A QUESTION CONCERNING THE INTERPRETATION OF ARTICLE 34 OF THE TREATY .

2 THE FRENCH LAW NO 48-1228 OF 22 JULY 1948 FIXED THE LEGAL CONSTITUTION OF THE TECHNICAL CENTRES FOR INDUSTRY , THE PRINCIPAL PURPOSE OF WHICH IS TO GUARANTEE QUALITY IN THE INDUSTRY .

3 A MINISTERIAL DECREE OF 22 APRIL 1949 ADOPTED IN IMPLEMENTATION OF THAT LAW ESTABLISHED THE TECHNICAL CENTRE FOR INDUSTRY ( A PUBLIC UTILITY INSTITUTION ) KNOWN AS CETEHOR .

4 AMONG ITS TASKS , CETEHOR IS REQUIRED TO EXAMINE THE QUALITY OF ALL LEVER ESCAPEMENT WATCHES AND WATCH MOVEMENTS INTENDED FOR EXPORT .

5 TWO NOTICES TO EXPORTERS FROM THE MINISTRY FOR FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS OF 30 OCTOBER 1962 AND 24 NOVEMBER 1964 REQUIRE EXPORTERS OF SUCH WATCHES AND WATCH MOVEMENTS TO OBTAIN A LICENCE FOR ALL ARTICLES EXCEPT THOSE ACCOMPANIED BY A STANDARDS CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY CETEHOR , WHICH REPLACES THE EXPORT LICENCE .

6 THE JUDGMENT REFERRING THE CASE SHOWS THAT THE ACCUSED FORGED INSPECTION CERTIFICATES ISSUED BY CETEHOR AND UNDER COVER OF THE FORGED DOCUMENTS EXPORTED LEVER ESCAPEMENT WATCHES TO OTHER MEMBER STATES .

7 THE ACCUSED JUSTIFIED THE SAID FORGERIES ON THE GROUND THAT THE SPEED OF COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS WAS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE DELAYS INHERENT IN THE PREPARATION OF THE CERTIFICATES IN QUESTION .

8 IT IS IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACTUAL AND LEGAL POSITION DESCRIBED ABOVE THAT THE TRIBUNAL CORRECTIONNEL REFERRED THE FOLLOWING QUESTION :

' MUST THE WORDS ' ' QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS AND ANY MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT ' ' CONTAINED IN ARTICLE 34 OF THE EEC TREATY BE UNDERSTOOD AS ALSO APPLYING TO THE LEGAL RULES OF A MEMBER STATE WHICH REQUIRE IN RESPECT OF THE EXPORT OF CERTAIN GOODS EITHER A LICENCE OR A STANDARDS CERTIFICATE IN PLACE OF SUCH LICENCE , WHERE SUCH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO THE IMPOSITION OF A CHARGE AND MAY BE REFUSED IF THE QUALITY DOES NOT CONFORM TO CERTAIN STANDARDS LAID DOWN BY THE BODY ISSUING THE CERTIFICATE IN SUBSTITUTION FOR THE LICENCE?

'

9 THE QUESTION ASKS , FIRST , WHETHER THE REQUIREMENT OF A LICENCE FOR THE EXPORT TO A MEMBER STATE OF A PRODUCT MANUFACTURED IN ANOTHER MEMBER STATE CONSTITUTES A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION ON EXPORTS OR A MEASURE HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT .

10 ARTICLE 34 PROVIDES THAT ' QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS , AND ALL MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT , SHALL BE PROHIBITED BETWEEN MEMBER STATES ' .

11 THE GENERAL NATURE OF THE PRINCIPLE LAID DOWN BY THAT PROVISION , AND THE INTERPRETATION WHICH HAS ALREADY BEEN GIVEN TO IT , MEAN THAT IN INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE EXPORT LICENCES CANNOT BE REQUIRED BY NATIONAL LEGISLATION , EVEN AS FACTORS IN A QUALITY INSPECTION .

12 THE SECOND PART OF THE QUESTION ASKS WHETHER A QUALITY INSPECTION INSTITUTED BY A MEMBER STATE AND CARRYING WITH IT A PROHIBITION ON THE EXPORT OF PRODUCTS WHICH DO NOT SATISFY THE QUALITY STANDARDS PROVIDED FOR BY THE NATIONAL RULES MAY BE REGARDED AS A QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTION ON EXPORTS OR A MEASURE HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT .

13 HOWEVER DESIRABLE MAY BE THE INTRODUCTION OF A POLICY ON QUALITY BY A MEMBER STATE , SUCH POLICY CAN ONLY BE DEVELOPED WITHIN THE COMMUNITY BY MEANS WHICH ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE TREATY .

14 RULES SUCH AS THOSE AT ISSUE IN THIS INSTANCE CANNOT BE REGARDED AS COMPATIBLE WITH THE AFOREMENTIONED PRINCIPLES .

15 THE FACT THAT THE OBLIGATORY QUALITY STANDARDS ONLY APPLY TO PRODUCTS INTENDED FOR EXPORT AND ARE NOT IMPOSED ON PRODUCTS MARKETED WITHIN THE MEMBER STATE LEADS TO ARBITRARY DISCRIMINATION BETWEEN THE TWO TYPES OF PRODUCTS WHICH CONSTITUTES AN OBSTACLE TO INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE , GOVERNED BY ARTICLE 34 OF THE TREATY ;

16 THUS , APART FROM THE EXCEPTIONS FOR WHICH PROVISION IS MADE BY COMMUNITY LAW , THE TREATY PRECLUDES THE APPLICATION TO INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE OF A NATIONAL PROVISION WHICH REQUIRES EXPORT LICENCES OR ANY OTHER SIMILAR PROCEDURE IN RESPECT OF EXPORTS ALONE , SUCH AS THE ISSUE OF STANDARDS CERTIFICATES , THE REQUIREMENT OF WHICH CONSTITUTES A MEASURE HAVING EFFECT EQUIVALENT TO QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS IN SO FAR AS SUCH CERTIFICATES ARE CAPABLE OF CONSTITUTING A DIRECT OR INDIRECT , ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL OBSTACLE TO INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE .

17 SUCH MEASURES ARE PROHIBITED , REGARDLESS OF THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED .

18 THE REPLY TO BE GIVEN TO THE QUESTION REFERRED MUST THEREFORE BE THAT THE EXPRESSION ' QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS AND ANY MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT ' CONTAINED IN ARTICLE 34 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AS APPLYING TO RULES ADOPTED BY A MEMBER STATE WHICH REQUIRE IN RESPECT ONLY OF THE EXPORT OF CERTAIN GOODS EITHER A LICENCE OR A STANDARDS CERTIFICATE WHICH IS ISSUED IN PLACE OF SUCH LICENCE AND MAY BE REFUSED IF THE QUALITY DOES NOT CONFORM TO CERTAIN STANDARDS LAID DOWN BY THE BODY ISSUING THE SAID CERTIFICATE , EVEN IF SUCH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO THE IMPOSITION OF A CHARGE .

Decision on costs

COSTS

19 THE COSTS INCURRED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC AND THE COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES WHICH HAVE SUBMITTED OBSERVATIONS TO THE COURT ARE NOT RECOVERABLE .

20 SINCE THE 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 TRIBUNAL CORRECTIONNEL , BESANCON , A DECISION AS TO COSTS IS A MATTER FOR THAT COURT .

Operative part of the judgment

ON THOSE GROUNDS ,

THE COURT

IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION REFERRED TO IT BY THE TRIBUNAL CORRECTIONNEL , BESANCON , BY JUDGMENT OF 19 MAY 1976 , HEREBY RULES :

THE EXPRESSION ' QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS AND ANY MEASURES HAVING EQUIVALENT EFFECT ' CONTAINED IN ARTICLE 34 OF THE EEC TREATY MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AS APPLYING TO RULES ADOPTED BY A MEMBER STATE WHICH REQUIRE IN RESPECT ONLY OF THE EXPORT OF CERTAIN GOODS EITHER A LICENCE OR A STANDARDS CERTIFICATE WHICH IS ISSUED IN PLACE OF SUCH LICENCE AND MAY BE REFUSED IF THE QUALITY DOES NOT CONFORM TO CERTAIN STANDARDS LAID DOWN BY THE BODY ISSUING THE SAID CERTIFICATE , EVEN IF SUCH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO THE IMPOSITION OF A CHARGE .