• In the case of Case 120/78 Cassis de Dijon [1979] ECR 649, the Court ruled on the principle of mutual recognition and held that there should be consumer protection to prevent products from being treated differently because of where they came from.
  • This case concerned free movement of goods and quantitative restrictions.
  • This case established mandatory requirements that apply only to indistinctly applicable measures.

Facts of the Case

  • According to German legislation, the minimum alcohol level for spirits like cassis per litre was 25%. C wished to import a liqueur under this limit called the Cassis de Dijon.
  • C contended that this limit as per German legislation breached Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  • D contended this law was designed for public health reasons and for commercial fairness.

Issues

  • Was the national legislation in Germany justified?
  • Could these rules be enforced on the grounds of public health and consumer protection?

Held by European Court of Justice

  • C’s claim allowed – this restriction breaches Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and constitutes as a measure having an effect equivalent to a quantitative restriction on imports.

Advocate General (Sig. Francesco Capotorti)

Mutual obligation

  • Manufactured imports sold lawfully in and from other EU states should be lawfully recognized in all EU states.
  • States cannot unlawfully impose extra sale restrictions in the imported state without justification. The measure in this case is clearly an obstacle to free trade.
  • “Obstacles to movement within the Community resulting from disparities between the national laws relating to the marketing of the products in question must be accepted in so far as those provisions may be recognized as being necessary in order to satisfy mandatory requirements relating in particular to the effectiveness of fiscal supervision, the protection of public health, the fairness of commercial transactions and the defence of the consumer”.
  • “There is therefore no valid reason why, provided that they have been lawfully produced and marketed in one of the member states, alcoholic beverages should not be introduced into any other member state; the sale of such products may not be subject to a legal prohibition on the marketing of beverages with an alcohol content lower than the limit set by the national rules.”