• In the case of Case 8/74 Dassonville [1974] ECR 837, the European Court of Justice ruled on the definition of quantitative restrictions and the interpretation of European Economic Community laws in relation to trading practices.
  • This case concerned quantitative restrictions and market competition.

Facts of the Case

  • In Belgium, every import needed to be traced back to a certificate of origin.
  • D was a trader who imported Scotch whisky but could not show a certificate of origin unless the UK intervened with the negotiation and agreements.
  • D used fraudulent paperwork but contended in this appeal that the policy requiring certificates of origin violated trading rights based on Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


  • Does the national provision violate Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union?
  • Can Member State trading rules hinder free trade?

Held by European Court of Justice

  • D’s claim allowed – the legislation in Belgium breached Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Judge R. Lecourt

Certificate of origin

  • A certificate of origin cannot smoothly be acquired nor is it freely used by other Member States thus it is a measure having an effect equivalent to a quantitative restriction as per Treaty obligations.
  • “In the absence of a Community system guaranteeing for consumers the authenticity of a product’s designation of origin, if a Member State takes measures to prevent unfair practices in this connection, it is however subject to the condition that these measures should be reasonable and that the means of proof required should not act as a hindrance to trade between Member States and should, in consequence, be accessible to all Community nationals.”

Free movement of goods

  • “In this connexion, the maintenance within a member state of prices appreciably higher than those in force in another member state may prompt an examination as to whether the exclusive dealing agreement is being used for the purpose of preventing importers from obtaining the means of proof of authenticity of the product in question, required by national rules of the type envisaged by the question. However, the fact that an agreement merely authorizes the concessionaire to exploit such a national rule or does not prohibit him from doing so, does not suffice, in itself, to render the agreement null and void.”

Dassonville formula

  • “All trading rules enacted by member-States which are capable of hindering, directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, intra-Community trade are to be considered as measures having an effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions.”

Editor’s Notes

  • The joined Cases C-267/91 and C-268/91 Keck v Mithouard [1993] ECR I-6097 later expanded the definition of measures having effect equivalent to a quantitative restriction on imports established by this case.