Luxembourg, 8 December 2022
AG Collins proposes that the Court should find that the UK has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law by failing to implement the judgment delivered in Case C-503/17. He also proposes that the UK should be condemned to pay a lump sum of € 17 million.
In its judgment of 17 October 2018, Commission v United Kingdom (C-503/17), the Court held that, by authorizing the use of marked fuel for the purposes of private pleasure boating, even when this fuel is not subject to any exemption or reduction of excise duty, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under Council Directive 95/60/EC of 27 November 1995, concerning the tax marking of diesel fuel and kerosene.
On 21 December 2020, the European Commission brought this action under Article 260 TFEU against the United Kingdom seeking a declaration that it has not implemented the judgment delivered in case C-503/17 and asking the Court to impose a monetary penalty.
This action is characterized by at least three new elements:
Firstly, it is the only one of its kind to be formed against the UK when it was a member of the European Union. Secondly, it was introduced during the transition period provided for by the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (ci -after the “withdrawal agreement”). Thirdly, at the end of this transitional period, the United Kingdom was bound to comply with the judgment in Case C-503/17 only in respect of Northern Ireland.
In ruling on the present action, the Court is therefore called upon to determine whether the last of these three elements (a) mitigates the gravity of the infringement and/or (b)results in the gross domestic product (GDP) of Ireland of the North, distinct from that of the United Kingdom, must be used to calculate the lump sum.
In today’s Opinion AG Collins proposes to the Court to:
• find that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations
under Article 260(1) TFEU, read in conjunction with Articles 127, 131 and 185 of the agreement on the
withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, by not executing the judgment of 17 October 2018, Commission/United Kingdom (C 503/17);
• condemn the United Kingdom, pursuant to Article 260(2) TFEU, read in conjunction with Articles 127, 131 and 185 of the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from Great Britain and Ireland of the North of the European Union and of the European Atomic Energy Community, to pay the European Commission a lump sum of 17 million euros;
• order the United Kingdom to pay the costs.
NOTE: The Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice. It is the role of the Advocates General to propose to the Court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible. The Judges of the Court are now beginning their deliberations in this case. Judgment will be given at a later date.
NOTE: An action for failure to fulfil obligations directed against a Member State which has failed to comply with its obligations under European Union law may be brought by the Commission or by another Member State. If the Court of Justice finds that there has been a failure to fulfil obligations, the Member State concerned must comply with the Court’s judgment without delay. Where the Commission considers that the Member State has not complied with the judgment, it may bring a further action seeking financial penalties.
However, if measures transposing a directive have not been notified to the Commission, the Court of Justice can, on a proposal from the Commission, impose penalties at the stage of the initial judgment. Unofficial document for media use, not binding on the Court of Justice.
Source – EU Court of Justice – Email