CIBELIS Newsletter 3

 

Cari lettori,

 

Benvenuti al terzo numero della CIBELIS Newsletter!

Nei prossimi mesi la Cattedra Jean Monnet organizzerà una serie di eventi (seminari e convegni). Vi invito quindi a visitare regolarmente il sito del C.I.R.D.E.

Segnalo inoltre con piacere che è stato pubblicato, nell'ambito della collana del Centro, il volume del dott. Carlo Tovo dal titolo "Le agenzie decentrate dell'Unione europea".

 

Lucia Serena Rossi


 

Osservatorio - Observatory

European Parliament as a new path to the Human Right to Water in the Union?

On September 8th 2015, in Strasbourg, an important step has been taken concerning the human right to water. The European Parliament approved by simple majority (363 votes to 96, with 231 abstentions) the resolution on the follow-up to the European Citizen Initiative, Right2Water (P8_TA(2015)0294). The document contains points of great importance for the recognition of the right to water in the EU legal order, e.g. its quality, quantity, affordability, accessibility, etc.  Above and beyond the classic issues on water addressed therein, the document represents a political turning point in the field of the human right to water, as it is the first time that the EP calls on the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals that would recognize universal access and the human right to water. Moreover, the Parliament goes further advocating that the universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation should be recognized also in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The report was submitted by MEP Lynn Boylan, who indicated that “[...] the official response of the Commission was vague, disappointing and did not properly address the demands of the Right2Water campaign.”

In fact, the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) on water and sanitation, was the first initiative that met all the requirements established in the Regulation No. 211/2011 (32011R0211). It was officially submitted in December 2013, inviting the Commission to propose legislation recognizing and implementing the human right to water and sanitation, as it has been recognized by the United Nations in 2010. The initiative was based on three main points. First, it urged that the EU and the Member States should guarantee the right to water and sanitation; second, that the water supply and the water resource intended for human consumption should not be under the rules of internal market and should be excluded from liberalization; and third, the initiative also suggested that the EU should act for the improvement of universal access to water. Unfortunately, the initiative did not achieve the desired result, as the Commission, in its Communication on the European Citizens' Initiative “Water and sanitation are human right!! Water is a public good, not a commodity!” (52014DC0177), limited itself to reiterating existing commitments. It was for this reason that the Commission was criticized as lacking ambition in replying the first ECI.

Other than the petitions made by the ECI on water, the resolution included also detailed suggestions on the possible action plan in order to improve the quality of water supply and sanitation services in the EU. For example, it is worth noting that in paragraphs 49-51 of the resolution, the EP suggested the Commission to set up a benchmarking system. It is difficult to clearly understand from the text how this system will work; however, if this 'benchmarking system' will imply setting a standard as a point of reference, it would be a great instrument to evaluate the performances of each case concerning the quality, quantity of water and its supply. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that, in practice, it will be highly difficult to establish a specific point of reference, as water issues comprise various aspects (such as legal, political, cultural, geographical, climatological, etc.) that impact on each Member State in terms of decision-making.  However, despite obvious difficulties, the EP tried to accelerate the process towards an adequate protection of the right to water for all. The establishment of such benchmarking system will show the Commission's actual will to actively work on this matter.

Furthermore, taking into account recent events, the role that the EP has been playing in the field of EU water law cannot be ignored. Since June 2008, it has been supporting the improvement of the  EU's water quality rules, requiring regular updates of the list of priority substances in order to progressively enhance the quality of water. Moreover, the EP ENVI Committee hosted on 17th February 2014 the public hearing of the ECI for water, where the representatives of the initiative recalled the requests made in their first submissions to the Commission. The fact that the EP approved the present resolution demonstrates that this public hearing was successful.

Finally, even though this document has no binding effect, it constitutes the first time that an EU institution called for a legislative proposal recognizing the human right to water. As explained above, the Commission has already evaded this issue in the context of the ECI for water and was heavily criticized for neglecting the results of what was considered a successful and widely supported initiative. That being said, also taking into account the risk for the credibility of the EU vis à vis its citizens, it is suggested that the Commission will have to take some sort of action. It will be interesting to see what steps it will take concerning the request from the Parliament, especially because the recognition of the human right to water in the EU legal order will imply cross-cutting, complex and delicate choices.

(Yuu Shibata)


Legal Framework of the Eurasian Economic Union

The creation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) established on 1 January 2015, a new international organization for regional economic integration, was very controversial. The information available is essentially political, not legal. The objective of this contribution is to review the Eurasian integration process; the EAEU Treaty; the architecture of the EAEU and the regulation of certain areas of law resulting therefrom.

The EAEU includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. On 12 August 2015 the Treaty on the Accession of Kyrgyzstan was enforced and the latter country has become a full-fledged member of the EAEU.

The Eurasian integration project has born more than 20 years ago. The idea of the Eurasian Union belongs to the President of Kazakhstan. During his speech in Moscow State University in 1994 he presented the project of integration of new independent states on a mutual basis but this idea did not received any support. The integration process started in 1995 when the Agreement on Custom Union was signed by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. In 2007 the Treaty on the Creation of the Single Customs Territory and Establishment of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia was signed. And in 2010 a single custom tariff and a Custom Code was created. On 1 July 2011 the custom control in the internal boundaries was removed and the creation of the single custom territory was accomplished; this ensured free movement of goods and the progressive development of a common legal framework in the field of technical regulation. In 2012 the process of creating a single economic space aimed at closer cooperation between member states was completed. Besides from the free movement of goods and a common trade regime with third countries, free movement of services, capital and labor force; as well as cooperation in the field of industry, agriculture, energy and transport (based on coordinated actions) was foreseen. In 2012 the Court of the Eurasian Economic Community and Eurasian Economic Commission was established. A new phase of the Eurasian integration began on 1 January 2015 with the enforcement of the EAEU Treaty, signed on 29 May 2014.

The EAEU Treaty contains 118 Articles and 33 Annexes (Part I “Establishment of the EAEU” (international legal personality, bodies of the EAEU), Part IV “Transitional and Final Provisions” (deadlines for the establishment of the energy and financial market, accession to the EAEU, Russian as the working language, dispute settlement procedure, withdrawal from the Treaty). One of the characteristic features of the Treaty of the EAEU is that it includes the provisions on the Custom Union and Single Economic Space and the description of areas falling within their scope. Part II “Custom Union” contains provisions on internal market, common market of medical products, foreign trade, tariff and non–tariff regulation, technical regulation, consumer protection. Part III “Single Economic Space” deals with macroeconomic and monetary policy, services, financial market, taxes, competition, energy market, transport, intellectual property, agriculture, labor migration. Another feature is that the EAEU Treaty contains many definitions mainly provided in Art. 2 of the Treaty (“harmonization of law”, “Custom Union”, “Single Economic Space”, “single policy”, “common market”, “coordinated policy”, “unification of law”, etc.) and principles (functioning of the EAEU and Custom Union, technical regulations, financial and energy markets, etc., that are included in relative articles of the Treaty).

The law of the EAEU is composed of the EAEU Treaty; international treaties; decisions and regulations of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Union, Eurasian Intergovernmental Union, and Eurasian Economic Commission. The Court of the EAEU can be asked by the member States and the economic bodies of the EAEU to interpret the law but the interpretation is of advisory character and does not hinder the member states’ right to interpret the law.

The bodies of the EAEU are the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (supreme body composed of the heads of the member states that defines strategy and perspectives of integration and is empowered to take decisions by consensus aimed at realization of objectives of the EAEU); the Eurasian Intergovernmental Economic Council (composed of the heads of the governments of the member states and responsible for the control over the implementation of the Treaty and international treaties adopted by the EAEU, decisions of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, etc.), Eurasian Economic Commission (a supranational regulatory body with the main task of ensuring the functioning and development of the EAEU, prepare proposals for its further integration; including within it the Board and the Collegium); the Court of the EAEU (a permanent judicial body of the EAEU with the task of ensuring the uniform application of the EAEU Treaty, international treaties concluded within the EAEU and international treaties between the EAEU and third states and decisions of the bodies of the EAEU).

Amid the objectives of the EAEU: the creation of the conditions for a stable economic development; comprehensive modernization, cooperation and competitiveness of national economies in the context of the global economy.

One of the most rapidly developing legal areas in the EAEU is technical regulation. The technical regulation of EAEU member states was based on Soviet Union mandatory standards (so – called GOSTs) that regulated all characteristics of the producing of goods; some of them remained valid or were modified after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The Eurasian integration process called for the elaboration of new technical regulation (the Eurasian Economic Commission is responsible for adoption of technical regulation and validation of standards). Technical regulations have direct effect in the EAEU. Technical regulation does not set requirements for services and employment, as the latter fall within the competences of the member states (except those ones dealing with production of certain goods provided in the Common list of products subject to mandatory requirements within the Custom Union).

The Eurasian region is one of the richest in energy resources. Thus the importance of creating common energy markets (of electricity, gas, oil and oil products). The EAEU Treaty provides for a three stage approach to the creation of common energy markets: defining energy markets; elaborating programs for the establishment of common energy markets; conclusion of international treaties within the EAEU on the establishment of common energy markets. The EAEU Treaty indicate a deadline for each stage: the treaty on establishment of common electricity market shall be enforced until 1 of July 2019; the treaties on the establishment of common gas market and on the establishment of common market of oil shall be enforced until 1 January 2025. The Eurasian Economic Commission will be monitoring the application of energy markets provisions.

To conclude, notwithstanding the fact that the EAEU is a new organization, the economic benefits of the Eurasian integration process are expected to be significant due to the common implementation of regulations compatible with international rules and standards, to begin with the WTO, common custom and technical regulation enhancing export in third countries; development of common markets in different areas. For instance, in 2015 a supranational body on regulation of financial market will be established in Almaty according to Art. 103 of the Treaty.

(Yuliya Milto)


Limiti del diritto dei cittadini di uno Stato terzo di risiedere in uno Stato membro dopo il divorzio dal coniuge europeo

La Corte di giustizia, con sentenza emessa in data 16 luglio 2015 nella causa C-218/14, torna ad analizzare la Direttiva 2004/38/CE (32004L0038 CELEX) per determinare se il cittadino di uno Stato terzo, che soggiorni in uno Stato membro in virtù del diritto di circolazione e soggiorno di cui gode il suo famigliare in quanto cittadino europeo, conservi il diritto di risiedere in tale Stato ospitante anche in seguito al divorzio ed alla partenza del coniuge. Nella specie la Corte è stata chiamata a pronunciarsi sull’interpretazione degli articoli della Direttiva 2004/38/CE concernenti i requisiti che i cittadini di Paesi terzi famigliari di cittadini europei devono possedere al fine dell'ottenimento di un diritto di soggiorno nel territorio dell'Unione (art. 7, par. 2) e del mantenimento di tale diritto anche in caso di divorzio, di annullamento del matrimonio o di scioglimento dell'unione registrata (art. 13). La sentenza resa dalla Corte di giustizia concerne in particolare l'interpretazione dell'art. 13, par. 2, lett. a), il quale prevede che il divorzio non determini automaticamente la perdita del diritto di soggiorno da parte dei famigliari di un cittadino dell’Unione se, tra le altre cose, il matrimonio sia durato almeno tre anni dei quali uno trascorso nello Stato membro ospitante. La vicenda ha fornito altresì l'occasione, ancora una volta, di specificare il concetto di "disponibilità di risorse economiche sufficienti al fine di non divenire un onere per il sistema di assistenza sociale dello Stato membro ospitante", requisito necessario per mantenere il diritto di risiedere a lungo termine sul territorio di uno Stato membro diverso da quello di cittadinanza.

Il procedimento instaurato innanzi la High Court d'Irlanda vedeva riunite tre cause vertenti su casi di individui provenienti da Stati terzi che avevano sposato cittadine europee di nazionalità non irlandese con cui avevano convissuto in Irlanda per numerosi anni, godendo di un permesso di soggiorno dipendente dallo status di famigliari di cittadini europei, ai sensi dell'art. 7, par. 2, della Direttiva 2004/38/CE. Nelle controversie in oggetto le mogli, dopo vari anni di vita coniugale condotta nello Stato membro ospitante, lasciavano l'Irlanda ed i rispettivi mariti e successivamente ottenevano il divorzio presso i Tribunali di un diverso Stato. Le competenti autorità provvedevano quindi a revocare ai suddetti signori il permesso di soggiornare in territorio irlandese sulla base della direttiva, adducendo che le rispettive mogli non risiedevano più in Irlanda nel momento in cui erano state avviate le procedure di divorzio. Le stesse autorità, in tutti i casi in questione, rilasciavano comunque sulla base della legge irlandese un titolo di soggiorno a tempo determinato ma rinnovabile, in virtù del fatto che, negli anni di matrimonio, i tre cittadini di Paesi terzi avevano lavorato e prodotto reddito nello Stato ospitante.

Adita dalla High Court d'Irlanda in seguito all'esperimento di un ricorso contro i provvedimenti in questione, la Corte di Giustizia è stata chiamata a determinare la possibilità per i cittadini di Stati terzi di mantenere il diritto di soggiorno nello Stato membro ospitante sulla base dell’art. 13, par. 2, anche nei casi in cui il cittadino dell'Unione, al momento del divorzio, abbia già abbandonato tale Stato. La Corte ha dovuto altresì precisare se, ai fini del riconoscimento del diritto di soggiorno nello Stato ospitante, il cittadino europeo possa dirsi rispettare le condizioni di cui alla direttiva anche qualora le sue risorse sufficienti siano costituite in prevalenza dalle risorse del cittadino dello Stato terzo.

La Corte, richiamando la propria giurisprudenza costante, ha ricordato che i diritti conferiti ai cittadini di Paesi terzi dalla Direttiva 2004/38/CE non sono diritti autonomi ma derivano dall’esercizio della libertà di circolazione da parte di un cittadino dell’Unione ed il relativo riconoscimento è quindi finalizzato a non disincentivare o pregiudicare la libertà di circolazione di quest'ultimo. Ha ricordato altresì che non è la Direttiva 2004/38/CE lo strumento europeo volto a garantire i diritti di ingresso e soggiorno nell'Unione da parte dei cittadini di Stati terzi. Per godere del diritto di soggiorno, ai sensi dell'art. 7, par. 2, della Direttiva, i cittadini di Paesi terzi devono accompagnare il loro famigliare cittadino europeo in uno degli Stati membri ed ivi con lui risiedere (senza che vi sia comunque un obbligo di coabitazione). Essi godono infatti del diritto di soggiorno previsto dalla Direttiva 2004/38/CE unicamente nello Stato membro in cui risiede il cittadino europeo ed in dipendenza della legittimità della sua residenza in tale Stato; pertanto, quando quest'ultimo lasci, come nel caso di specie, lo Stato membro ospitante per stabilirsi altrove, il famigliare cessa di soddisfare le condizioni poste dalla direttiva per godere del diritto di soggiorno. Il coniuge non potrà quindi continuare a godere del diritto in questione a titolo personale sul fondamento dell’articolo 13, par. 2 lett. a), se la partenza del cittadino dell’Unione sia avvenuta precedentemente il divorzio, poiché al momento del divorzio questo diritto non è più sussistente. Affinché il cittadino di un Paese terzo possa avvalersi del mantenimento del diritto di soggiorno nello Stato ospitante, il coniuge cittadino dell’Unione deve continuare a risiedere in tale Stato membro legittimamente ed in conformità dei requisiti posti dall'art. 7, almeno fino alla data di inizio del procedimento giudiziario di divorzio.

Infine, per quanto riguarda propriamente il requisito posto a carico del cittadino europeo concernente il possesso di risorse sufficienti per non divenire un onere a carico dell’assistenza sociale dello Stato membro ospitante, la Corte afferma che esso può dirsi integrato anche quando tali risorse provengano dal coniuge cittadino di un Paese terzo. Una valutazione in ordine alla provenienza delle risorse in questione costituirebbe infatti una ingerenza ingiustificata, e comunque sproporzionata, nelle scelte di vita del cittadino europeo la quale si tradurrebbe in una limitazione del diritto fondamentale alla libera circolazione garantito dall’articolo 21 TFUE.

La sentenza in questione, per quanto rigorosa sul piano logico ed interpretativo, si basa su una interpretazione letterale e particolarmente restrittiva delle disposizioni della direttiva col risultato che, sul piano pratico, essa legittima una disparità di trattamento tra cittadini di Stati terzi che si trovano in situazioni analoghe. Infatti, coloro per i quali la procedura di divorzio sia iniziata prima del trasferimento del coniuge in un altro Stato membro mantengono il diritto di soggiorno nello Stato ospitante sulla base dell'art. 13, par. 2, della Direttiva, mentre i cittadini di Stati terzi il cui coniuge si trasferisca prima di proporre la domanda di divorzio perdono tale diritto. Nel concreto, quindi, il diverso trattamento si fonderà esclusivamente sulla scelta del coniuge di trasferirsi prima o dopo la proposizione della domanda di divorzio.

La decisione può dirsi confermare ulteriormente la tendenza, riscontrabile di recente nelle sentenze della Corte, ad interpretare in maniera restrittiva le disposizioni della direttiva sulla libera circolazione concernenti i requisiti necessari per ottenere e mantenere il diritto di soggiorno in uno Stato membro diverso da quello di cittadinanza. Questa tendenza potrebbe forse trovare una spiegazione nella instabilità economica degli ultimi anni nonché nella crescente portata dei flussi migratori, fattori che paiono aver fatto sorgere il timore, specialmente in alcuni Stati membri, che le differenti condizioni economiche e sociali tra Stati dell'Unione diano adito al fenomeno del cosiddetto turismo sociale, con conseguente esigenza di limitare la portata dei diritti conferiti dal diritto dell’UE anche laddove, come nel caso di specie, non ve ne sarebbe una valida giustificazione.

(Sara Tramarin)


La (non) tutela dei diritti dei minori in due ultime pronunce della Corte di giustizia

Con due recenti pronunce la Corte di giustizia si è nuovamente confrontata con il delicato tema della protezione dei minori e la rilevanza dell’art. 24 della Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’UE. Da un lato, infatti, la Corte è solita non far alcun riferimento all’art. 24 della Carta dei diritti fondamentali (12012P/TXT) per supportare il proprio ragionamento, finendo spesso, quindi, per adottare decisioni che non tengono in considerazione le specifiche esigenze dei minori coinvolti; dall’altro, quando la Corte cita l’art. 24 la tutela che ne deriva per i minori è unicamente astratta.

Un esempio è il caso A c. B (ECLI:EU:C:2015:479) che vedeva contrapposti due coniugi. Nello specifico, il marito, A, aveva intrapreso, da un lato, un procedimento volto a definire le modalità di esercizio della responsabilità genitoriale sui tre figli minori in Inghilterra (Paese nel quale la famiglia aveva sempre risieduto); dall’altro, aveva chiesto in Italia, Paese di cui entrambi i genitori erano cittadini, la separazione dalla moglie, offrendosi di versare un determinato importo per il mantenimento dei figli. Su quest’ultimo punto è sorta la controversia che è poi approdata di fronte alla Corte di giustizia in quanto, in materia di domanda relativa alle obbligazioni alimentari nei confronti dei figli, il Reg. UE 4/2009 (32009R0004), non era sufficientemente chiaro nello stabilire se la stessa potesse essere accessoria sia ad un’azione relativa al divorzio e alla separazione, sia ad un’azione relativa alla responsabilità genitoriale, oppure solamente a quest’ultima. Al riguardo, merita ricordare che criteri di attribuzione della competenza previsti dall’articolo 3, lettere c) e d), del Regolamento n. 4/2009 sono legati dalla congiunzione “o” e ciò rendeva la loro interpretazione equivocabile.

La Corte di giustizia ha rilevato, innanzitutto, che le disposizioni del Reg. n. 2201/2003 (32003R2201) differenziano le questioni e i criteri di competenza giurisdizionale in materia di responsabilità genitoriale da quelli riguardanti il contenzioso in materia di divorzio e separazione personale: i primi, difatti, si formano all’interesse superiore del minore e, in particolare, al criterio di vicinanza; i secondi, tengono principalmente conto della residenza attuale o precedente dei coniugi o di uno di loro. Secondo la Corte di giustizia, gli obblighi alimentari nei confronti dei figli rientrano, per loro natura, tra i doveri dei genitori verso i figli e non riguardano i rapporti tra i coniugi e quindi sono legati all’azione per responsabilità genitoriale. Ciò sarebbe confermato anche dal fatto che, tra gli obiettivi perseguiti dal Regolamento n. 4/2009, vi è quello di preservare gli interessi dei creditori di alimenti ovvero, nel caso di specie, dei figli minori. Indubbiamente, a parere della Corte, il giudice “nella posizione migliore” per tutelarli, nell’ambito della valutazione di una domanda di mantenimento, può essere solo quello competente in materia di responsabilità genitoriale in quanto tale giudice è l’unico ad aver presente la situazione familiare. Inoltre, tale soluzione appare la migliore anche perché il giudice competente in materia di responsabilità genitoriale viene designato dal Reg. 2201/2003, come si è detto, in base a regole incentrate sul rispetto del principio di vicinanza. Secondo la Corte di giustizia, in conclusione, possono sussistere in due Stati membri due tipi di procedimenti, ovvero uno relativo allo scioglimento del vincolo coniugale e l’altro in materia di responsabilità genitoriale, ma la domanda relativa ad un’obbligazione alimentare nei confronti dei figli può essere unicamente accessoria all’azione relativa alla responsabilità genitoriale.

L’avvocato Generale, Yves Bot, e la Corte di giustizia concordano sull’importanza da attribuire al principio della vicinanza in materia giurisdizionale, ma il primo si spinge oltre nella tutela dei fanciulli coinvolti, mostrando una maggiore aderenza alla realtà dei fatti. Secondo Bot, infatti, bisogna partire dalla considerazione che sia il Regolamento n. 2201/2003, sia il Regolamento n. 4/2009 devono essere interpretati alla luce dell’art. 24 della Carta dei diritti fondamentali e ciò porta a ritenere che, a differenza di quanto affermato dalla Corte di giustizia, la domanda sul mantenimento dei figli debba essere considerata accessoria al giudizio di separazione, evitando, così, una suddivisione di competenze che creerebbe, ad avviso di Bot, dei ritardi pregiudizievoli per i minori visto che la loro sorte, in merito al mantenimento, rimarrebbe indefinita nell’attesa che i due diversi giudici si coordinino. Ferma restando, dunque, la competenza del giudice della separazione ad occuparsi del mantenimento dei figli minori, Bot utilizza il principio dell’interesse superiore del minore come criterio per limitare la libertà di scelta di detto giudice ad opera dei genitori, circoscrivendolo a quello della residenza abituale dei coniugi e, dunque, dell’intera famiglia, minori compresi, in ossequio al principio di vicinanza. La Corte di giustizia, dal canto suo, rimane ancorata ad un concetto di superiore interesse del minore molto astratto, poco attinente alla realtà dei fatti, mostrandosi restia a derogare a regole di competenza o semplicemente a limitare, come nel caso di specie, la libertà di scelta del giudice competente ad opera dei genitori anche quando ciò gli sarebbe stato imposto unicamente per tutelare l’interesse superiore dei loro figli.

L’altro caso che si vuole qui sottolineare è il caso Alimanovic (ECLI:EU:C:2015:210), successivo al precedente caso Dano (ECLI:EU:C:2014:2358) e sempre in materia di diritto alle prestazioni sociali. In entrambi questi casi la Corte di giustizia afferma, in maniera implicita in Dano ed esplicita in Alimanovic, che le competenti autorità nazionali dello Stato membro ospitante non devono tenere in considerazione la situazione familiare dei cittadini europei di un altro Stato membro, ivi richiedenti assistenza sociale, anche se in tali nuclei familiari monoparentali sono presenti minori. Nessun accenno, infatti, viene fatto alla situazione pregiudizievole in cui si sarebbero ritrovati i figli minori dopo il rifiuto delle autorità nazionali di garantire un sussidio alla famiglia, né la Corte ha valutato la necessità di domandare ai giudici a quo di rivedere le proprie decisioni alla luce dell’art. 24 della Carta e del principio di proporzionalità, bilanciando equamente i vari interessi in gioco.

Nella sentenza Alimanovic, in particolare, la Corte non considera la madre, che aveva lavorato insieme alla figlia maggiore in Germania, in qualità di principale figura di accudimento dei fanciulli. Tale aspetto è stato, invece, affrontato dall’Avvocato generale Melchior Wathelet, il quale, facendo riferimento a pronunce più risalenti della stessa Corte di giustizia (ECLI:EU:C:2012:538 e ECLI:EU:C:2010:83), sottolinea che i figli del cittadino di uno Stato membro che lavori o abbia lavorato nello Stato membro ospitante e il genitore che ne abbia l’effettivo affidamento possono avvalersi, in quest’ultimo Stato, di un diritto di soggiorno sul solo fondamento dell’articolo 10 del Reg. 492/2011 (32011R0492), derivante, cioè, dal diritto dei minori di accedere all’educazione, senza che siffatto diritto sia soggetto alla condizione che essi dispongano di risorse sufficienti.

Il caso Alimanovic è stato deciso, indubbiamente, in un periodo storico in cui la tematica dell’immigrazione è all’ordine del giorno in Europa, ma non per questo si ritiene giustificabile tale battuta di arresto nell’affermazione del diritti fondamentali dei minori nell’ordinamento dell’Unione europea.

(Mia Magli)


The ECJ clarifies the rules on representation of the EU “before” international tribunals

Which body of the EU should represent it in proceedings before an international tribunal? That was the question which the ECJ had to answer in case C-73/14 (ECLI:EU:C:2015:663). The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) had been requested an advisory opinion. The European Commission held (i) that the EU should make submissions in those proceedings and that, as a matter of EU law, the Commission was the competent body (ii) it would decide upon their content and (iii) it would actually make them. The Council disagreed (at least) on the two former points, being of the view that those actions were within the competence of the Council rather than the Commission’s. After the Commission had, without an approval of the Council, made the submissions which it deemed appropriate to ITLOS, the Council brought proceedings before the ECJ to have the Commission’s decision to make those submissions annulled. The Council (supported by ten member states) alleged that the Commission violated Arts 13(2) and 16(1) TEU and Art. 218(9) TFEU.

The ECJ decided that the Commission was entitled to do what it did. Firstly, the Commission has, as a matter of EU law, the right of audience to represent the EU before international tribunals. That is so by virtue of a general principle of which Art. 335 TFEU is a specific expression (paragraphs 58-59 of the judgment). Secondly, such right of audience does not, however, automatically mean that the Commission has the competence to decide whether to make submissions to an international tribunal and what their content should be (paragraph 60 of the judgment). Thirdly, in the situation at issue the Commission was competent to decide whether to make submissions to an international tribunal and what their content should be. In doing so it did not violate the institutional balance of the EU (Art. 13(2) TEU): neither Art. 16(1) TEU nor Art. 218(9) TFEU gave the Council the competence to make those two decisions. Most notably, Art. 16(1) TEU merely gives the Council a policy-making competence. In making submissions to ITLOS the Commission did not seek to formulate any policy; it merely presented some legal observations on the basis of existing EU and international law (paragraph 71 of the judgment). While the submissions on the jurisdiction and admissibility might be political, they are “characteristic of participation in proceedings before a court” and therefore incapable of amounting to policy-making (paragraphs 72 and 73 of the judgment). Art. 218(9) TFEU, instead, grants the Council the competence to determine the EU’s positions “in” an international body whilst here the Commission formulated and expressed the EU’s position “before” an international body. “In” assumes that the EU participates in the adoption of that international body’s act; in the case of an international tribunal that is patently not the case; the tribunal alone adopts the decision (paragraphs 63-66 of the judgment). Lastly, before making submissions to an international tribunal the Commission nevertheless has to consult the Council pursuant to Art. 13(2) TEU. Something which the Commission did indeed do (paragraphs 86-88 of the judgment).

Does the Commission’s duty of consultation extend to disclosing its proposed submissions in full to all member states in advance so that the member states can take the EU’s submissions into account in formulating their own? The Council accused the Commission of not doing that (paragraph 80 of the judgment), but the ECJ opined that the Commission did take into account the concerns which the member states had expressed on the basis of the information which the Commission had supplied to the Council about the proposed submissions (paragraph 88). What is unclear is whether no such duty of full disclosure exists or whether the ECJ deemed it to have been met in the instant case.

The judgment might perhaps be criticised for opting for a Lotus-type solution: the Commission was victorious because all pleas submitted by the Council were rejected (paragraphs 67, 76, 77 and 89 of the judgment). The Commission did not violate Arts 13(2) and 16(1) TEU and Art. 218(9) TFEU. No other violation was alleged. In turn, the ECJ did not clarify (i) the Commission’s material competence and (ii) the relevant legal basis. It seems to have merely suggested in paragraph 60 that it could not derive from article 335 TFEU.

(Dmitri Zdobnõh)


How far can the principle of effectiveness be used to harmonize European Union criminal law?

The European Court of Justice has never hesitated to affirm that the effectiveness of the EU law cannot vary according the various jurisdictions of national law. This has led to a considerable process of harmonisation of national criminal laws.

In Ivo Taricco and Others (ECLI:EU:C:2015:555) the Court has taken a further step forward in the harmonisation of the EU criminal law, by pointing out that Italian law is liable to affect the financial interests of the European Union by not preventing the imposition of effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties in cases of serious fraud in relation to VAT, due to the fact that the overall limitation period is too brief.

Briefly, Mr Taricco and several other defendants are alleged to have put in place fraudulent “VAT carousel” legal arrangements, as members of a criminal organisation, with having submitted fraudulent value added tax returns using invoices relating to non-existent transactions.

Some of the charges against Mr Taricco and other individuals are time-barred, and, in all likelihood, the prosecution of the other criminal offences alleged to have been committed will be time-barred by 8 February 2018 at the latest, before a final judgment can be delivered as regards the accused.

Such a de facto impunity in Italy is a normal occurrence, due to the fact that criminal proceedings in relation to tax evasion usually involve very complex investigations and the Italian criminal justice system provides for an absolute limitation period, introduced by a statutory provision of 2005, which, in the event of interruption, is only a quarter longer than the original period; that's insufficient to obtain a final judgement. The suspected tax evaders may, as a result, enjoy de facto impunity because of the expiration of the limitation period.

The ECJ was called upon to consider two important issues in the field of criminal law in the light of a request for a preliminary ruling from an Italian criminal court (Tribunale di Cuneo).

On the one hand, it was asked whether a national rule such as that established by the last subparagraph of Art. 160 of the Italian Penal Code, read in conjunction with Art. 161 of that Code, which provides for an absolute limitation period, introduced by a statutory provision of 2005, which, in the event of interruption, is only a quarter longer than the original period, amounts to an impediment to the effective fight against VAT evasion in the Member State concerned, in a manner incompatible with Directive 2006/112, and, more generally, with EU law.

On the other hand, the ECJ was requested to evaluate if the disapplication of the national provisions at issue is compatible with the fundamental rights of the persons concerned, as guaranteed by Art. 49 of the Charter, which enshrines the principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties.

By its judgement, as far as the first question is concerned, the Court points out that Art. 325 TFEU obliges the Member States to counter illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the European Union and, according to Directive 2006/112, read in conjunction with Art. 4(3) TEU, the Member States are to take effective, deterrent and proportionate measures and, in particular, are to take the same measures to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the European Union as they take to counter fraud affecting their own interests (principle of assimilation as stated in ECLI:EU:C:2013:105).

In addition, the Court states that there is a direct link between the collection of VAT revenue and the financial interests of European Union, owing to the fact that the European Union's own resources include revenue from application of a uniform rate to the harmonised VAT assessment bases determined according to EU rules. Consequently, the Member States, in order to ensure that all VAT revenue is collected and that the financial interests of the European Union are protected must ensure that such cases of serious fraud are punishable by criminal penalties which are proportionate, effective and dissuasive.

The Court concludes that it is for the referring court to determine whether the applicable national provisions, by introducing a rule according to which the limitation period may in no case be extended by more than a quarter of its initial duration, allow the effective and dissuasive penalisation of cases of serious fraud affecting the financial interests of the European Union.

The Italian law would be contrary to Art. 325 TFEU if the Italian Court were to conclude that the applicable national provisions would have the effect, given the complexity and duration of the criminal proceedings leading to the adoption of a final judgment, in a considerable number of cases of serious fraud affecting the financial interests of the European Union, of exempting offenders from punishment, since the offences will usually be time-barred before the criminal penalty laid down by law can be imposed by a final judicial decision.

On the other hand, the Court points out that if the national court concludes that Art. 325 TFEU is infringed, it must ensure that the EU law is given full effect. That result can be achieved, if need be, by disapplying the provisions inconsistent with EU law.

The Court also underlines that if the national Court decides to disapply the national provisions at issue, it must ensure that the fundamental rights of the persons concerned are respected.

In that regard, the Court states that the disapplication of the provisions concerning the interruption and suspension of the limitation period would not infringe the rights of the accused, as guaranteed by Art. 49 of the Charter, for the reason that the acts which the accused are alleged to have committed constituted, at the time when they were committed, the same offence and were punishable by the same criminal penalties as those applicable at present; it would just change the date on which the limitation period expires. According to the case-law of the ECtHR on Art. 7 ECHR, the period of time within which a criminal offence may be prosecuted can still be altered even after the offence has been committed, so long as the limitation period has not expired.

In accordance with the Greek maize line of jurisprudence (ECLI:EU:C:1989:339), the Court underlines that the Member States are to take the necessary measures to ensure that conduct constituting fraud affecting the European Union’s financial interests is punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties, including, at least in cases of serious fraud, penalties involving deprivation of liberty.

The principle of effectiveness is a key principle to ensure the enforcement of European Union law in national legal orders.

In the field of criminal justice the principle under discussion has also arisen in the context of the justification of EU competence to legislate. This can be seen from Art. 83(2) TFEU, according to which the possibility exists for harmonisation if that proves essential to ensure the effective implementation of an EU policy in an area which has already been subject to harmonisation measures. This represents to a large extent a codification of Case C-176/03 with its interpretation of the principle of effectiveness. Even in these cases the legislator has codified principles which had been stated by the ECJ.

This judgement marks a new stage in this direction, by pointing out that the criminal procedural law, which is inconsistent with the principle of effectiveness of penalties used for the punishment of those who commit crimes affecting the European Union's financial interests, should be disapplied.

The Court seems to use the principle of effectiveness of criminal laws to harmonize criminal laws of EU Member States with a view to ensuring the functioning of the internal market and advancing the European integration. Is this a further step towards the creation of a common EU criminal law?

(Costanza Di Francesco Maesa)


Eventi Passati - Past Events


Prossimi Eventi - Upcoming Events


Pubblicazioni - Publications

C. Tovo, Le agenzie decentrate dell'Unione europea, Editoriale Scientifica, Napoli, 2016, ISBN 978-88-6342-855-1, XVIII-474 pp.

Abstract

The book, written in Italian, aims to provide a comprehensive overview of EU decentralised agencies as a coherent form of institutional actor, to define their role in the EU executive sphere and to highlight the “dynamic unbalances” underpinning the EU agencification process. 

The book explores the major challenges related to this process and the main “constitutional divides” which will shape the future of EU agencies system. First, it offers an in-depth analysis of the distinguish features of EU agencies’ model and examines their legality with regard to the Treaties and the general principles of EU law. Second, the book considers the rationale and governance of EU agencies, in the light of the balance between Member States representation and agencies’ institutional and functional autonomy. Third, the book investigates the powers conferred to EU agencies, the forms of judicial, administrative, financial and political control on their exercise and the functional, procedural and democratic factors of agencies’ legitimacy.

The book underlines the contribution of EU agencies to the European integration process, thanks to their hybrid nature and to the “intergovernmental philosophy” which inspires their governance and decision-making. At the same time, however, the book emphasizes the risks posed by the dynamic and atypical character of the agencification process to the coherence and “constitutional credentials” of the EU legal order. The conclusions therefore call for the establishment of a common constitutional framework for conferring executive powers to agencies, delimiting the material scope of such a conferral and defining an adequate system of control and accountability, comparable to the one applicable to the Commission. 

The book can be found at http://www.editorialescientifica.com/index.php?option=com_mtree&task=viewlink&link_id=1712&Itemid=0.


G. Di Federico, Defending the rule of law in the European Union: taking stock of the Polish situation, Eurojus.it, 29 January 2016

Abstract

Disquieting internal situations posing a threat to the founding principles of the European Union have recently emerged in the legal orders of the Member States. Suffice it here to mention Rumania, Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary. Poland represents the most recent example. In the past few weeks, a multitude of posts, blogs, and newspaper articles have addressed the issue from a political and legal perspective. The intention of this author is to contribute to the debate on the viability of the EU’s “rule of law mechanism” from a legal standpoint. Based on the first concrete steps taken against the Polish government pursuant to the European Commission’s Communication “A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law", this brief essay reviewes the changes introduced in the Polish legal order and critically assesses how the Commission has confronted the situation under the Communication of March 2014.


A cura di - Edited by

Giacomo di Federico

col supporto di - with the support of:


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