CJEU - C-221/15 / Opinion Openbaar Ministerie v. Etablissements Fr. Colruyt NV

Key facts of the case:

Directive 2011/64/EU — Excise duties applicable to manufactured tobacco — Retail price of manufactured tobacco — Revenue stamp —Minimum prices — Free movement of goods — Quantitative restrictions — Article 101 TFEU

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

In the light of the foregoing, I propose that the Court should answer the questions referred by the hof van beroep te Brussel (Court of Appeal, Brussels) as follows:

  1. Article 15(1) of Directive 2011/64/EU of 21 June 2011 on the structure and rates of excise duties applied to manufactured tobacco, Article 34 TFEU, and Article 101 TFEU read in conjunction with Article 4(3) TEU, do not preclude a national provision prohibiting price promotions on manufactured tobacco which requires retailers to respect minimum prices by prohibiting the application of a price for tobacco products which is lower than the price on the revenue stamp affixed by the manufacturer or importer.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 
  1. Finally, the referring court also asked the Court to interpret Article 15(1) of Directive 2011/64 in the light of Article 20 (‘Equality before the law’) and 21 (‘Non-discrimination’) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
  2. However, the referring court does not explain why it considers that those provisions might be relevant in the present proceedings. Moreover, I fail to see how the law at issue can be construed as treating comparable situations differently, or as introducing discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, religious and political belief among others.
  3. Consideration of Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter does not therefore alter the result of my assessment.