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1. Casis de Dijon……………………………………………………………………………………………

2. Stakeholders………………………………………………………………………………………………

3. Objectives………………………………………………………………………………………………….

4. Communication Statement………………………………………………………………………..

5. Consequences…………………………………………………………………………………………….



In this paper we will talk about the “Cassis de Dijon”. Cassis de Dijon is a French
liqueur manufactured from black currants. Cassis contains 15%-20% alcohol and
the German standards prescribed 25%. For the Germans the percentage of
alcohol became a problem as it wasn’t their standards.

Cassis de Dijon

In the "Cassis de Dijon" case, the European Court of Justice struck down a
German import prohibition. The prohibition disallowed the import, sale and/or
marketing of liqueurs in Germany that didn't meet minimum German alcohol
standards of 25 %. The ruling gave the European Commission an opportunity to
develop the principle of "mutual recognition."

In February 1979, the European Court of Justice struck down a German

prohibition on imports from other European Union (EU) countries. The prohibition
banned the importation of alcoholic beverages that did not meet minimum
alcohol content requirements. The case involved Cassis de Dijon, a French liqueur
manufactured from black currants. Cassis contains 15%-20% alcohol and the
German standards prescribed 25%. Rowe-Zentral AG, a German import/export
firm, brought suit charging that the German regulation on minimum alcohol
contents was an illegal non-tariff barrier.

The German government argued the validity of its regulation primarily on health
grounds, claiming that the law existed to avoid the proliferation of alcoholic
beverages within the German market. It argued that beverages with low
alcoholic content induce a tolerance toward alcoholism more so than highly
alcoholic beverages. Germany also offered a consumer protection justification
claiming there was a need to protect consumers from unfair producer and
distributor practices. In its final argument, the German government argued that
the elimination of the import ban would mean that one country could set the
standards for all member states, thus precipitating a lowering of standards
throughout the EU.

After the case was brought against the German courts, the European Court of
Justice ruled that because Cassis met French standards, it could not be kept out
of the German market.
The European Court rejected the German health argument as unconvincing and
dismissed the its consumer protection justification. After rejecting the German
defense claims, the
Court spelled out the general principle, which is now the most famous part of the
ruling: "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 Court ruled that barriers to trade were allowed only to satisfy mandatory
requirements relating to the effectiveness of fiscal supervision, the protection of
public health, the fairness of commercial transactions and the defense of the
consumer. When these conditions are threatened and import prohibitions are
found to be valid, the EU's Commission would provide minimum standards in the
form of a directive. Member states would then be obliged to harmonize their
standards to meet the criteria set out in Commission directives.

Cassis gained notoriety when a political debate was instigated by the

Commission. The Commission extracted the aspects of the ruling that were
useful for eliminating nontariff

trade barriers. In the Fall of 1979 Etienne Davignon, the internal market
commissioner, suggested in front of the EU Parliament that trade policy should
take a new direction based on the Cassis ruling.

The Official Journal of the European Communities states, "Any product imported
from another member state must in principle be admitted...if it has been lawfully
produced, that is, conforms to rules and processes of manufacture that are
customarily and traditionally accepted in the exporting country."



• Company producing the Cassis de Dijon – They were of course affected,

but since they won the case in the end everything worked out for them.
They were able to sell their liquor in other countries after the court decided
on the case.

• The company in Germany who was going to sell the liquor – They were the
second of the major parties involved in this case and of course they were
affected by it. Now the liquor actually could be sold in their store and in the
same classification as other liquors, even though the percentage was
lower. The German law no longer restricted them for selling the Cassis de
Dijon there.

• Countries involved – Germany and France were the countries involved,

since France was the country producing the liquor and Germany the
country that they wanted to export it to. After the case the regulations in
the countries changed.

• Consumers of the liquor – The consumers here refers primarily to the

consumers in Germany. Since the consumers in France already could
consume it without any restrictions this did not affect them. But the ones
in Germany were because of the precious restriction and after the case
now could consume it.

• Others affected by the principle – Since this case actually evolved into a
principle a lot of more people were affected. The principle says that
anything that is produced in one member state can be sold legally to other
member states as well. So other companies that have been restricted
before can now sell their product in other countries.

• People in Germany who were defending the standard – When defending

the case to why it should not be classified as liquor, Germany said that it
was for health-reasons. That if it is called liquor with that low percentage

for alcohol, people will be consuming more of it since it is so low. And in
Germany there were probably people defending this and seeing it as a
problem. For them this new legislation is against what they believe in.



There are ways in which the European court of justice often creates exceptions to
its broad general principles, so the Cassis de Dijon case has caused many
problems to the European court of justice because now member states seek to
justify their restrictions, while the traders attempt to attack any national laws
which restrict trade practices or commercial freedom. But on the other hand, this
case assists to clarify the principle of the free movement of goods under Articles
28 (formerly 30) and 29 (formerly 34) and its exception under Article 30 (formerly
36) of the Treaty on European Union.

There are two principles of laws arising from this case.

1. Principle of Equivalence. The European court justice stated that:

“ There is 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 be
subject to a legal prohibition on the marketing of beverages with an alcoholic
content lower than the limit set by national rules.”

This principle provides that if a product meets the standards of member state of
export, that product should be regarded also as meeting the standards of the
member state of import. This principle is also confirmed in the case of Italy v.
Nespoli and on some other cases. The European court justice in this case held
that as a general rule, if the imports are lawfully manufactured and marketed in
one member state, they are entitled to enter another member state without
obstacles, restrictions and measures having an equivalent effect.

This Examines how the European Union rules on the free movement of goods,
showing that the European Court of Justice has established an approach to
disputes balancing the interests of producers and consumers while giving
manufacturers and traders a fair hearing.

2. The second is the Principle of the Rule of Reason:

The European court justice in Cassis de Dijon held that in case of no community
legislation, the exceptions of the free movement of goods principle coming from
the disapproval of the national legislations must be accepted if those exceptions
are necessary to satisfy the mandatory requirements relating in particular to the
effectiveness of fiscal supervision; the protection of public health; the fairness of
commercial transactions; and the defense of the consumer.

Also this is confirmed in another case. In German Sausages case, Commission v.

Germany; the facts were German law prohibited the sale of sausages containing
additives in Germany. This law applied to both German products and products
from other European Union member states, even though, the additives were not
prohibited by the law of origin in member state. The European court justice held
that the ban was an unlawful restriction under Article 28 (formerly 30) and could
not justified under the rule of reason because consumers could be adequately
protected by means of proper labelling of products.

The European court justice has narrowly interpreted these exceptions by saying
that the restriction of trade must not be discriminatory in goods originating in one
member state from those of the others. Also, it must not be discriminatory in
domestic goods from the goods imported from the member states.


It is explicit that although the objective and the provisions of the European Union
Treaty confirm the free movement of goods notion, the freedom to move goods
across border without any restrictions has still been obstructed.

This is because of two obstacles.

1. The first is the interpretation of the European court justice on the general
provisions of the free movement of goods.
2. Second is the exception provisions contained in Article 30 (formerly 36) of
the Treaty itself and the exceptions based on mandatory requirements
arising from the European court justice in Cassis de Dijon.

These two obstacles make it difficult to have freedom to move goods across
borders. The European court justice and all European Union member states are in
the position to break down these obstacles.

Also the European court justice must interpret the general provisions of the free
movement of goods as widely as possible. For example the European court
justice when defining "goods" it should cover both tangible products and
intangible products, like energy. And also apply the free movement of goods
provisions to all types of movements: traders, individuals, commercial
transactions and non-commercial transactions.

For the meaning of "similar" products, the European court justice should interpret
it to cover "substituted products"; for example fish sauce and salt. Furthermore,
the European court justice should clarify the meaning of "selling arrangements"
and draw the vivid distinction between measures relating to selling arrangements
and measures relating to the goods.

The degrees of public morality, public policy, public security, health and life of
humans, animals or plants protection and industrial and commercial property
protection may vary from one member state to another because they are for
each member state to determine in accordance with its own scale of values and
the requirements of protection. However, the European court justice can limit the
scope of their effects by applying the principle of non discrimination and the
principle of proportionality.

The European court justice must narrowly the scope of the meaning of mandatory
requirements, the exceptions arising from Cassis de Dijon because mandatory
requirements create a decrease from the fundamental principle of the free
movement of goods. Therefore, it must be interpreted strictly, not to extend its
effects further than is necessary for the protection of the public interests.
Moreover, it is generally accepted that it is very hard to tell all of which constitute
the mandatory requirements. For example, it is still controversial whether the
protection of culture constitutes the mandatory requirements because the culture
of one member state may be totally different or even opposite from that of the

others. However, the European court justice can limit its scope by applying the
principle of non discrimination and the principle of proportionality to such

In the cases of justification, the European court justice must specify and clarify in
every judgment the ground and reason of the justification whether it is under
Article 30 (formerly 36) or the mandatory requirements. The proof to justify the
restrictions must be rested with member state who seeks to justify their
restrictions. That member state must provide the ground for justification, the
impact assessment of the restrictions and prove that the measures are non
discriminatory and proportionate.

The most significant problems face with the free movement of goods are the
technical barriers arising by the exceptions under European Union Treaty and the
judgments of the European court justice; in the forms of national regulations,
standards for marketing goods and measures for the protection of public health
and safety. So, European Union member states must not exercise trade tactics by
avoiding regulating national laws or setting up standards for imports, exports or
goods in transit which can create the discriminatory restrictions. So, if all
European Union member states and the European court justice jointly work
through these obstacles, then all conflicts can be resolve.


John J. Barcelo III, Philippe Manin and Bernard Rudden. Materials for Introduction
to European Union Law Course. Cornell-Paris I Summer Institute of International
and Comparative Law in Paris, 1999. 9.

Peter Oliver. Free Movement of Goods in The European Community. Third Edition.
London Sweet and Maxwell, 1996. 17.

Paul Craig & Grainne De Burca. EU Law, Text, cases, and Materials. Second
Edition. Oxford University Press, 1998. 16.