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98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 278/11

ORDER OF THE COURT Action brought on 7 May 1998 by the Commission of the
European Communities against the French Republic
of 7 July 1998
(Case C-169/98)
in Joined Cases C-405/96 to C-408/96 (reference for a
preliminary ruling from the Tribunal d'Instance de Saint- (98/C 278/20)
Denis de la ReÂunion): SocieÂte Beton Express and Others v.
Direction ReÂgionale de la ReÂunion (1)

(Article 104(3) of the Rules of Procedure Ð Manifestly An action against the French Republic was brought before
identical question) the Court of Justice of the European Communities on
7 May 1998 by the Commission of the European
(98/C 278/19) Communities, represented by Peter Hillenkamp, Legal
Adviser, and HeÂleÁne Michard, of its Legal Service, acting
as Agents, with an address for service in Luxembourg at
the office of Carlos Gómez de la Cruz, Wagner Centre,
(Language of the case: French) Kirchberg.

The Commission of the European Communities claims
(Provisional translation; the definitive translation will be that the Court should:
published in the European Court Reports)

Ð declare that, in applying the general social
contribution (GSC) to the income from employment or
In Joined Cases C-405/96 to C-408/96: reference to the
income substitution benefit of workers who are
Court under Article 177 of the EC Treaty from the
resident in France but who, by virtue of Regulation
Tribunal d'Instance de Saint-Denis de la ReÂunion (France)
(EEC) No 1408/71 (1), are not subject to French social
for a preliminary ruling in the proceedings pending before
security legislation, France has failed to fulfil its
that court between SocieÂte Beton Express (Case C-405/
obligations under Articles 48 to 52 of the EC Treaty
96), SocieÂte Nouvelle de Concassage (Case C-406/96),
and Article 13 of that Regulation,
SocieÂte Bourbon LumieÁre (Case C-407/96) and SocieÂteÂ
Ouest Concassage (Case 408/96) and Direction ReÂgionale
des Douanes de la ReÂunion Ð Intervener: ReÂgion ReÂu-
nion, on the interpretation of Articles 9, 12 and 95 of the Ð order the French Republic to pay the costs.
EC Treaty Ð the Court, composed of: G. C. Rodríguez
Iglesias, President, C. Gulmann, H. Ragnemalm, M.
Wathelet and R. Schintgen, Presidents of Chambers, G. F.
Mancini, J. C. Moitinho de Almeida, P. J. G. Kapteyn, J. L. Pleas in law and main arguments adduced in support:
Murray, D. A. O. Edward (Rapporteur), J.-P. Puissochet,
G. Hirsch, P. Jann, L. Sevón and K. M. Ioannou, Judges;
A. Saggio, Advocate-General; R. Grass, Registrar, made an According to the Commission, the levying of the general
order on 7 July 1998, the operative part of which is as social contribution (hereinafter the GSC') on employees'
follows: income from employment or income substitution benefit
derived from professional activity in another Member
State constitutes a twofold social levy contrary both to the
provisions of Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71, and
Council Decision 89/688/EEC of 22 December 1989 Article 13 thereof in particular, and to Articles 48 to 52 of
concerning the dock dues in the French overseas the Treaty concerning freedom of movement for workers
departments must be interpreted as meaning that it within the Community.
precludes exemptions which are of a general or systematic
nature and which are therefore liable to lead to the
reintroduction of a tax having an effect equivalent to a
customs duty. On the other hand, Decision 89/688/EEC The Commission points out that, according to the
authorises exemptions which are necessary, proportional consistent case-law of the Court of Justice, the designation
and precisely determined and which fulfil the strict of a tax, charge, levy, contribution or fee must be
conditions laid down by Article 2(3) of that Decision, as examined in the light of the objective characteristics of the
interpreted in the light of the limits provided for in levy concerned, irrespective of the designation given to it
Article 226 of the EC Treaty. by the Member State in question.

(1) OJ C 54, 22.2.1997.
In this case, account should be taken, first, of the purpose
and use made of the levy and, second, of the arrangements
for the collection and charging of the contribution in