European law in our everyday’s life!

European Law may seem very abstract and far to us; however, it is very present in everyday’s life. This article will demonstrate how the very broad concept such as freedom of goods can have direct repercussions on our daily shopping.

How do you like your beer?

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How do we explain the price of the Belgian Stella Artois beer in Sainsbury’s, £1.43 the bottle, compared to the British Abbot Ale, £1.48? How can a Belgian beer, supposedly imported to the United Kingdom be eventually cheaper than a national one? European laws seem to us as remote concepts regulating the far- fetched fields of law; however, they have enormous invisible impacts on our everyday’s life.

Article 14 of the Treaty of the European Union indicates that an “internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the treaty” (Craig and De Burca, 2008). To focus our article on goods such as beers, article 28 and 29 of the Treaty prohibits any measure by an EU member state directly attempting to restrict, limit or simply interfere with the freedom of movement of imported or exported goods. In addition, according to Procureur du Roi v. Dassonville (case 8/74, [1974] ECR 837), any trading rules having the effect of restricting the freedom of goods would be proscribed by the European Union, even if they are indistinctly applicable to all domestic and imported goods. The Members states may however be able to protect certain rules through article 30 of the treaty as long as the rule has a legitimate aim and answer to the criteria of necessity and proportionality.
For example if we go back to the beer example, before 1974, Germany banned any beer containing additives on Public Health grounds. Although this rule was applied to all goods irrespective of their origin, it would indirectly discriminate certain imported beers which would be naturally manufactured with additives (Case 178/84 Commission v. Germany [1987] ECR 1227). In this case, the defence of the state claiming Public Health grounds failed on a failure to comply with the proportionality criterion. As a result the European Court of Justice on a preliminary ruling, declared that this particular rule was discriminating against those types of beers and consequently, infringing article 28 on the freedom of movement of goods.
Freedom of workers, goods, services and capital is one of the core foundations of the European laws and can be illustrated in everyday’s life simply buying our beer in our local supermarket!
Ariane AMADO

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