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Goods: Quantitative Restrictions

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Goods: Quantitative Restrictions

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Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

  • Article 34 TFEU: prohibits quantitative restrictions (QRs) & measures equivalent to a quantitative restrictions (MEQRs) / imports between Member States
  • Article 35 TFEU: prohibits QRs & MEQRS / exports between Member States
  • goods: items / monetary value / capable of forming the subject-matter of commercial transactions (Art Treasures)


  • .. measures which amount to a total or partial restraint of, according to circumstances, imports, exports or goods in transit... (Geddo v Ente)
  • usually in the form of an outright ban or quotas / licensing (Imports of Milk)
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Goods: Quantitative Restrictions

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Directive 70/60

  • abolished MEQR on imports / expired / guidance scope Article 34 TFEU
  • Article 2: distinctly applicable / treat domestic & imported goods differently
  • Article 3: indistinctly applicable / treat domestic & imported goods equally / have restrictive effect

Dassonville Formula

  • Dassonville: ECJ first defined MEQR / trading rules .. capable of hindering directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, intra-Community trade...
  • MEQR: potential hindrance to trade / no actual hindrance necessary / discrimination on nationality is not part of definition
  • proof of origin: not act as a hindrance / must not arbitrarily discriminate or be a disguised restriction on trade between Member States Article 36 TFEU
  • no de minimus rule / slight / hindrance genuine possibility (Criminal proceedings against Jan van der Haar)

National laws which can be MEQRs

  • laws designed to enforce standards: size / weight / labelling / price / content of goods / tests to ensure standards / capable of influencing conduct traders & consumers
  • Commission v Italy: ban imports of pork / interests Italian pig farmers / distinctly applicable & discriminatory
  • Commission v Ireland: measures which have potential to influence conduct of consumers & traders / even non-binding / if represent Government action
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Goods: Quantitative Restrictions

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Indirect hindrances

  • Dassonville: allows indirect hindrances / in scope Article 34 TFEU
  • Article 37(1) TFEU: States shall adjust any State monopolies of a commercial character / ensure no discrimination conditions under which goods are procured & marketed
  • first Cassis de Dijon principle: reason principle / member state may be able to justify a restrictive law by showing / necessary to satisfy a mandatory requirement / & proportionate aim
  • second Cassis de Dijon principle: mutual recognition principle / product lawfully marketable in one member state / prima facie saleable in all others
  • presumption exists / if national law creates hindrance to trade / no harmonising legislation / state can only rebut via Article 36 TFEU or first Cassis de Dijon principle


  • Re Disposable Beer Cans: ECJ explicitly discusses proportionality / environmental protection is a mandatory requirement
  • Cinéthèque : indistinctly applicable French law was necessary and proportionate aim of encouraging film making & cinemas / not infringe Article 34 TFEU
  • German Beer Purity case: Member State must demonstrate the law is proportionate
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