‘Not-so-mainstream’ pending cases (I)
I am coming off the bench to replace Alfonso (fans do not worry: it is all temporary, and the All-Star blogger will be back and kicking very soon!).
When he asked me to prepare a post, I thought it would be a good idea to write on pending cases before EU courts with which our readers are maybe less familiar, but that raise most interesting issues nonetheless. Those who know me will not be surprised to know that it is once again all about electronic communications.
Today’s post is on a reference from a preliminary ruling coming from a Dutch court (Case C-518/11), that I find most intriguing. According to the information found on the website of the Court, the hearing took place on 22 November 2012.
The Gerechtshof te Amsterdam submitted a list of eight (very detailed) questions. It seems that the municipality of Hilversum included a ‘tariff-limiting clause’ when it sold its cable television activities to a third party. This factual scenario raises important questions relating to the scope of the Regulatory Framework for electronic communications and others relating to the scope of Article 101 TFEU.
- Scope of the Regulatory Framework: The Dutch court asks whether the provision of cable television services to end-users is subject to the Regulatory Framework and whether the fact for the municipality to cap retail tariffs is compatible with the sector-specific regime. This question is relevant not so much because of the (predictable) outcome but because it shows that the artificial content/network divide found in the Regulatory Framework is plain impracticable in the current technological landscape.
- Scope of Article 101(1) TFEU: Is it contrary to Article 101(1) TFEU to impose tariff-related conditions when selling a business? Because the seller in this case is a municipality, an array of sub-questions come to mind. Is the municipality engaged in an economic activity when imposing such conditions? Is this conduct contrary to ‘the obligation of Union loyalty’ (as drafted in the questions)? This set of questions is probably more interesting from a substantive perspective, at least so because the chances of an unexpected outcome are probably higher.
Another post on another not-so-mainstream case will follow soon!