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Brussels 4 September 2014 How EEA law is interpreted Gunnar SELVIK Registrar EFTA Court

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Presentation on theme: "Brussels 4 September 2014 How EEA law is interpreted Gunnar SELVIK Registrar EFTA Court"— Presentation transcript:

1 Brussels 4 September 2014 How EEA law is interpreted Gunnar SELVIK Registrar EFTA Court

2 General points on the EFTA Court  Established as a part of the EEA cooperation  the adjudication role  Independent international Court with clearly defined competences  Seated in Luxembourg

3 The original model: A Joint EEA Court  5 judges from the ECJ - 3 judges from the EFTA states Competence to decide all EEA cases with binding effect for both EFTA and EU  ECJ’s Opinion 1/91 turned it down as it would: Entail a transfer of competence from the ECJ Interfere with the ECJ’s exclusive competence to interpret EU law Contradict the EC Treaty

4 The current model: A separate EFTA Court  The EFTA Court interprets the EEA agreement in the EFTA states  The EU Courts interpret the EEA agreement in the EU states

5 EEA COUNCIL Ministers of EU and EFTA EEA states EEA JOINT COMMITTEE EEAS, Commission and EU and EFTA government representatives EEA JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE * MPs from the EFTA parliaments and MEPs EEA CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE * EU COUNCIL EEAS+EUROPEAN COMMISSION Commission Services EU COURTS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT EP Secretariat EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE (EESC) EESC Secretariat THE TWO PILLAR STRUCTURE UNDER THE EEA AGREEMENT ICELAND LIECHTENSTEIN NORWAY EFTA STANDING COMMITTEE* EFTA Secretariat EFTA SURVEILLANCE AUTHORITY EFTA COURT COMMITTEE OF MPs OF THE EFTA STATES EFTA Secretariat EFTA CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE EFTA Secretariat * Switzerland has observer status

6 Legal basis  EEA agreement article 108(2): provides that the EFTA States shall establish the EFTA Court  Surveillance and Court Agreement (SCA) article 27: the legal basis for the establishment of the EFTA Court  Protocol 5 SCA: Statutes  Rules of Procedure  Instructions to the Registrar

7 Organisation of the EFTA Court  3 judges Each EFTA state nominates one judge  One cabinet per judge, legal secretaries and personal assistants  Registrar responsible for procedural questions and for the administration of the Court  No Advocate General (≠ ECJ)  No General Court (≠ ECJ)

8 Organigram Ms Sharon WORTELBOER Adm. Assistant UK/LUX Mr Carl BAUDENBACHER Judge / President CH Ms Kerstin Schwiesow Personal Assistant GER Mr Michael James CLIFTON Legal Secretary (temp) UK Mr Salim GUETTAF Man. premises FRA Mr Páll HREINSSON Judge ICE Mr Per CHRISTIANSEN Judge NOR Ms Mary COX, Info/Comm Coord UK Ms Giulia PREDONZANI Research Lawyer (temp) ITA Ms Bryndis PALMARSDÓTTIR Transl./Adm.Officer ICE Ms Hrafnhildur EYJÓLFSDÓTTIR Personal Assistant ICE Ms Silje NÆSHEIM Personal Assistant NOR Mr Philipp SPEITLER Legal Secretary GER Mr Kjartan BJÖRGVINSSON Legal Secretary ICE Mr Jørgen REINHOLDTSEN Legal Secretary NOR Ms Harriet BRUHN Adm. & Fin. Officer NOR Mr Gunnar SELVIK Registrar NOR Mr Tomasz Mazur Adm.&Fin. Assistant (temp) POL

9 Types of cases Direct Actions (DA) Infringement actions vs. EFTA States: -Initiated by ESA (art 31 SCA) -Initiated by another EFTA State (art 32 SCA) Infringement actions vs. ESA: -Validity of ESA’s decisions (art 31 SCA) -ESA’s failure to act (art 37 SCA) -Liability of ESA (art 39 SCA) Parties: ESA, EFTA States and in some cases private entities Advisory Opinions (AO)

10 Advisory Opinions  Who? ”..any court or tribunal in an EFTA-State..” - Art 34(2) SCA (wider term than traditional courts)  When? ”Where... that court or tribunal considers it necessary to enable it to give judgment..” - Art 34(2) SCA (similar to ECJ’s preliminary rulings)  Effect? Always followed, but formally speaking not binding for national courts (≠ ECJ’s preliminary rulings) ► Norwegian Surpreme Court in Finanger case:”…must be given considerable weight...” (repeated in the STX case: ”..special reasons required to deviate from it... ”) ► National courts’ incorrect interpretation of the EEA agreement is in principle a breach of treaty obligations

11  Main focus on written procedure  Usually followed by an oral hearing  Right to make written observations and to participate in the oral hearing:  EFTA states, EU states, ESA, Commission and also private parties (in certain cases) Procedure

12 The Relationship between the EU Courts and the EFTA Court  Article 105(2,3) EEA – formal equality  Art. 6 EEA and Art. 3 SCA: EEA to be interpreted in conformity with the relevant case law of the ECJ  EFTA Court following the ECJ  EFTA Court goes first  EFTA Court rulings on EEA specific problems

13 Statistics (case load) Incoming cases  Total 1994–2014:  Annual average:  ”Low point”:  ”High point”: →216 cases (56% DA/44% AO) →≈ 10,5 cases → 2 cases (1999) → 30 cases (2013) Case handling time: 6-8 months (ECJ: months)

14  Court Diary  Composition of the Court  Legal Sources regarding the Court  Decided and Pending Cases  Yearly Reports of the Court as from 2004  Contact Info:

15

16 Advisory Opinions – , rue du Fort Thüngen, L-1499 Luxembourg 5

17 Direct Actions – , rue du Fort Thüngen, L-1499 Luxembourg 3


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