Quantitative Restrictions and Article 28 EC

A discussion on the meaning of the term “measures equivalent to a quantitative restriction” for the purposes of Article 28 EC.

This paper examines Article 28, while appearing relatively clear on first reading, has proved problematic and therefore produced a string of case law and discussion, which continues on today. It looks at how, in order to define the term “measure equivalent to a quantitative restriction”, (MEQR) one needs to trace the problems and decisions arising from this issue and discusses it in three different sections. It begins with the definition of an MEQR as it stood in the cases prior to Keck and Directive 70/50 and then explores the changes created by the decision in Keck and other cases which followed this judgment. Finally, it examines decisions post Keck and the fact that they have largely regressed to the decisions taken before this case.
“MEQR’s can essentially be split into two categories; those that directly or indirectly discriminate against imported goods, and those that are indistinctly applicable to the sphere of Article 28. In the former category, one of the bigger decisions is that of Dassonville , which continued to be used in many subsequent cases. The case concerned a Belgian law stating goods bearing a designation of origin must be accompanied by a certificate from the government of the exporting country certifying their right to that designation. Dassonville were a French company who exported Scotch Whiskey and they appealed that it would be very difficult for third party exporters to obtain such a certificate in respect of goods already in free circulation in the third country. The ECJ upheld the Dassonville appeal, stating that the law would impose a greater burden on those seeking to import goods into Belgium, and would therefore hinder free movement, and is consequently a MEQR as prohibited by the Treaty.”

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