View this page on Reckon Online

Reckon home page

Corbeau (ECJ)

Court of Justice of the European Communities
Case C-320/91, reference for a preliminary ruling in criminal proceedings against Paul Corbeau
[1993] ECR I-2533
Judgment of 19 May 1993 available online (HTML, about 5 pages)

Article 86(1) in conjunction with Article 82 and Article 86(2)
Article numbers refer to the 1997 consolidated version of the EC Treaty.

This is a reference for a preliminary ruling by a Belgian criminal court. Mr Corbeau stood accused of infringing the Belgian Post Office's statutory monopoly. The European Court of Justice was asked for a ruling on the legitimacy of the monopoly under EC law, particularly Article 86 (which was Article 90 at the time of the ruling; this page uses the numbering of the 1997 consolidated version of the EC Treaty).

The Court ruled that Article 86(1) imposes the same prohibitions on legal restrictions imposed by the State as would arise from the application of Article 82 — in conjunction with Article 86(2) — to the decisions of the Post Office as an undertaking. For details, see in particular paragraphs 10-13 of the judgment, and paragraph 20 of the earlier GB-Inno-DB preliminary ruling (case C-18/88).

On that basis, the Court considered that the monopoly would only be compatible with the Treaty if the restrictions on competition were necessary to meet a legitimate public service purpose. In this case the purpose was expressed in terms of "the economic equilibrium of the service of general economic interest performed by the holder of the exclusive right".

A more detailed discussion of how such a public service purpose might justify restrictions on competition was subsequently provided by the Court in Ambulanz Glöckner (case C-45/99).

This page is managed by Reckon LLP. Users are encouraged to contribute relevant views and links. Use the "Edit this page" or "Add a comment" button above to edit the text or to add comments and notes. Advice on making contributions (including trackback) is in the Guidelines.

Last changed by Franck at 11:45 AM on Saturday 5 November 2005.

Reference for this page:
Reckon Open "Corbeau" 2005-11-05T11:45:29
Link within Reckon Open: [[Corbeau]]