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Commission of the European Communities v.Federal Republic of Germany

European Union, Germany
Type of court
International court
Dec 14, 2004
Court name
European Court of Justice
Seat of court
Skouris, V.
Jann, P.
Lenaerts, K.
Gulmann, C.
Puissochet, J.-P.
Schintgen, R.
Colneric, N.
von Bahr, S.
Cunha Rodrigues, J.N.
Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, D.
Reference number
Waste & hazardous substances, Water
Packaging/labelling Water quality standards Hazardous waste
According to Directive 80/777, mineral water may only be bottled and transported in the same containers as authorised for distribution to the ultimate consumer. Mineral water falls under the German Packaging Ordinance in which it is stipulated that if during 2 subsequent years less than 72% of reusable packaging is sold, six months after an announcement an obligatory deposit and return system will take effect. According to the ECJ, Directive 94/62, which does not establish a hierarchy between the reuse of packaging and the recovery of packaging waste, merely allows the Member States to encourage, in conformity with the EC Treaty, systems for the reuse of packaging that can be reused in an environmentally sound manner and thus does not harmonise completely the organisation of national systems designed to encourage the reuse of packaging. A violation of Art. 28 EC Treaty is found since the replacement, as regards non-reusable packaging, of a global packaging-collection system with a deposit and return system hinders the placing on the German market of natural mineral water imported from other Member States even though there is no obligation to stop using non-reusable packaging. In fact, an increase could be witnessed in the import of mineral water in such packaging. The rule of reason cannot be invoked as the 6 months period is judged not to be sufficient to enable producers of natural mineral water to adapt their production and their management of non-reusable packaging waste to the new system, despite the fact that this period was already announced in the German Packaging Ordinance from 1998. The ECJ finds this period a violation of the proportionality principle and thus deals another blow to the efforts to curb the ever rising amounts of packaging waste throughout the EU. Also see case C-309/02.
Full text



Council Directive 80/777/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters.

Legislation | European Union | 1980

Keyword: Food quality control/food safety, Standards, Mineral water, Packaging/labelling, Internal trade, International trade


European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste.

Legislation | European Union | 1994

Keyword: Waste prevention, Recycling/reuse, Solid waste, Access-to-information, Waste management