Publication of New Volume of the Irish Journal of European Law

On 23 December 2016, the latest edition of the Irish Journal of European Law is being published. The Journal is available on the website of the Irish Society for European Law:

The Journal, which has been published since 1992, is a leading international journal on European law edited by Irish scholars and practitioners.

Irish Journal of European Law

Irish Journal For European Law: Call for Papers 2016

The Irish Society for European Law recently re-launched the Irish Journal of European Law as an e-journal. The Journal, which has been published since 1992, is a leading international journal on European law edited by Irish scholars and practitioners. The 2014 and 2015 volumes are available on the Society’s website at

The Journal – which is blind peer-reviewed – is now issuing a call for original papers for its 2016 volume. Long articles (indicative length 8,000 – 12,000 words) and shorter articles (3,000-4,000 words), and analyses of any length of recent developments are invited.

While submissions on Irish-European legal issues are of special interest, the Journal welcomes submissions on all areas of European law. In addition to the more traditional form of academic article, comment and opinion pieces on European-Irish affairs with a legal dimension will also be considered. 

Submissions are to be sent to by 31 August 2016 in WORD format, size 12 font, single spaced. The referencing style guide is OSCOLA Ireland, which is available online at:

Irish Journal of European Law

Co-Editors: Anna-Louise Hinds & Diarmuid Rossa Phelan;

Members of the Editorial Board: Una Butler, Karole Cuddihy, Catherine Donnelly, David Fennelly, Sonja Heppner, Anna Hickey, Clíodhna Murphy.

XXVII FIDE Congress, 18-21 May 2016

The ISEL is delighted to announce the XXVII FIDE Congress, which will be held in Budapest, Hungary on 18-21 May.  This year’s Congress is organised by the Curia of Hungary and the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of Pázmány Péter Catholic University. The congress is a unique opportunity to learn about and influence the development of EU law and to exchange ideas and visions with colleagues from all professions of the legal world.

For further information and details on registration, please visit the FIDE2016 website.

EU Law Update: EU court refers alcohol pricing law back to national court

Health has been an important theme in the work of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the last month.

In case C-333/14, in a reference arising from a challenge brought by the Scotch Whisky Association, the court considered legislation introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol, which had the objective of protecting human life and health by reducing the hazardous consumption of alcohol and the consumption of alcohol more generally.

The court considered that the effect of the legislation was to significantly restrict the market, which could be avoided by introducing a tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol, while allowing traders to determine their own selling price.

The task of determining whether the proposed legislation was justified or if the objectives could be achieved through less restrictive means was referred back to the national court.

Also enacted with a view to promoting health, the EU tobacco directive of 2014 introducing plain packaging for cigarettes, a future EU-wide prohibition on menthol cigarettes and special rules for e-cigarettes was considered to be lawful in the opinion of Advocate General Kokott in a series of challenges brought by Poland, Philip Morris and others.

In the view of the Advocate General, the EU legislature did not exceed the considerable latitude it enjoyed in ensuring that tobacco and related products may be placed on the market under uniform conditions throughout the EU, without losing sight of the fundamental objective of a high level of health protection.

It remains to be seen whether the court will follow this approach.

Meanwhile, in Case C-180/14, the Court of Justice found Greece in violation of its obligation to ensure a maximum weekly working time for doctors, which the court described as a rule of European Union social law of particular importance, since it was a minimum requirement necessary to ensure the protection of safety and health.

Also relevant to workers is the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Barbulescu v Romania. Here it was held that an employer has, in certain circumstances, the right to read and access information that is sent by an employee during their working hours.

There is no suggestion that employers have unlimited access to personal messages sent by employees during office hours and the employee in the case was using a company computer to send personal messages while at work, in direct contravention of a well-advertised and well-known company policy.

The use of purely personal mobile devices appears to be generally safe from employer scrutiny, for now. While Ireland is not bound by the decisions of the ECHR, courts must take due account of them.

Away from the courts, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management announced an aid package of €77 million for the Horn of Africa during a visit on January 21st to Dadaab refugee camp, the largest in the world with 350,000 refugees.

Meanwhile, against the background of the terrorist bombings in Paris in November, the European Counter-Terrorism Centre was launched in Amsterdam on January 25th.

This article by Aileen Murtagh and Catherine Donnelly BL, members of the Irish Society for European Law, was published in the Irish Times on Friday 6 February 2016

EU Law Update: Two states ordered to recover unpaid corporation tax

The European Commission has ordered Luxembourg and the Netherlands to recover unpaid tax from Fiat and Starbucks in the region of €20 million to €30 million each. On October 21st, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager condemned tax rulings ordered by Luxembourg and the Netherlands in favour of Fiat and Starbucks respectively as illegal and contrary to the EU state aid rules.

A decision by the commission in respect of tax rulings by the Irish Revenue in relation to the corporate taxation of Apple is expected to follow. A finding of illegality could see the Irish Government ordered to recover unpaid tax from Apple of sums well in excess of €30 million.

Data protection

In a significant development in the field of privacy and data protection, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled invalid the “safe harbour” arrangement between the EU and the US, a mechanism used to facilitate the export of personal data from the EU to the US.

The Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner judgment of October 6th found that the safe harbour arrangement violates fundamental rights to privacy and data protection.

The arrangement was based on a decision by the commission in July 2000 that the US ensured an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the EU to the US. As a directly related consequence of the Schrems judgment, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner will now have to examine a complaint made against Facebook by Max Schrems to decide whether the transfer of personal data of Facebook’s European users to the US is compatible with EU data protection laws.

State aid

In another state aid case involving Ireland, the commission opened a formal investigation in September into alleged unlawful State aid provided to Aer LingusAer Arann and Dublin Airport Authority.

The commission had previously dismissed a complaint by Ryanair that the exclusion by Ireland of transfer and transit passengers from Irish air travel tax amounted to State aid, which Ryanair argued unfairly favoured Aer Lingus and Aer Arann to its detriment.

Ryanair challenged that decision and the general court agreed in November 2014 that the commission should have initiated a formal investigation to examine appropriately the issues. The commission will now formally investigate the matter and third parties will be given the opportunity to comment.

According to a joint report announced late last month by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency, the EU is on schedule to meet and exceed its 2020 target to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent.

The latest projections submitted by member states show that the EU is heading towards a 24 per cent reduction by 2020. This could increase to 25 per cent due to additional measures planned in member states.

This article by Maureen O’Neill and Áine Connor, members of the Irish Society for European Law, was published in The Irish Times on Friday 13 November 2015

EU Law Update: Travelling time is ‘working time’

There were developments in September in relation to the European Law obligation on airlines to pay compensation where a flight is delayed or cancelled.

European Court of Justice judgment on September 17th, in a case arising from a claim for €600 from KLM because of a 29-hour delay, reinforces consumer rights.

KLM had argued that it was not obliged to pay compensation under European Law as an exception for “extraordinary circumstances” applied to the delay. The delay arose from an unforeseen technical problem which was not identified by general maintenance checks and tests. The court held that unforeseen technical problems were part and parcel of the daily business of an air carrier and as such could not be deemed “extraordinary” and on that basis compensation for the delay was payable to passengers.

On September 24th, shortly after the Volkswagen emissions scandal emerged, the European Commission made a statement calling for full disclosure, zero tolerance and strict compliance with EU rules on pollutant emissions. The commission called on all EU member states to carry out national investigations and report back to them. It announced that a new Real Driving Emission (RDE) test procedure would be phased in from early 2016.

The recent judgment of the European Court of Justice in the Tyco case on September 10th could have far-reaching effects in Ireland for employers whose staff do not have a fixed place of work.

The case addressed the question of whether time spent travelling between home and individual clients for such employees constitutes “working time” or “rest period” under the Organisation of Working Time Directive, and whether benefits accordingly accrue in respect of that time. The court came to the conclusion that travelling time must be included in “working time” since the employer determines the place where the employee should be and the employee remains at the employer’s disposal.

While this judgment may not immediately impact private employers, it would appear that this case could have significant broader implications for public bodies who are directly bound by this judgment. Not only would this mean that travelling time would be included in “working time”, but many other employees who do not have a fixed place of work, including a wide range of health care workers, could be affected by this judgment.

This article by Elaine Davis and Joanne Finnmembers of the Irish Society for European Law, was published in the Irish Times on Friday, 16 October, 2015.

© 2015