Thoughts on the Future of Europe - EFTA Court Spring Conference 2017
On Friday 16 June 2017, the EFTA Court held its annual Spring Conference on the topic “Thoughts on the Future of Europe”.
The conference was attended by more than 170 participants including members of EFTA State supreme courts, the EFTA Surveillance Authority, and of EU institutions including the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Commission, representatives from governments, business associations and trades unions, practitioners and academics. Following President Baudenbacher’s introductory speech, there were six high level presentations. During the opening session, Justice Wilhelm Matheson of the Supreme Court of Norway discussed ‘Fundamental Freedoms and Fundamental Rights; Challenges in Deciding the Holship Case (E-14/15) on the National Level,’ putting a spotlight on the challenges the case posed. Dr iur. HSG Magnus Schmauch from the Finansinspektionen, Sweden’s financial supervisory authority, elaborated on the innovative architecture of financial regulation in the EEA, focusing on the new role of the EFTA Surveillance Authority and enhanced role of the EFTA Court under the European Securities and Markets Authority Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010).
Peter Freeman CBE QC (Hon), Chairman of the United Kingdom’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, opened the afternoon session by analysing in-depth recent EFTA Court competition law jurisprudence, focusing in particular on Cases E-15/10 Norway Post, E-14/15 Holship and E-3/16 Ski Taxi. The day’s next two sessions addressed Brexit. Kassie Smith QC of Monckton Chambers, London, examined ‘Brexit and the EEA,’ considering that the EEA is a workable framework for the UK post-Brexit. Professor Dr Heribert Hirte, a member of the Deutscher Bundestag, approached the topic of Brexit, giving a view from the Bundestag, and considered political and legal aspects of a withdrawal agreement and an ambitious future free trade agreement as well as matters of security and defence policy. The final session of the day was a speech by the fifth President of Iceland, H. E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, now Chairman of the Arctic Circle, who spoke on ‘The Future of Europe – A View from the North,’ giving extraordinary insight into the increased cognisance of the strategic importance of the Arctic from across the world. Given the nature of the day’s sessions, very many questions and thought-provoking reflections were posed by the audience. The sessions were moderated by the EFTA Court’s legal secretaries Theresa Haas, Marthe Dystland, Michael-James Clifton, Arnaldur Hjartarson, Dr. Luísa Lourenço and Gudlaug Jónasdóttir.
President Baudenbacher closed the conference by thanking the speakers for their sharing their perceptive insights and the audience for their engaging questions. The conference was followed by a reception.
For the gallery of photographs from the event please click here
Judgment in Case E-18/16 - EFTA Surveillance Authority v Iceland
Judgment in Case E-18/16 - EFTA Surveillance Authority v Iceland, delivered in open Court on 7 June 2017.
Judgment in Case E-17/16 - EFTA Surveillance Authority v Iceland
Judgment in Case E-17/16 - EFTA Surveillance Authority v Iceland, delivered in open Court on 7 June 2017.
Press Release 05/17 - Case E-8/16 - Netfonds Holding ASA m.fl. v Staten v/Finansdepartementet
Judgment in Case E-8/16 - Netfonds Holding ASA m.fl. v Staten v/Finansdepartementet
First Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar
From 2 to 4 May 2017, the First Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar was held. The Supreme Courts of Iceland and Norway, in corpore, Judges from the three highest courts of Liechtenstein – State Court, Supreme Court and Administrative Court –, together with their respective legal secretaries, joined the Judges of the EFTA Court in Luxembourg on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the EEA Agreement in Oporto. The three groups were headed by President Thorgeir Örlygsson of the Supreme Court of Iceland, President Hubertus Schumacher of the Supreme Court of Liechtenstein and Chief Justice Toril Marie Øie of the Supreme Court of Norway.
On 2 May, the delegates from the three EEA/EFTA States first attended a hearing of the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and met with a party from the European Union courts led by ECJ President Koen Lenaerts. The summit was opened by a speech of EFTA Court President Carl Baudenbacher on the EFTA Court in its 24th year. Baudenbacher explained that homogeneity is not a one way street and that due to its size, the lack of an advocate general and the absence of a French rucksack, the EFTA Court has developed its own, fact-based, judicial style. Presidents Örlygsson, and Schumacher and Chief Justice Øie presented the Supreme Courts of their countries. Presidents Örlygsson and Schumacher emphasised that the courts in Iceland and in Liechtenstein are positive towards the preliminary reference procedure. Chief Justice Øie pointed to the fact that the Supreme Court of Norway has made three references in the years 2015 and 2016. The presentations were followed by an informal exchange of views on the relations between the EFTA Court and the national Supreme Courts. On 3 May 2017, participants attended the EFTA Court’s oral hearing in Case E-16/16 Fosen-Linjen AS v AtB AS, a request for an Advisory Opinion by the Frostating Court of Appeal following a briefing on the Court’s procedures. Since Judge Páll Hreinsson was unable to participate, he was replaced by ad hoc Judge Benedikt Bogason who, as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Iceland, was a member of the Icelandic delegation. On 4 May 2017, the group was joined by the Judges from the three EEA/EFTA States of the European Court of Human Rights, Erik Møse (Norway), Robert R. Spano (Iceland), and Carlo Ranzoni (Liechtenstein), for a discussion of possible consequences of Brexit. Judge Møse gave a talk on the British criticism levied at the European Court of Human Rights, Judge Per Christiansen spoke about “Brexit and a Multispeed EU” and President Baudenbacher addressed the subjects “Dispute resolution under a new free trade agreement EU-UK” and “Homogeneity after Brexit.”
The First Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar provided an excellent opportunity for the exchange of views and experiences between Justices of all three EEA/EFTA States and their colleagues from the courts in Luxembourg and in Strasbourg. It has furthered the judicial dialogue, in both formal and convivial surroundings. The Summit’s success will be repeated in the future.
For the gallery of photographs from the event and the speeches please click here
Press Release 04/17 - Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar
From 2 to 4 May 2017, the Supreme Courts of Iceland and of Norway in corpore and Judges from the three highest courts of Liechtenstein – State Court, Supreme Court and Administrative Court – will pay an official visit to the Court. The respective groups will be headed by President Thorgeir Örlygsson from the Supreme Court of Iceland, President Hubertus Schumacher from the Supreme Court of Liechtenstein and Chief Justice Toril Marie Øie from the Supreme Court of Norway. On 4 May 2017, the group will be joined by the Judges from the three EEA/EFTA States of the European Court of Human Rights. The Judges will discuss matters of common interest with a special focus on the two most important principles of EEA law: homogeneity and reciprocity. They will also deal with possible consequences of Brexit for the EEA and with the British criticism levied at the European Court of Human Rights. The visitors will moreover attend oral hearings at the Court and at the Court of Justice of the European Union.