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Commission v. Sweden. Case C-246/07

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2017

Peter Van Elsuwege*
Ghent University


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International Decisions
Copyright ©by the American Society of International Law,2011

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1 Case C-246/07, Comm’n v. Sweden (Eur. Ct, Justice Apr. 20, 2010). The decisions of the European Court of Justice are available at

2 Treaty Establishing The European Community, Art. 10, 2002 O.J. (C 325) 33 (consolidated version) [hereinafter EC Treaty]; now Treaty on European Union. Art. 4(3), 2008 O.J. (C 115) 13 [hereinafter EU Treaty]. Treaties of the European Union and related documents are available at

3 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, May 22, 2001, 40 ILM 532 (2001), available at [hereinafter Stockholm Convention].

4 Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union (EU) replaces and succeeds the European Community (EC). EU Treaty, supra note 2, Art 1. In this text, reference is made to the EU even if, at the time of the events leading to this judgment, the EC rather than the EU was a member of the Stockholm Convention. As a matter of convenience, the term “EU legislation” is used instead of “EC legislation.”

5 Regulation (EC) No. 850/2004 of 29 April 2004,2004 O.J. (L 229) 5 (regulating POPs and amending Directive 79/117/EEC (2004 O.J. 2004 (L 158) 7)); Regulation (EC) No. 304/2003 of the European Parliament and Council of 28 January 2003, 2003 O.J. (L 63) 1; Council Directive 96/59/EC of 16 September 1996 on Disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Polychlorinated Terphenyls (PCB/PCT), 1996 O.J. (L 243) 31.

6 The shared nature of the EU’s external competence for the protection of the environment was already confirmed by the ECJ. Case C-459/03, Comm’n v. Ireland, 2006 ECR1-4635, para. 92 (Eur. Ct. Justice May 30, 2006).

7 See also Case C-266/03, Comm’n v. Luxembourg, 2005 ECR 1-4805, para. 58; Case C-433/03, Comm’n v. Germany, 2005 ECR 1-6985, para. 64.

8 EC Treaty, supra note 2, Art. 10 (now EU Treaty, supra note 2, Art. 4(3)).

9 Case C-45/07, Comm’n v. Greece, 2009 ECR I-701, para. 28.

10 Marise, Cremona, Member States as Trustees of the Community Interest: Participating in International Agreements on Behalf of the European Community (European University Institute Working Papers, Law 2009/17), at (visited Mar. 24, 2011).Google Scholar

11 Treaty on The Functioning of The European Union, Art. 2(2), May 9, 2008, 2008 O.J. (C 115) 47 [hereinafter TFEU].

12 EU Treaty, supra note 2, Art. 4(3); EC Treaty, supra note 2, Art. 10; Opinion 2/91,1993 ECR I-1061; Opinion 1/94,1994 ECR I-5267; see also Eleftheria, Neframi, The Duty of Loyalty: Rethinking Its Scope Through its Application in the Field of EU External Relations, 47 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 323 (2010)Google Scholar ; Christophe, Hillion, Mixity and Coherence in EU External Relations: the Significance of the “Duty of Cooperation”, in Mixed Agreements Revisited: The Eu and its Member States in The World 87, 8892 (Christophe, Hillion & Panos, Koutrakos eds., 2010)Google Scholar ; Marise, Cremona, Defending the Community Interest: the Duties of Cooperation and Compliance, in EU Foreign Relations Law: Constitutional Fundamentals 125, 15758 (Marise, Cremona & Bruno De, Witte eds., 2008).Google Scholar

13 Case C-266/03, Comm’n v. Luxembourg, 2005 ECRI-4805, para. 60; Case C-433/03, Comm’nv. Germany, 2005 ECR I-6985, para. 66.

14 EU Treaty, supra note 2, Art. 3(5) (nowTFEU, supra note 11, Art. 2); Neframi, supra note 12, at 353.

15 The impossibility for the EU to exercise its voting rights under the Stockholm Convention if any member state exercises its right to vote is a clear example of such a situation.

16 Case C-459/03, Comm’n v. Ireland (MOX Plant), 2006 ECR I-4635, para. 176 (reported by Cesare P. R. Romano at 101 AJIL 171 (2007)).

17 Opinion of Advocate General Maduro, para. 57 (Oct. 1, 2009), Case C-246/07, Comm’n v. Sweden, 2010 ECR I-000 (not yet reported) [hereinafter AG Opinion].

18 Case C-339/00, Ireland v. Comm’n, 2003 ECR I-11757, paras. 71–72.

19 See AG Opinion, supra note 17, paras. 43–45.

20 Case C-45/07, Comm’n v. Greece, 2009 ECR I-701, para. 26.

21 TFEU, supra note 11, Art. 265 (ex EC Treaty, supra note 2, Art. 232); Hillion, supra note 12, at 113.

22 Hillion, supra note 12, at 103–05.

23 Cremona, supra note 12, at 167.

24 In this respect, Cremona observed that” [i]fit [the duty of cooperation] is to be kept conceptually separate from pre-emption, as a restraint on but not a denial of Member State competence, this obligation is best seen as a ‘best efforts’ obligation rather than requiring Member States to refrain from acting until agreement is reached.” Id. at 168.

25 Case C-459/03, Comm’n v. Ireland (MOX Plant), 2006 ECR I-4635, para. 179.

26 Case C-13/00, Comm’n v. Ireland (Berne Convention), 2002 ECR I-2943, paras. 13-19; Case C-239/03, Syndicat professionnel coordination des pêcheurs de l’étang de Berre v. Électricité de France (EDF), 2004 ECR I-9325, paras. 29–30.

27 The ECJ found that BITs concluded by Austria and Sweden with third countries like Russia, China, Pakistan, and Turkey before their accession to the EU in 199 5 hypothetically restrict the EU rules on free movement of capital and payments because the BITs did not include a suspension clause in case the EU would decide to restrict its economic relations with the third countries concerned. See Case C-205/06, Comm’n v. Austria, 2009 ECR 1-1301; Case C-249/06, Comm’n v. Sweden, 2009 ECR 1-1335 (reported by Nikolaos Lavranos at 103 AJIL 716 (2009)). These cases concerned the interpretation of EC Treaty Article 307 EC (now TFEU, supra note 11, Art. 351).

28 See also Case C-266/03, Comm’n v. Luxembourg, 2005 ECR 1-4805, para. 60; Case C-433/03, Comm’n v. Germany, 2005 ECR I-6985, para. 66.

29 See Peter Van, Elsuwege, EU External Action After the Collapse of the Pillar Structure: In Search of a New Balance Between Delimitation and Consistency, 47 Common Mkt. L. Rev. 987 (2010).Google Scholar

30 Internally, the general obligation of loyalty applies from the entering into force of EU legislation, notably directives, whereas externally, the existence of a nonbinding concerted strategy is already sufficient to trigger the application of this principle. on this distinction between the internal and external application of the duty of loyalty, see Rass, Holdgaard, External Relations Law of The European Community: Legal Reasoning and Legal Discourses 12831 (2008).Google Scholar

31 See AG Opinion, supra note 17, para. 38.

32 See Opinion 1/94, 1994 ECR I-5267, paras. 107–08; Opinion of Advocate General Cosmas, paras. 63–64 (July 11,2000), Joined Cases C-300/98, Parfums Christian Dior SA v. Tuk Consultancy BV, & C-392/98, Assco Gerüste GmbH v. Wilhelm Layher GmbH & Co KG, 2000 ECR I-11307.