European Union (EU) regulation of the free circulation of goods may be considered an eminent jurisprudential achievement; in fact, it has emerged from and been strengthened by the judgments of the European Court of Justice (hereinafter “the Court”).
In particular, the Court's engagement with the prohibition on quantitative import restrictions and other measures having an equivalent effect established by Article 28 European Convention (EC), has paved the road towards integration. This was especially true of the Court's “milestone” decisions in Dassonville and Cassis de Dijon.
The judicial parameter established by those judgments was built upon the interpretation of “quantitative restrictions” as encompassing any “measures hindering trade.” Although this has proven to be, for a limited period of time, an efficient instrument in pursuing Treaty goals, like the creation of a single European market, it has also produced a few side effects, including: (a) an excessive broadening of the field of Article 28 EC's application; and, consequently, (b) an increase in the number of claims the Court has had to examine. This has placed the Court in the position of having to weigh, more and more frequently, the content of national policies in order to determine whether the restrictions they impose can be justified.