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Digital Markets Act: The application by Bytedance (TikTok) seeking suspension of the Commission decision designating it as a gatekeeper is dismissed

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According to the Order of the President of the General Court in case T-1077/23 (R| Bytedance v Commission), the application by Bytedance (TikTok) seeking suspension of the Commission decision designating it as a gatekeeper is dismissed. Bytedance has failed to demonstrate the urgency required for an interim order in order to avoid serious and irreparable damage. Bytedance Ltd is a non-operating holding company established in China in 2012 which, through local subsidiaries, provides the entertainment platform TikTok. By decision of 5 September 2023, the Commission designated Bytedance as a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act (Regulation (EU) 2022/1925 of 14 September 2022 on contestable and fair markets in the digital sector).  In November 2023, Bytedance brought an action for annulment of that decision. By separate document, Bytedance lodged an application for interim measures seeking suspension of that decision.  By his order, the President of the General Court dismisses Bytedanc

Vacancy: Legal Adviser at the International Labor Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

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International Labor Organization (ILO) based in Geneva, invites interested candidates to submit their curriculum vitae for the position of Legal Adviser. The position of Legal Adviser directs the Office of the Legal Adviser, which  is responsible for providing legal advice and a full range of legal services on all matters implicating the legal interest of the Organization, including legal opinions, Office documents, Memoranda or briefs, concerning its Constitution, membership, governance structure, rules and activities. All officials, whether at headquarters or in the field, in the performance of their functions are expected to seek legal advice and any necessary legal services on all such matters to enable them to act in the best interests of the Organization in accordance with ILO rules and procedures.  Education Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in law.  A first-level university degree (Bachelor’s or equivalent) in law with an additional two years of

Very serious threats to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Greece, finds a resolution of the European Parliament

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The European Parliament raised on 7.2.2024 the alarm over several worrying developments in Greece threatening the rule of law, and called on the Commission to act. In a resolution adopted with 330 votes in favour, 254 against, and 26 abstentions, MEPs express grave concerns about very serious threats to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country. Media freedom Regarding media pluralism and the safety of journalists, MEPs complain about the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of George Karaivaz in April 2021. They denounce that journalists are subject to physical threats and verbal attacks (also from high-ranking politicians), violations of their privacy with spyware, and abusive lawsuits –including from the Prime Minister’s entourage. Parliament also has concerns over the independence of the national audiovisual regulatory authority, the concentration of media in the hands of oligarchs, and the distribution of state subsidies. Spyware

Anonymous birth: Fair balance between applicant’s right to find out her origins and her biological mother’s right to remain anonymous in compliance with Article 8 of ECHR

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In Chamber's judgment dated 30.1.2024 in the case of Cherrier v. France (application no. 18843/20) the European Court of Human Rights held, by six votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The case concerned the refusal by the National Council for Access to Information about Personal Origins (Conseil national pour l’accès aux origines personnelles – “the CNAOP”) to inform the applicant, who was born to anonymous parents, of the identity of her biological mother. The applicant had applied for information about her origins to be disclosed, but the mother had reasserted her choice not to reveal her identity.  The Court held that the refusal in issue had amounted to an interference with the applicant’s right to respect for her private life under Article 8 of the Convention. That interference was in accordance with the law and pursued the aim of protecting the biological mother’

Compensation for air passengers in the event of long delay of flights (ECJ)

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Passengers who did not present themselves for boarding for a flight which arrived with a long delay or who purchased a ticket for an alternative flight and arrived at the destination with a delay of less than three hours are not entitled to fixed compensation. In such circumstances, damage consisting in a loss of time cannot be established. This is the conclusion of two recent decisions of the CJEU published on 25.1.2024 [1]. According to the facts, a delay of more than three hours was announced in respect of two flights from Düsseldorf to Palma de Mallorca operated by the airline Laudamotion. Worried that the delay of the flight on which they had a reservation would cause them to miss a business appointment, two passengers decided not to take their flights. The first passenger’s flight arrived with a delay of 3 hours and 32 minutes. As for the second passenger, he independently booked an alternative flight and arrived at the destination with a delay of less than three hours in relatio

Employee monitoring: French Data Protection Authority fined Amazon France Logistique €32 million

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On 27 December 2023, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) fined Amazon France Logistique €32 million for setting up an excessively intrusive system for monitoring employee activity and performance. The company was also fined for video surveillance without information nor sufficient security. Amazon France Logistique   manages the Amazon group's large warehouses in France, where it receives and stores items and then prepares parcels for delivery to customers. As part of its activities, each warehouse employee is given a scanner to document the performance of certain tasks assigned to them in real time (storage or removal of an item from the shelves, putting away or packing, etc.). Each scan carried out by employees results in recording of data, which is stored and used to calculate indicators providing information on the quality, productivity and periods of inactivity of each employee. Following press articles about practices of the company in its warehouses, the CNIL c

Graduate Programme 2024 for EU Nationals in European Central Bank

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European Central Bank (ECB) is looking for 15 highly talented recent graduates with a postgraduate degree, eventually a PhD, for the ECB’s Graduate Programme offering full time monthly net salary €4,611 plus benefits. General Information  Type of contract: Two-year fixed-term contract starting on 1 September. It may be extended for one additional year upon successful completion of the programme. Who can apply?  EU nationals Salary  E/F (bracket 1 - step 1) full time monthly net salary: €4,611 plus benefits, for further information see  here . Working time:  Full time Place of work:  Frankfurt am Main, Germany Closing date:  21.02.2024 ECB is looking for 15 highly talented recent graduates with a postgraduate degree, eventually a PhD, for the ECB’s Graduate Programme.  You will have different ages, backgrounds and interests and will find intellectual challenges, varied opportunities and a people-centred working culture that gives you a voice and the chance to make an i

Torture and ill-treatment in places of detention in Europe: PACE calls for stronger action

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Adopting a resolution on allegations of systemic torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in places of detention in Europe, based on a report by Constantinos Efstathiou (Cyprus, SOC), the Parliamentary Assembly of CoE called for enhanced measures to combat and eliminate torture and other forms of ill-treatment in detention facilities. "The Council of Europe must ensure that the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is upheld. Persons in detention are in a vulnerable position, and States are under a duty to protect their physical well-being and to account for any injuries suffered” , the Assembly said. Parliamentarians strongly condemned “the systemic or widespread use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment” in States such as Russia, Azerbaijan and Türkiye and cited reports that reveal videos and photos of torture and ill-treatment in Russian prisons, ‘Terter cases’ in Azerbaijan where detainees were

VAT fraud: Employee using her employer’s details to issue fake invoices is liable for the amount of the taxes entered on them (ECJ)

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According to the Judgment (30.1.2024) of the Court of Justice in Case C-442/22 [1] , an employee using her employer’s details to issue fake invoices is liable for the amount of the taxes entered on them. That is the case provided that the employer, who is a taxable person for VAT purposes, has exercised the due diligence reasonably required to monitor the conduct of its employee. Between January 2010 and April 2014, the employee of a company established in Poland operating a petrol station issued 1,679 invoices that did not reflect actual sales of goods, for a total amount (expressed in Polish zlotys) of approximately €320,000. To that end, she used the details of her employer, a taxable person for value added tax (VAT) purposes, without its knowledge or consent. The fake invoices were not recorded in that company’s tax returns. They were used by those who received them to obtain an undue refund of VAT, without the corresponding tax having been paid into the State budget. Follow

The use by EPSO of remote testing in selection procedures to recruit EU civil servants

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Following a significant number of complaints concerning the use by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) of remote testing in selection procedures to recruit EU civil servants, the European Ombudsman carried out an own-initiative inquiry to look into the issues raised. The Ombudsman’s inquiry identified various issues in how EPSO organised and oversaw the remote tests, including regarding the requirements it put in place. The inquiry also identified shortcomings in the information provided by EPSO to applicants and candidates, as well as how it dealt with complaints and the rescheduling of tests. To address these, the Ombudsman made suggestions aimed at improving EPSO’s rules and administrative practices. The Ombudsman  closed the inquiry , as no further inquiries were justified. However, she urged EPSO to ensure it provides clear and consistent information concerning future ‘competitions’ and selection procedures to recruit EU civil servants. This is particularly importan

Regulation (EU) 2023/2844 on the digitalisation of judicial cooperation and access to justice in cross-border civil, commercial and criminal matters, and amending certain acts in the field of judicial cooperation

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Regulation (EU) 2023/2844 establishes a uniform legal framework for the use of electronic communication between competent authorities in judicial cooperation procedures in civil, commercial and criminal matters and for the use of electronic communication between natural or legal persons and competent authorities in judicial procedures in civil and commercial matters. In addition, it lays down rules on: a) the use of videoconferencing or other distance communication technology for purposes other than the taking of evidence under Regulation (EU) 2020/1783; b) the application of electronic signatures and electronic seals; c) the legal effects of electronic documents; d) electronic payment of fees. Regulation applies to electronic communication in judicial cooperation procedures in civil, commercial and criminal matters, and hearings through videoconferencing or other means of distance communication technology in civil, commercial and criminal matters. This Regulation seeks t

ECtHR Judgement against Greece: Disclosure of the identities and medical data of prostitutes diagnosed with HIV was a breach of their right to private life

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The case of O.G. and Others v. Greece (applications nos. 71555/12 and 48256/13) concerned the publication, by decision of the domestic authorities, of medical data concerning prostitutes who had been diagnosed as HIV-positive, and media coverage of them. It also concerned the circumstances in which they were required to undergo a blood test.  In Chamber 's judgment(23.1.2024) in this case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been two violations:  -A violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, with regard to two applicants, on account of the blood tests they had been required to undertake.  The Court considered that the blood samples imposed on two applicants had amounted to an interference with their private life and noted that this had not been in accordance with the law within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention, given that the provisions of domestic law in issue ought to have been f

Publication of the specific study on the profession of notaries

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As every two years, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) publishes on its website, and on the special page of its database CEPEJ-STAT, a specific Study on notaries.  This study has been prepared by the Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE), professional association with CEPEJ observer status. Based on 2020 data collected by the CEPEJ in the framework of its evaluation of judicial systems, this study practically complements and deepens the   Evaluation Report  published in 2022.  The Specific Study on Notaries  covers different themes relating to the profession of notaries in Europe and in particular the status, number, functions, competences, activities, best practices in the field of new technologies, training, and supervision and monitoring of the notariat. Similar studies are carried out concerning enforcement agents and judicial experts, and they are published in September on the CEPEJ and CEPEJ-STAT web pages. Trends and conclusions of the

Obligation of a creditor to check a consumer’s creditworthiness - Credit agreement void and creditor’s entitlement to payment of the agreed interest forfeited

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By Giorgos Kazoleas, Lawyer A significant decision was issued by the CJEU [1] interpreting Articles 8 and 23 of Directive 2008/48/EC on consumer credit agreements and repealing Council Directive 87/102/EEC as regards the obligation of credit institutions to assess the creditworthiness of consumers before concluding the credit agreement.  Article 8 of that directive, entitled ‘Obligation to assess the creditworthiness of the consumer’, provides: ‘ 1. Member States shall ensure that, before the conclusion of the credit agreement, the creditor assesses the consumer’s creditworthiness on the basis of sufficient information, where appropriate obtained from the consumer and, where necessary, on the basis of a consultation of the relevant database. Member States whose legislation requires creditors to assess the creditworthiness of consumers on the basis of a consultation of the relevant database may retain this requirement. 2. Member States shall ensure that, if the parties agree to c

Woman forced to travel abroad to have an abortion following legislative amendments in Poland breached the ECHR (ECtHR)

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In Chamber's judgment (14.12.2023) in the case of M.L. v. Poland (application no. 40119/21) concerning restrictions on abortion rights the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The applicant alleged in particular that she had been banned from having access to a legal abortion in the case of foetal abnormalities, following a 2020 Constitutional Court judgment. She had become pregnant and the foetus was diagnosed with trisomy 21. A scheduled hospital abortion had been cancelled when the legislative amendments resulting from the Constitutional Court ruling had come into force. Unable to have an abortion in Poland, she had ultimately had to travel to a private clinic abroad for the procedure.  The Court found that the legislative amendments in question, which had forced her to travel abroad for an abortion at considerable expense

European Medicines Agency access to documents practices not in line with good administration, says European Ombudsman

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The European Ombudsman has criticised two practices that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) applies when handling access to documents requests. The first concerns EMA’s handling of certain requests for public access to documents by placing them in a chronological queue. In the Ombudsman’s view, this practice does not meet the requirement in the EU transparency regulation that the EU administration handle access requests promptly. The second practice concerns EMA restricting individuals to a maximum of five requests in the chronological queue at a given time and limiting each of these requests to no more than two documents. This ‘5-2 rule’ is arbitrary and does not take account of the length, complexity, or total number of documents falling within the scope of individual requests. As a result, the Ombudsman found it to constitute maladministration. The Ombudsman noted that EMA is already taking steps to phase out the chronological queue and asked the agency to report to her on it

The rules of UEFA on ‘homegrown players’ could be contrary to EU law (ECJ)

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According to the Judgment of the Court of Justice (21.12.2023) in Case C-680/21 (Royal Antwerp Football Club),  the rules of UEFA and the Belgian football association on ‘homegrown players’ could be contrary to EU law. A footballer and a Belgian club are challenging UEFA’s rules and those of the Belgian football association that require a minimum number of ‘home-grown players’ to be included in teams. The Court holds that that requirement could infringe both competition rules and the free movement of workers. However, the national court in charge of the case will have to verify whether or not that is the case. UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) requires football clubs to have a minimum number of ‘home-grown players’ in their teams. The Belgian football association (URBSFA) has adopted similar rules. In both cases, those rules define ‘home-grown players’ as players who are trained at national level, although UEFA’s rules also refer to players trained within a given club. A p

Cybercrime: the fear of a possible misuse of personal data is capable, in itself, of constituting non-material damage (ECJ)

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According to the Judgment (14.12.2023) of the Court of Justice in Case C-340/21 (Natsionalna agentsia za prihodite), the fear of a possible misuse of personal data is capable, in itself, of constituting non-material damage. The Bulgarian National Revenue Agency (the NAP) is attached to the Bulgarian Minister for Finance. In particular, it is responsible for identifying, securing and recovering public debts. In this context, it is a personal data controller. On 15 July 2019, the media reported an intrusion into the NAP IT system, revealing that, following that cyberattack, personal data concerning millions of persons had been published on the internet. Many individuals brought legal actions against the NAP for compensation for non-material damage caused by the fear that their data might be misused.  The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court refers several questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) .

Editorial

Editorial
George Kazoleas, Lawyer