European court to discuss Estonia's €34 million sugar fine lawsuit in September

Sugar. Photo is illustrative. ( Tairo Lutter/Postimees/Scanpix)
8/1/2016 1:23 PM
Source: BNS
Category: Business

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is slated to discuss an action filed by Estonia to get back 34.3 million euros from the EU that the country paid as a penalty for excessive stocks of sugar.

"The hearing on the matter is to take place on September 7," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Sten Juur told BNS, adding that this would be the first and only hearing on the matter.

According to Juur, it will take the CJEU some time to reach a decision but it is unknown just how much, as that will depend on the workload and internal working order of the court.

Estonia filed the action in question at the beginning of March 2015. The state took legal action because the European Commission did not grant its application to return the money paid for the stocks of sugar deemed by the Commission to be excessive at the time of the country's entry into the EU on March 29, 2004.

Estonian Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Karin Volmer told BNS last February that the Commission had refused the Estonian application on the grounds that, in the Commission's estimate, the factual circumstances concerning sugar and other agricultural stocks were different, and not translating legal acts had a different effect on entrepreneurs and member states.

According to the Estonian government, the European Commission has breached several general law principals deriving from the founding treaty, such as the principles of good governance and lawfulness of the union's actions, and this has brought along the union's unfounded enrichment, spokespeople for the government said.

The lawsuit is backed by the CJEU's stance that the European Commission failed to fulfill its obligation to ensure that necessary legislative acts were published in the Official Journal of the EU in the Estonian language by the date of Estonia's accession to the union in 2004.

The Estonian state paid 34.264 million euros as a penalty for excessive stocks of sugar, 75 percent of the total adjudged amount of 45.7 million euros. Estonia was allowed to keep the remaining 25 percent to cover its own expenses.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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