Estonia loses sugar penalty dispute in European Court of Justice ({{commentsTotal}})

Sugar cubes.
Sugar cubes. Source: howzey/Creative Commons

The European Court of Justice on Thursday dismissed Estonia's appeal against the court's decision to dismiss the country's action against the European Commission for the cancellation of a €34.3 million sugar penalty.

"The European Court of Justice has decided to dismiss the appeal," it is said in a verdict made in Luxembourg on Thursday.

The ECJ on 24 March 2017 dismissed the action Estonia filed in spring 2015 to get back from the EU the €34.3 million that Estonia paid in penalty for excessive stocks of sugar.

On 5 June that year, Estonia filed an appeal against the European Commission in connection with the ECJ's decision.

Upon joining the EU in 2004, Estonia had to pay a so-called fine for excessive stocks of various products. The debate over the excessive stocks of sugar emerged due to the suspicion whether the European Commission had fulfilled their obligation to ensure that necessary legislation would be published in Estonian in the Official Journal of the European Union on the day of Estonia's accession to the EU.

As the General Court of the European Union cancelled the European Commission's decision to determine the excessive stocks of all other agricultural products except sugar, the Commission by the end of 2012 returned to Estonia €6.6 million that had been paid into the EU budget.

Referring to the same decision, Estonia applied for the return of the €34.3 million paid as penalty for the excessive stocks of sugar. In December 2014, however, the Commission announced that it would not satisfy Estonia's application. Estonia then turned to the ECJ.

An important argument as to why the highest court of the EU dismissed the action last year was that the 2012 court verdicts were not deemed new or significant circumstances. In its appeal, Estonia among other things noted that this stance was inaccurate and circumstances had actually changed. In its fresh decision, however, the ECJ ruled that the initial reasoning was appropriate.

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

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Editor: Aili Vahtla



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