Judgment in Case C‑206/19 (excerpts), 2020

Legal context

European Union law

3. Article 1(1) of Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (OJ 2006 L 376, p. 36) provides as follows:

‘This Directive establishes general provisions facilitating the exercise of the freedom of establishment for service providers and the free movement of services, while maintaining a high quality of services.’

4. Article 2(1) of that directive is worded as follows:

‘This directive shall apply to services supplied by providers established in a Member State.’

5. Article 4 of that directive provides:

‘For the purpose of this Directive:

(5) “establishment”, means the actual pursuit of an economic activity, as referred to in Article 43 of the Treaty, by the provider for an indefinite period and through a stable infrastructure from where the business of providing services is actually carried out;

(6) “authorisation scheme” means any procedure under which a provider or recipient is in effect required to take steps in order to obtain from a competent authority a formal decision, or an implied decision, concerning access to a service activity or the exercise thereof;

…’

6. Article 9(1) of that directive, entitled ‘Authorisation schemes’, provides:

‘Member States shall not make access to a service activity or the exercise thereof subject to an authorisation scheme unless the following conditions are satisfied:

(a) the authorisation scheme does not discriminate against the provider in question;

…’

7. Article 10 of Directive 2006/123 is worded as follows:

‘1. Authorisation schemes are to be based on criteria which preclude the competent authorities from exercising their power of assessment in an arbitrary manner.

2. The criteria referred to in paragraph 1 shall be:

(a) non-discriminatory;

…’

8. Article 14 of that directive, entitled ‘Prohibited requirements’, provides:

‘Member States shall not make access to, or the exercise of, a service activity in their territory subject to compliance with any of the following:

(1)      discriminatory requirements based directly or indirectly on nationality or, in the case of companies, the location of the registered office, including in particular:

(b)      a requirement that the provider, his staff, persons holding the share capital or members of the provider’s management or supervisory bodies be resident within the territory;

…’

Latvian law

9. Section 28.1(1)(2) of the likums ‘Par zemes privatizāciju lauku apvidos’ (Law on the privatisation of land in rural areas, Latvijas Republikas Augstākās Padomes un Valdības Ziņotājs, 1992, Nos 32 to 34) provides that legal persons ‘may acquire ownership of: agricultural land and land where the dominant category of use of that land is for agricultural purposes … as well as a share in the property held in co-ownership of such land … [provided that they satisfy] all of the following requirements:

(b) they certify in writing that such land will, if the land has been the subject of direct payments in the previous or current year, be used for agricultural activity within one year after its purchase and they will ensure that such use is continuous thereafter, or, if the land has not been the subject of direct payments in the previous or current year, that it will be used for agricultural purposes within three years from the purchase date and they will ensure that such use is continuous thereafter;

(f) in cases where the member or members who together represent more than half of the voting rights in the company, and all persons who are entitled to represent the company, are nationals of other European Union Member States or of States that are part of the European Economic Area or nationals of the Swiss Confederation, those persons have obtained a certificate of registration as a Union citizen and a document demonstrating a knowledge of the official language corresponding to at least level B.2.’

[..]

On those grounds, the Court (Sixth Chamber) hereby rules:

Articles 9, 10 and 14 of Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market must be interpreted as precluding legislation of a Member State which makes the right for a legal person to acquire agricultural land located in the territory of that Member State –– in cases where the member or members who together represent more than half of the voting rights in the company, and all persons who are entitled to represent that company, are nationals of other Member States –– conditional upon, first, submitting a certificate of registration of those members or representatives as residents of that Member State and, second, a document demonstrating that they have a knowledge of the official language of that Member State corresponding to a level which enables them to at least converse on everyday subjects and on professional matters.


Document data: 11.06.2020; C‑206/19. Link: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text&docid=227290&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir&occ=first&part=1&cid=4491638

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