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Case 114/76 Bela-Mühle

[1977] ECR 1211

Case summary last updated at 11/02/2020 20:05 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Case 114/76 Bela-Mühle

To reduce stocks of dried milk powder, those importing livestock feed were required, under regulations, to purchase a quantity of milk powder with every import, set at a high price, and with a high penalty for failure to do so. ECJ held that this was a disproportionate measure and therefore annulled it. 
AG’s opinion: There can be no doubt that the Community legal order adopts as its own the fundamental rights which are part of the common heritage of the legal systems of the member-States. The principle that every individual has freedom to choose his trade, occupation or profession is recognised in all the member-States of the Community, albeit in differing terms. It must therefore follow that a similar fundamental principle of freedom exists in Community law also. Question here is whether it is lawful, in the general interest of the Community, to impose specific burdens and sacrifices upon categories (i.e. livestock importers) outside a sector in difficulty (milk production). “The principle of proportionality is infringed only if the means chosen are clearly inappropriate and the legislature's grounds are so manifestly erroneous that they can afford no reasonable basis for legislative measures.” Very weak definition of proportionality- almost closer to that of Wednesbury unreasonableness! Depends what he means by ‘inappropriate’- just ‘rational connection’ or 3rd/4th stages of Wednesbury too…

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