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Emergency! But What about Legal Protection in the EU?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 March 2018


The EU institutions and agencies have become increasingly involved in enforcing EU law directly vis-à-vis private actors. A number of such EU entities have also acquired the so-called emergency powers, which allow interference with the legal position of a private party. Given the lack of research in this area, the question that this article addresses is whether relevant safeguards have been introduced to ensure the rule of law in such situations to prevent the abuse of executive discretion by public authorities. What are the relevant safeguards in the emergency in the EU in the first place? Having analysed relevant EU legislation and case law, the article offers a complete overview of all the existing EU entities with the emergency powers and shows a great diversity in the extent to which the EU legislator has regulated procedural safeguards in relevant law. The article discusses what safeguards need to be ensured in an emergency and argues for clarity of legislative frameworks in this respect.

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Junior lecturer of EU law, Utrecht University, the Netherlands:


Lawyer and a PhD researcher, Utrecht University, the Netherlands, funded under the “vidi” grant of Professor M Luchtman by the Dutch Council for Scientific Research (NWO):


Associate Professor of EU Law, Utrecht University, who gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the NWO in writing this article via her “veni” grant: Argyro and Miroslava are members of the Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE). All authors are grateful to Professor Rob Widdershoven as well as an anonymous reviewer appointed by the journal for their useful comments on the earlier drafts of this article.


1 Scholten, M and Luchtman, M, Law Enforcement by EU Authorities (Edward Elgar 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Scholten, M, “Mind the trend! Enforcement of EU law has been moving to ‘Brussels’” (2017) 24(9) Journal of European Public Policy 1348 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Scholten, M and Scholten, D, “From Regulation to Enforcement in the EU Policy Cycle: A New Type of Functional Spillover?” (2017) 55(4) Journal of Common Market Studies 925 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Scholten (2017), supra, note 1.

3 Scholten, M and Ottow, A, “Institutional Design of Enforcement in the EU: the Case of Financial Markets” (2014) 10(5) Utrecht Law Review 80 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Scholten and Luchtman, supra, note 1.

5 MJJP Luchtman et al., “Investigatory powers and procedural safeguards – Improving OLAF’s legislative framework through a comparison with other EU law enforcement authorities (ECN/ESMA/ECB)” (2 May 2017) (Utrecht University).

6 Our scan included the search for terms such as “emergency”, “urgency”, and “threat”, in the legislation of EEAs.

7 TEU, Art 17.

8 Scholten and Luchtman, supra, note 1.

9 Regulation 178/2002, Art 53(1).

10 Regulation 1224/2009, Art 108(1).

12 Regulation 1005/2008, Art 36(1).

13 Reg ESAs, Art 18(1).

14 Regulation 2016/1624, Art 19(1).

15 Idem.

16 Idem.

17 COM (2015) 613 final, Art 55(1).

18 Regulation 178/2002, Art 53(1).

19 Idem.

20 Dec 2000/727, Art 2.

21 Regulation 178/2002, Art 53(1).

22 Regulation 1224/2009, Art 108(2).

23 Idem.

24 Idem.

25 Idem.

26 Idem.

27 Idem.

28 Idem.

29 Idem.

30 Idem.

31 Regulation 1005/2008, Art 36(2).

32 Idem.

33 Idem.

34 Idem.

35 Idem.

36 Idem.

37 For all applicable legislation, see: Reg ESAs, Art 1(2).

38 Reg ESAs, Art 18(4).

39 COM(2015) 613 final, Art 55(2).

40 Regulation 2016/1624, Art 19(3).

41 Idem.

42 Idem.

43 Idem.

44 Idem.

45 Idem.

46 Cf TFEU, Art 288. See, for example: Commission Decision 2008/866/EC of 12 November 2008 on emergency measures suspending imports from Peru of certain bivalve molluscs intended for human consumption [2008] OJ L307/9.

47 Regulation 178/2002, Art 53(1) in conjunction with Art 58(2); Regulation 182/2011, Art 5.

48 COM(2015) 613 final, Art 55(2) in conjunction with Art 116(2).

49 Cf Reg ESAs, Art 18(2).

50 Reg ESAs, Art 18(5).

51 Regulation 2016/1624, Art 19(1).

52 Cf Regulation 1224/2009, Art 4(19): “operator” means the natural or legal person who operates or holds any undertaking carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing, marketing, distribution and retail chains of fisheries and aquaculture products.

53 Cf supra, note 29, Reg 1095/2010, Art 4(1): “financial market participant” means any person in relation to whom a requirement in the legislation referred to in Art 1(2) or a national law implementing such legislation applies.

54 Cf supra, note 29, Reg 1094/2010, Art 4(1): “financial institutions” means undertakings, entities and natural and legal persons subject to any of the legislative acts referred to in Art 1(2). With regard to Directive 2005/60/EC, “financial institutions” means only insurance undertakings and insurance intermediaries as defined in that Directive.

55 Cf supra, note 29, Reg 1093/2010, Art 4(1): “financial institutions” means “credit institutions” as defined in Art 4(1) of Directive 2006/48/EC, “investment firms” as defined in Art 3(1)(b) of Directive 2006/49/EC, and “financial conglomerates” as defined in Art 2(14) of Directive 2002/87/EC, save that, with regard to Directive 2005/60/EC, “financial institutions” means credit institutions and financial institutions as defined in Art 3(1) and (2) of that Directive.

56 Cf COM(2015) 613 final, Art 3(10): “operator” means any legal or natural person operating or proposing to operate one or more aircraft or one or more aerodromes.

57 Cf Regulation 178/2002, preamble 17.

58 TFEU, Art 263.

59 Regulation 1224/2009, Art 108(2).

60 ibid, Art 108(1); Reg 1005/2008, Art 36(1).

61 Reg ESAs, Art 39(1).

62 ibid, Art 39(2).

63 ibid, Art 39(3).

64 ibid, Art 60(1).

65 ibid, Art 61(1).

66 ibid, Art 39(5).

67 ibid, Art 70(1).

68 ibid, Art 71.

69 ibid, Art 39(4).

70 Regulation 2016/1624, Art 71(1).

71 ibid, Art 72(1).

72 ibid, Art 72(2).

73 ibid, Art 72(3).

74 ibid, Art 74(3).

75 COM(2015) 613 final, Art 97(1).

76 ibid, Art 98.

77 ibid, Art 99.

78 ibid, Art 103(2).

79 Case C-46/87, Hoechst v Commission [1989] ECLI:EU:C:1989:337.

80 Idem, para. 19.

81 Case C-94/00, Roquette Frères [2002] ECLI:EU:C:2002:603.

82 Idem, para. 29.

83 Case C-583/13 P, Deutsche Bahn v Commission [2015] ECLI:EU:C:2015:404.

84 Deutsche Bahn v Commission, para. 32; see also R Widdershoven and P Craig, “Pertinent issues of judicial accountability in EU shared enforcement” in Scholten and Luchtman (eds), supra, note 1, pp. 249–250.

85 Case C-155/79, AM & S v Commission [1982] ECLI:EU:C:1982:157.

86 Case C-550/07, Akzo Nobel v Commission [2010] ECLI:EU:C:2010:512.

87 AM & S v Commission, paras. 21 and 24; Akzo Nobel v Commission, para. 44.

88 AM & S v Commission, para. 25.

89 Hoechst v Commission, para. 16; Case 85/87, Dow Benelux NV v Commission [1989] ECLI:EU:C:1989:379, para. 27.

90 See Case C-136/79, National Panasonic v Commission [1980] ECLI:EU:C:1980:169.

91 European Commission, Explanatory note on Commission inspections pursuant to Article 20(4) of Council Regulation No 1/2003, para. 6.

92 Giannakopoulos, T, Safeguarding Companies’ Rights in Competition and Anti-dumping/ Anti-subsidies Proceedings (Kluwer Law International 2011) 152 Google Scholar.

93 Case 234/84, Belgium v Commission [1986] ECR 2263, para. 27.

94 Case C-28/05, Dokter [2006] ECLI:EU:C:2006:408.

95 Dokter, paras. 74–75.

96 Dokter, para. 76.

97 Case C-350/88, Société française des Biscuits Delacre e.a. v Commission of the European Communities [1990] ECLI:EU:C:1990:71, para. 49.

98 ibid, para. 51.

99 See Emiliou, N, The Principle of Proportionality in European Law – A Comparative Study (Kluwer 1996)Google Scholar; Craig, P, EU Administrative Law (Oxford University Press 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sauter, W, “Proportionality in EU Law: A Balancing Act?” (2012) 15 Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies 439, 466 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

100 Case C-331/88, R v Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Secretary of State for Health, ex p Fedesa [1990] ECLI:EU:C:1990:39.

101 See, for instance, ibid, para. 13.

102 Case 183/95, Affish BV v Rijksdienst voor de keuring van Vee en Vlees [1997] ECLI:EU:C:1997:373.

103 ibid, para. 35.

104 ibid, para. 33.

105 Joined Cases C-20/00 and C-64/00, Booker Aquaculture Ltd, t/a Marine Harvest McConnell and Hydro Seafood GSP Ltd v The Scottish Ministers [2003] ECLI:EU:C:2003:397.

106 ibid, para. 68.

107 ibid, para. 79.

108 ibid, para. 84.

109 Case C-60/81, IBM v Commission [1981] ECLI:EU:C:1981:264.

110 ibid, para. 9.

111 ibid, para. 10.

112 Case T-193/04, Tillack v Commission [2006] ECLI:EU:T:2006:292, paras. 63, 64.

113 Lenaerts, K, Maselis, I, Gutman, K, EU Procedural Law (Oxford University Press 2014) 274 Google Scholar.

114 Case 25/62, Plaumann v Commission [1963] ECLI:EU:C:1963:17, paras. 106–107.

115 Lenaerts et al, supra, note 113, 319–26.

116 Case C-583/11 P, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami v Parliament and Council [2013], ECLI:EU:C:2013:625, para. 60.

117 See Eliantonio, M, “Judicial Review in an Integrated Administration: the Case of ‘Composite Procedures’” (2014) 7(2) Review of European Administrative Law 65 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

118 Türk, A, Judicial Review in EU Law (Edward Elgar 2009) 198 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

119 Case T-637/11 R, Order of the President of the General Court of 25 January 2012, Euris Consult Ltd v European Parliament [2012] ECLI:EU:T:2012:28, para. 9.

120 Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice, Art 160(3).

121 ibid.

122 Case C-280/93 R, Order of the Court of 29 June 1993, Federal Republic of Germany v Council of the European Communities, ECLI:EU:C:1993:270, para. 21; Case T-65/98, Van den Bergh Foods v Commission, [1998] ECLI:EU:T:1998:155, para. 61.

123 Case C-377/98 R, Netherlands v Parliament and Council, Order of the President of the Court of 25 July 2000, ECLI:EU:C:2000:415, para. 41.

124 Case T-52/09 R, Nycomed Danmark ApS v European Medicines Agency (EMA) [2009] ECLI:EU:T:2009:117, paras. 71–73.

125 Case T-303/04 R, European Dynamics SA v Commission of the European Communities [2004] ECLI:EU:T:2004:332, para. 66.

126 See de la Torre, FC, “Interim Measures in Community Courts: Recent Trends” (2007) 44 CMLR 273, 353 Google Scholar at 324–25.

127 Lenaerts et al., supra, note 113, 613–14.

128 Case C-180/96 R, UK v Commission [1996] ECLI:EU:C:1996:308, para. 93.

129 Case C-87/94 R, Commission v Belgium, [1994] ECLI:EU:C:1994:166, para. 40.

130 Case 152/88 R, Sofrimport v Commission [1988] ECLI:EU:C:1988:296, para. 30.

131 Case C-329/99 P(R), Pfizer Animal Health v Council [1999] ECLI:EU:C:1999:572, para. 102; Case C-459/00 P(R), Commission v Trenker [2001] ECLI:EU:C:2001:217, para. 109.

132 See Case T-417/05 R, Endesa v Commission [2006] ECLI:EU:T:2006:41, para. 37.

133 See Joined Cases C-6 & 9/90, Francovich [1991].

134 Gutman, K, “The evolution of the action for damages against the European union and its place in the system of judicial protection” (2011) 48 CMLR 710 Google Scholar et sqq.

135 Coillte Teoranta v Commission of the European Communities [2001], ECLI:EU:T:2001:124, para. 44.

11 Henceforth, where combined discussion of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) EBA, EIOPA, and ESMA so permits, their respective legal bases Regulation 1093/2010, Regulation 1094/2010, and Regulatioin 1095/2010 shall be referred to jointly as Reg ESAs.

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