ZAGREB, April 21, 2018 – The President of the European Union Court of Justice Koen Lenaerts has expressed doubts about the legal path Slovenia has chosen after it sent a letter to the European Commission announcing a lawsuit against Croatia regarding the two countries border arbitration process, stressing that the best solution is for Slovenia and Croatia to present the case to the EU Court of Justice in agreement.
In an interview carried by the Slovenian news agency STA, Lenaerts said he was well acquainted with the context of the Croatia-Slovenia case, adding that late last year he visited the supreme courts of both countries, as part of informal dialogue.
Lenaerts said it would have been more appropriate for the two countries to resolve the dispute in another way, namely to present the case jointly to the EU Court of Justice in agreement, under Article 273 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. He said an excellent example was the case between Austria and Germany in which Austria claimed that Germany was acting contrary to their agreement on taxes on interest rates income generated in Germany.
If a dispute between two member states does not directly refer to the EU legislation, the EU Court of Justice cannot voice its opinion about it, unless the member states in question reach an agreement to jointly present the case, within the frameworks of the proceedings from Article 273 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, Lenaerts said.
According to STA, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said it could not comment on Lenaert’s statement.
In reaction to Lenaert’s statement, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar reiterated the official position of his government according to which Croatia was in violation of European and international law because it refused to implement a ruling handed down by an international court.