Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 26 February 2013 (request for a preliminary ruling from the Haparanda tingsrätt – Sweden) – Åklagaren v Hans Åkerberg Fransson
(Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Field of application – Article 51 – Implementation of European Union law – Punishment of conduct prejudicial to own resources of the European Union – Article 50 – Ne bis in idem principle – National system involving two separate sets of proceedings, administrative and criminal, to punish the same wrongful conduct – Compatibility)
Request for a preliminary ruling – Haparanda tingsrätt – Interpretation of Article 6 TEU and Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – National case-law requiring a clear basis in the European Convention on Human Rights or the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in order to disapply provisions of national law liable to be contrary to the ne bis in idem principle – National legislation under which the same conduct contrary to tax law may be punished both administratively by a tax surcharge and criminally by a term of imprisonment – Compatibility with the ne bis in idem principle of a national system involving two separate sets of proceedings to punish the same wrongful conduct
Operative part of the judgment
1. The ne bis in idem principle laid down in Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union does not preclude a Member State from imposing successively, for the same acts of non-compliance with declaration obligations in the field of value added tax, a tax penalty and a criminal penalty in so far as the first penalty is not criminal in nature, a matter which is for the national court to determine.
2. European Union law does not govern the relations between the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, and the legal systems of the Member States, nor does it determine the conclusions to be drawn by a national court in the event of conflict between the rights guaranteed by that convention and a rule of national law.
European Union law precludes a judicial practice which makes the obligation for a national court to disapply any provision contrary to a fundamental right guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union conditional upon that infringement being clear from the text of the Charter or the case-law relating to it, since it withholds from the national court the power to assess fully, with, as the case may be, the cooperation of the Court of Justice of the European Union, whether that provision is compatible with the Charter.