CJEU Joined Cases C-422/19 & C-423/19 | Johannes Dietrich and Norbert Häring v Hessischer Rundfunk

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Publication Date 2019-2021
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Summary:

Information Guide concerning two cases from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerning the monetary policy of the Eurozone Member States and the obligation to accept euro banknotes.

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Two German citizens offered to pay their radio and television licence fee to Hesse's broadcasting body (Hessischer Rundfunk) in cash. Invoking its regulations on the procedure for payment of such fees, the body refused their offer and sent them payment notices. The citizens brought an action against those notices and the dispute reached the German Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht). The court noted that the exclusion of the possibility of payment the fee by means of euro banknotes infringes a higher-ranking provision of federal law, under which euro banknotes are to be unrestricted legal tender.

Even so, queried whether that provision of federal law is compatible with the exclusive EU competence when it comes to monetary policy for Euro Area Member States, and referred the matter to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. It also asked whether the status as legal tender of banknotes denominated in Euro prohibited the public authorities from ruling out the possibility of a statutorily imposed payment obligation being discharged in cash. On 26 January 2021, the Court of Justice ruled that a Eurozone Member State can oblige its administration to accept payments in cash, but can also limit that payment option on public interest grounds. It added that such a limitation could be justified where payment in cash is likely to involve the administration in unreasonable expense because of the very high number of persons liable to pay.

Related Link(s)
Official
CJEU CURIA: Case C-422/19 | Hessischer Rundfunk http://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=C-422/19
CJEU CURIA: Case C-423/19 | Hessischer Rundfunk http://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=C-423/19
CJEU: Press Release No 8/21, 26/01/2021: Judgment in Joined Cases C-422/19 and C-423/19 Johannes Dietrich and Norbert Häring v Hessischer Rundfunk https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-01/cp210008en.pdf

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