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    Flemish decree on languages infringes European law

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) considered on Tuesday that the Flemish linguistic provisions which bind the use of Dutch when rendering cross-border invoices “effectively amount to a restriction on the free movement of goods in the EU.” The Court held that the obligation to render cross-border invoices exclusively in a specific language, otherwise making them invalid, infringes European law. It had been asked by the Commercial Court of Ghent to rule upon an issue in litigation relating to unpaid invoices between New Valmar, a company established in Flanders, and the company Global Pharmacies Partner Health (GPPH), based in Milan, Italy.

    The parties should be able to produce such invoices in another language, which should be of equal legal validity as those rendered in the official language, the ECJ stressed.

    Per the Flemish provisions, companies established in the region concerned, up to now, have only been able to use Dutch when writing, amongst other documentation, those deeds and documents required by law. However, as stated above, the judges in Luxembourg considered  today that this rule governing language “effectively amounts to a restriction on the free movement of goods within the EU.”

    Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)