C-58/08 Vodafone [2010]

C-58/08 R (Vodafone Ltd) v Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform [2010] ECR I-4999 involves Vodafone Ltd, along with other major telecommunication companies, challenging the legal basis and proportionality of Roaming Regulation 717/2007, which set caps on charges for roaming services between member states in the European Union. The regulation aimed to address high roaming charges and ensure a coherent framework for market functioning, consumer protection, and competition.

Vodafone Ltd, among other companies, contended that the regulation lacked a legal basis under TEC art 95 (now TFEU art 114) and argued that it was disproportionate and contrary to the principle of subsidiarity. The regulation imposed ceilings on wholesale and retail charges for roaming services, along with an obligation to inform customers about these charges.

Advocate General Maduro opined that there was no lack of proportionality in price regulation. However, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Grand Chamber rejected the claim that the regulation had no legal basis. It emphasised the necessity of TEC art 95 measures to improve the internal market and noted that the regulation aimed to establish a coherent framework for market functioning, consumer protection, and competition.

The CJEU underscored the general principle of proportionality in Community law, requiring measures to be appropriate and not exceeding what is necessary to achieve legitimate objectives. The court acknowledged the broad discretion of the Community legislature in making complex assessments but insisted on the use of objective criteria. It concluded that the regulation's imposition of ceilings on retail charges was appropriate for protecting consumers against high charges.

The court addressed the principle of subsidiarity, stating that the regulation's common approach was necessary to maintain competition among mobile network operators and contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market. The interdependence of wholesale and retail charges justified a joint approach, and the court ruled that the regulation did not infringe the principle of subsidiarity.

In summary, the CJEU upheld the legality and proportionality of Roaming Regulation 717/2007, rejecting the claims made by Vodafone Ltd and other telecom companies. The court's decision emphasised the necessity of a common approach to address the interdependence of charges and maintain a coherent regulatory framework for roaming services within the EU.
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