Free movement of Goods

One of the key principles of the European Union (EU/EEC), European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is the ‘Internal Market’ in which goods and services should be able to move freely between the member states. The principle of Free Movement has a major bearing on many aspects of European law and the ability of parties and courts to control the movement of goods once they have entered the EU, including such issues as Exhaustion.

In particular Articles 28 and 29 of the TFEU (formerly the Treaty of Amsterdam (Rome)) prohibit quantitative restrictions on imports, exports or goods in transit and all measures having equivalent effect between Member States. All measures that might hinder directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, such imports are considered “equivalent measures.”

The principle does not in principle preclude prohibitions justified on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security, the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants, or the protection of industrial and commercial property, but such rules can be attacked on grounds of proportionality. The principle of free movement of goods has been extended to include the free movement of services by various items of EU legislation.

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