Case C-547/14 Philip Morris v. Secretary of State for Health (4 May 2016)

Key point

  • Measures that only partially harmonise national rules are competent under Article 114 TFEU


  • Directive 2014/40 which standardised the packaging of cigarettes and permitted member states to introduce further requirements beyond the directive
  • Philip Morris and British American Tobacco sought judicial review against its implementation
  • The English High Court sought a preliminary reference on its validity


  • The directive was valid

Judgment (Court of Justice)

The directive falls within Article 114

  • There were disparities in the national rules, which were likely to increase in the absence of action
  • Though the Directive introduces or preserves differences in national rules, other aspects of the packaging were harmonised
  • Furthermore, it is within the discretion of the EU legislature under Article to proceed towards harmonisation in stages
  • Although future national requirements might impede free movement, partial harmonisation still promotes the functioning of the internal market

The directive is proportionate

  • Once the primary objective of harmonisation for the internal market is taken into account, the directive is not manifestly inappropriate

The directive meets the principle of subsidiarity

  • The Directive has two objectives:
    1. Facilitate functioning of the internal market for tobacco
    2. Ensuring protection of human health especially for the young
  • Even if the second objective could be better achieved at the state level, it would create divergences that would defeat the first objective
  • The interdependence of the two objectives means that the EU could legitimately so act


  • Proportionality is automatically treated as fulfilled if the directive falls within the competence of Article 114