Language of document :

Action brought on 23 March 2018 — European Commission v Republic of Austria

(Case C-209/18)

Language of the case: German


Applicant: European Commission (represented by: G. Braun and H. Tserepa-Lacombe, acting as Agents)

Defendant: Republic of Austria

Form of order sought

The applicant claims that the Court should:

1.    hold that, by upholding requirements with regard to registered offices for patent law companies under Paragraph 29a(7), in conjunction with Paragraph 2(1)(c), of the Patentanwaltsgesetz (Law on patent lawyers; ‘the PatAnwG’) and for civil engineering companies under Paragraph 25(1) of the Ziviltechnikergesetz (Law on civil engineers; ‘the ZTG’), with regard to the legal form and the share capital ownership of civil engineering companies under Paragraphs 26(1) and 28(1) of the ZTG, patent law companies under Paragraph 29a(1), (2) and (11) of the PatAnwG and veterinary companies under Paragraph 15a(1) of the Tierärztegesetz (Law on veterinarians) and the limitation on multidisciplinary activities for civil engineering companies under Paragraph 21(1) of the ZTG and for patent law companies under Paragraph 29(6) of the PatAnwG, the Republic of Austria has infringed its obligations under Article 14(1), Article 15(1), (2)(b) and (c) and (3), and Article 25 of the Services Directive 1 and under Articles 49 TFEU and 56 TFEU;

2.    order the Republic of Austria to pay the costs of the proceedings.

Pleas in law and main arguments

In support of the action, the applicant claims as follows:

Austrian law still contains requirements with regard to the registered offices of professional companies of civil engineers and patent lawyers that infringe Article 14(1)(b) of the Services Directive. The provisions discriminate directly through the registered office of the company and indirectly through the nationality of the company’s shareholders.

The requirements with regard to the legal form and the share capital ownership of companies of civil engineers, patent lawyers and veterinarians impede both Austrian service providers as well as the establishment of new service providers from other Member States in so far as they limit the capacity of those providers to open a second branch in Austria if they do not adapt their organisational structures in order to comply with those provisions.

The Austrian conditions requiring those particular professional companies to confine their activities to professional patent law services and civil engineering services infringe Article 25 of the Services Directive, as they limit both the establishment in Austria of second branches of multidisciplinary professional companies from other Member States as well as the establishment of first branches of such Austrian companies. This impedes the development of new, innovative business models that would place undertakings in a position to offer a wider range of services.


1 Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (OJ 2006 L 376, p. 36).