Language of document :

Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 26 January 2021 (requests for a preliminary ruling from the Bundesverwaltungsgericht – Germany) – Johannes Dietrich (C-422/19), Norbert Häring (C-423/19) v Hessischer Rundfunk

(Joined Cases C-422/19 and C-423/19) 1

(Reference for a preliminary ruling – Economic and monetary policy – Article 2(1) and Article 3(1)(c) TFEU – Monetary policy – Exclusive competence of the European Union – Article 128(1) TFEU – Protocol (No 4) on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank – Article 16, first paragraph – Concept of ‘legal tender’ – Effects – Obligation to accept euro banknotes – Regulation (EC) No 974/98 – Whether possible for Member States to impose limitations on payments by means of banknotes and coins denominated in euro – Conditions – Regional legislation precluding the payment in cash of a radio and television licence fee to a regional public broadcasting body)

Language of the case: German

Referring court

Bundesverwaltungsgericht

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicants: Johannes Dietrich (C-422/19), Norbert Häring (C-423/19)

Defendant: Hessischer Rundfunk

Operative part of the judgment

Article 2(1) TFEU, read in conjunction with Article 3(1)(c), Article 128(1) and Article 133 TFEU, and with the third sentence of the first paragraph of Article 16 of Protocol (No 4) on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, must be interpreted as meaning that, irrespective of any exercise by the European Union of its exclusive competence in the area of monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro, it precludes a Member State from adopting a provision which, in the light of its objective and its content, establishes legal rules governing the status of legal tender of euro banknotes. It does not, however, preclude a Member State from adopting, in the exercise of a competence that is the Member State’s own, such as the organisation of its public administration, a provision which requires that administration to accept payment in cash for the pecuniary obligations imposed by the administration.

The third sentence of Article 128(1) TFEU, the third sentence of the first paragraph of Article 16 of Protocol (No 4) on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, and the second sentence of Article 10 of Council Regulation (EC) No 974/98 of 3 May 1998 on the introduction of the euro must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which excludes the possibility of discharging a statutorily imposed payment obligation in banknotes denominated in euro, provided (i) that that legislation does not have the object or effect of establishing legal rules governing the status of legal tender of such banknotes; (ii) that it does not lead, in law or in fact, to abolition of those banknotes, in particular by calling into question the possibility, as a general rule, of discharging a payment obligation in cash; (iii) that it has been adopted for reasons of public interest; (iv) that the limitation on payments in cash which the legislation entails is appropriate for attaining the public interest objective pursued; and (v) that it does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective, in that other lawful means of discharging the payment obligation are available.

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1 OJ C 288, 26.8.2019.