Slovak Spectator | 11 May 2016
Health insurers’ profit dispute sent to the EU court
Slovakia has made a step towards reversing an arbitration ruling over the ban of generating profits on private health insurers, the Finance Ministry says.
Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) issued a verdict in favour of Slovakia in the dispute over reversing the ruling issued by the arbitration court in its dispute with company Achmea, a shareholder of the private health insurer Union, over the ban for health insurers to generate profits.
The court accepted Slovakia’s request to pass the dispute on to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which should now judge whether an international agreement on supporting and protecting the investments between Slovakia and the Netherlands complies with the EU laws. Based on this judgement, the GBH should issue the final verdict in the case, the Finance Ministry informed in a press release.
“This is a precedent in the history of the Slovak and I think also the European judiciary,” Finance Minister Peter Kažimír said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “It’s exactly the step we expected, and one that might mean an absolute reversal in the given dispute. We have assumed since the very beginning that the verdicts of lower-instance courts were damaging the interests of our country and contradicted EU legislation.”
From the Finance Ministry’s viewpoint, the case has thus moved significantly towards a potential reversal of the arbitration verdict.
“The Slovak Republic couldn’t have done more in this dispute, and the Finance Ministry believes in the successful conclusion of this issue,” the ministry claimed in its press release, pointing to the fact that the European Commission also stated that the international agreement contradicts EU legislation.
Slovakia lost a legal dispute with Achmea in December 2012. An international arbitration tribunal obliged the country to pay compensation equalling €22 million to Achmea for lost profits, plus its legal costs amounting to €3 million. Slovakia one month later appealed to the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt. Following a negative verdict in response to Slovakia’s appeal, the Slovak government submitted an appeal to BGH, TASR wrote.