Freedom of establishment for pharmacies: infringement proceedings against Germany and Portugal
European Commission - IP/08/1352 18/09/2008
Brussels, 18 September 2008
The European Commission has taken action to put an end to obstacles to the freedom of establishment in Germany and Portugal, by formally requesting these two Member States to modify their legislation on the ownership of pharmacies. These requests take the form of 'reasoned opinions', the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
Germany – prohibition for non-pharmacists on owning pharmacies and prohibition on owning more than four pharmacies
The Commission has decided to formally request Germany to review its rules on ownership of pharmacies. These rules reserve the ownership of pharmacies to pharmacists or partnerships consisting solely of pharmacists. Moreover, the German legislation prohibits ownership of more than one main pharmacy and three branch offices. Finally, the legislation requires proximity between the main pharmacy and the branch offices. The Commission considers that these measures are in conflict with the freedom of establishment, enshrined in Article 43 of the EC Treaty, since they cannot be justified for reasons of health protection.
Portugal – prohibition for medicines wholesaling companies on owning pharmacies and prohibition on owning more than four pharmacies
The Commission has also decided to formally request Portugal to review its rules on ownership of pharmacies. Under these rules, companies active in the wholesaling of medicines are not allowed to own or manage pharmacies. Moreover, the Portuguese legislation prohibits ownership of more than four pharmacies. Again, in the Commission's view, these requirements are disproportionate to guaranteeing the protection of health and therefore are not compatible with the freedom of establishment, enshrined in Article 43 of the EC Treaty.
The latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member
States can be found at:
The latest information concerning the internal market and pharmacies can be found at: