Marc Jaeger, a judge at the Court of First Instance since 11 July 1996, examines how different paths for appeal within Community litigation interrelate. His analysis leads him to two conclusions: the pre-eminence of proceedings for annulment, and the autonomy of proceedings for damages, in relation to all the other paths of appeal.
In this contribution, Koen Lenaerts, Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Communities and Professor of European Law at the University of Leuven, looks at the amendments made by the Nice Treaty to the Treaty establishing the European Community and considers the future organisation of European jurisdiction and, in particular, the distribution of powers between the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance.
Extract from the judgment in the case: Commission of the European Communities v the Federal Republic of Germany (Aid for rationalisation of mining regions) relating to the admissibility of an action for failure to fulfil an obligation. It emerges from this judgment that it is a matter for the Community authorities responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Treaty are observed to take measures with a view to establishing that a State has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty. In this particular case, the Commission may bring before the Court an action for failure to fulfil an obligation since it has required from Germany, without success, the repayment of grants awarded in breach of the Treaty.
Excerpt from the Plaumann judgment relating to the admissibility of action for annulment. The Court interprets the fourth paragraph of Article 230 of the EC Treaty (former Article 173) according to which any natural or legal person may bring an action for annulment 'against a decision addressed to that person or against a decision which, although in the form of a regulation or a decision addressed to another person, is of direct and individual concern to the former'.
Excerpt from the Toepfer judgment relating to the admissibility of action for annulment. The Court answers affirmatively to the question of whether a private person may be individually concerned by a decision of the Commission addressed to a Member State.
Excerpt from the Cimenteries CBR judgment relating to the admissibility of action for annulment. It emerges that action for annulment may be brought against a measure, the legal effects of which are binding on those to whom it is addressed and affect their interests.
Excerpt from the 'Les Verts' judgment concerning the admissibility of action for annulment. The Court accepts that action for annulment may be brought against measures of the European Parliament intended to have legal effects vis-à-vis third parties.
Excerpt from the GEMA judgment relating to the admissibility of action for failure to act. Action for failure to act is only admissible if the defendant party has been called upon to act and if, after the expiration of a period of two months from such a request, the institution has not defined its position (Article 232, second paragraph, of the EC Treaty, former Article 175). In the GEMA judgment, the Court of Justice considers that the institution concerned has adopted an act which, in constituting a 'defining of position', excludes failure to act.
Extract from the Lord Bethell judgment relating to the admissibility of an action for failure to act. The action is inadmissible since the private individual who fails to act cannot complain to the Commission that it 'has failed to address to [him] any act other than a recommendation or an opinion', within the meaning of the third paragraph of Article 175 of the EC Treaty (new Article 232). By establishing the similar nature of the action for annulment and the action for failure to act, the Court lays down that the natural or legal person who brings the action has to be either the actual addressee of a decision which may be declared void or the potential addressee of a decision which a Community institution has a duty to adopt in his regard.
Excerpt from the Lütticke judgment relating to the admissibility of action for damages. It results from this judgment that action for damages constitutes an autonomous form of action with respect to action for failure to act.
Excerpt from the Schöppenstedt judgement relating to the admissibility of action for damages. It results from this judgement that action for damages constitutes an autonomous form of action with respect to action for annulment.
In an article published on 9 July 2002 in the French daily newspaper Le Monde, Isabelle Pingel-Lenuzza, Professor of Law at the University of Paris-XII Saint-Maur, explains the importance of the new interpretation given by the Court of First Instance of the European Communities in Case T-177/01 to the notion of ‘person individually concerned’ within the meaning of the EC Treaty, in order to facilitate access to the Community courts for businesses, in particular by bringing an action for annulment of an act affecting their legal situation.
Excerpt from the Simmenthal IV judgment concerning the admissibility of the application for annulment and the plea of illegality. The Court interprets former Article 184 of the EC Treaty (new Article 241) on the plea of illegality in such a way as to allow it to be invoked not only in the case of a Regulation but also with respect to any act of general application which constitutes the legal basis of the decision challenged.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities, which verifies the compatibility of legislative acts adopted by the European institutions and governments, is also competent to hear questions referred for a preliminary ruling which result in its delivering a verdict, in response to a request from a national court, on the interpretation or validity of the provisions of Community law.
In this judgment, the Court rules on its jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings concerning the validity of acts adopted by the institutions with reference to a provision of international law, in this particular case Article XI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
In the Sacchi judgment, the Court of Justice defines the notions of services (the transmission of television signals) and of goods (the physical medium for the signals). According to the Court, Article 37 of the EC Treaty (now Article 31), in the Chapter on the elimination of quantitative restrictions on the free movement of goods, refers to commercial monopolies and not to service monopolies. Accordingly, Community law does not prevent the Italian monopoly on television advertising insofar as it can be justified by ‘considerations of public interest of a non-economic nature’. However, this principle is tempered by the condition that exclusive rights of this nature must not have a discriminatory influence on trade between Member States, and by the application of the rules on competition, in particular Article 90 (now Article 86).
In the CILFIT judgment, the Court of Justice sets limits to the obligation to make a reference for a preliminary ruling, which, according to the third paragraph of Article 177 of the EEC Treaty (now Article 234 of the EC Treaty), falls to the national courts of last instance. Those courts are bound to bring a matter before the Court when, in connection with a case, and irrespective of the considerations of the parties involved, a question arises concerning the interpretation of Community law. It falls to the national judge, therefore, to determine whether the question is relevant.
According to the Foto-Frost judgment, national courts may consider the validity of a Community act. However, national courts themselves have no jurisdiction to declare that a Community act is invalid (in this case, a Commission decision). Only the Court of Justice, responsible for ensuring that Community law is applied uniformly in all the Member States, has the jurisdiction both to declare void or invalid an act of a Community institution.
Pierre Pescatore, Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Communities from 1967 to 1985, explains how national judges, by virtue of the initiative that they take by referring to the Court for a preliminary ruling, and by the very way in which the question is posed, can influence the development of Community case-law.
In this interview, Pierre Pescatore, Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Communities from 1967 to 1985, outlines the nature of the relationship between a national judge and a Community judge, with particular regard to the reference for a preliminary ruling procedure.
Excerpt from the 'grounds' of the Vidrányi judgment as an example of an appeal brought by an official of the European Communities against a judgment of the Court of First Instance. One of the claims in the appeal (for compensation by the Commission for the loss suffered by the appellant) is inadmissible for the reason that the subject matter of the proceedings before the Court of First Instance may not be changed in the appeal. The Court of Justice then examines the appellant's second claim (the annulment of a Commission decision), this examination being limited to points of law, excluding any evaluation of facts.
Excerpt concerning the admissibility of the request for an Opinion. The Council consults the Court on compatibility with the EC Treaty of the Community's accession to an international agreement (the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms). The Court concludes that it may, in this particular case, give its opinion on Community competence to proceed to accession, but that it may not, in the absence of detailed information about the content of the agreement, give an opinion on the compatibility of accession with the Treaty provisions.