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Title:
Commission of the European Communities, applicant, v. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, defendant
Party:
European Union
Region:
Europe
Europe
Type of document:
International court
Date of text:
October 12, 2004
Data source:
InforMEA
Court name:
European Court of Justice
Seat of court:
Luxembourg
Justice(s):
Rosas, A.
Borg, B., A.
Macken, F.
von Bahr, S.
Lohmus, U.
Reference number:
C-431/02
ECOLEX subject(s):
Waste & hazardous substances
Abstract:
The Commission of the European Communities sought a declaration from the Court that, by failing to adopt all the measures necessary to comply with its obligations under Articles 1(4) and (5), 2(1), (2) and (4), 3(1) to (4), 4(1) to (3) and 5(1) and (2) of Council Directive 91/689/EEC of 12 December 1991 on hazardous waste, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had failed to fulfill its obligations under that Directive and under the EC Treaty. Under Article 5(1) of the Directive the Member States were required to take the measures necessary to ensure that, in the course of collection, transport and temporary storage, waste was properly packaged and labeled in accordance with the international and Community standards in force. With respect to Gibraltar, the Commission stated that the transposition measures applicable there, which did not have any packaging-related requirements, were too limited. The Court emphasized that it should be borne in mind that, in an action for failure to fulfill obligations, the purpose of the pre-litigation procedure was to give the Member State concerned an opportunity to comply with its obligations under Community law and to defend itself against the charges formulated by the Commission. The proper conduct of that procedure constituted an essential guarantee required by the Treaty not only in order to protect the rights of the Member State concerned, but also so as to ensure that any contentious procedure would have a clearly defined dispute as its subject-matter. An application under Article 226 EC had to contain a cogent and detailed exposition of the reasons which led the Commission to the conclusion that the Member State concerned had failed to fulfill one of its obligations under the Treaty. The part of the complaint relating only to Gibraltar did not meet those conditions. First, the commission confined itself to a mere statement in the letter of formal notice to the effect that the transposition measures for Article 5(1) of the Directive in Gibraltar were too limited, without explaining either to which Community standards in force in Gibraltar itself that provision referred or exactly which measures were required there under. The Commission had failed to indicate in those documents in a cogent, comprehensible and detailed manner the essential elements of fact and law on which the action was based. Second, the Commission had stated in its reply that, notwithstanding the physical or legal impossibility of implementing those standards in Gibraltar, the United Kingdom Government had to find another solution for ensuring that hazardous waste was packaged and labeled properly. The Commission failed to state in a cogent and detailed manner, however, exactly what that solution could comprise. It followed that the action was inadmissible in so far as it concerned the complaint alleging incomplete transposition of Article 5(1) of the Directive in Gibraltar. As far as the remainder of the application was concerned, the United Kingdom Government admitted it that had not complied, within the prescribed period, with its obligations under Article 1(4), first and second indents, and (5), Article 2(1), (2) and (4), Article 3(1) to (4), Article 4(1) to (3) and Article 5(2) of the Directive and that the action was well founded in that respect. Accordingly, the Court held the United Kingdom had failed to fulfill its obligations under that Directive and under the EC Treaty.