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EU organic law: dispute resolution directly at the European Court of Justice
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The Luxembourg Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) shall facilitate direct action for annulment in Luxembourg for companies affected by implementing regulations and delegated regulations in any way whatsoever. This was pointed out by attorney Hanspeter Schmidt from Freiburg, and confirmed by a decision of the European Court of Justice of December 2017.
In this case, a company dealing in organic iridescent shark from Vietnam had brought an action against the Commission's implementing regulation (EU) 1358/2014 amending the organic aquaculture rules. The company argued that the regulation has an adverse economic impact for its business, while it provides for long-term exemptions for other organic fish producers at the same time. In order to ensure equal conditions, the regulation must therefore be annulled. Then the Commission could create a new, fair transitional arrangement. In the first instance, the court dismissed this action as inadmissible. The ECJ, as the second instance, annulled the decision and referred the case back to the court of first instance. In the explanatory statement, the ECJ stated that the company certainly has a legal interest in the matter and that the action therefore has to be negotiated.
Organic companies should remain vigilant
For Hanspeter Schmidt, this decision is of strategic importance beyond the individual case, “because it opens the way to direct appeals of the 30 or 40 Commission regulations, which will be necessary in the next two years to make the new EU organic law applicable in practice”. There are many legal and economic issues here. “Now, they can be clarified directly in Luxembourg.” To date, organic disputes have only been settled after years of litigation through the three instances of German administrative jurisdiction in Luxembourg. Schmidt: “Particularly organic companies should remain vigilant and reflect about the consequences of the many new regulations. The timeframe for their claims closes two months after publication in the official journal.”