• In the case of Case C-50/00 P, UPA [2002] ECR I-6677, having considered Advocate General Jacobs’ opinion, the European Court of Justice rejected his opinion that there should be individual concern where a person is adversely affected by a Community law measure.

Facts of Case C-50/00 P, UPA [2002] ECR I-6677

  • UPA, a trade association of farmers, brought proceedings seeking to partially annul Council Regulation 136/66 which withdrew consumption aid granted to small olive oil producers pursuant to Article 173 (now Article 263 TFEU)
  • The Court of First Instance held that the members of the association were not individually concerned
  • This was because they would be in the same situation as other traders who may enter the markets, either at that point or at some time in the future
  • Following this decision, the association appealed, arguing that effective judicial protections would be rendered hollow if UPA could not appeal the measure at hand

Issues in Case C-50/00 P, UPA [2002] ECR I-6677

  • Did the applicant have individual concern in the measure, therefore having legal standing to challenge the council regulation?

Held by the European Court of Justice

  • Appeal dismissed. Agreeing with the decision of the Court of First Instance, the appellant had no standing.

Findings of the Court

The national courts should have the appropriate measures in place:

  • “in accordance with the principle of sincere cooperation laid down in Article 5 of the Treaty, national courts are required, so far as possible, to interpret and apply national procedural rules governing the exercise of rights of action in a way that enables natural and legal persons to challenge … the legality of any decision or other national measure relative to the application to them of a Community act of general application, by pleading the invalidity of such an act.” [42]

Agreeing with the AG’s opinion, it is not for the CJEU to look at “each individual case, to examine and interpret national procedural law” as this “would go beyond its jurisdiction when reviewing the legality of Community measures.” [43]

Advocate General Jacobs’ differing opinion from the CJEU:

AG Jacobs believed proceedings before national courts cannot guarantee “fully effective judicial protection” for individual applicants [40]; he outlined:

  1. “… national courts are not competent to declare measures of Community law invalid … a case concerning the validity of a Community measure, the competence of the national court is limited to assessing whether the applicant’s arguments raise sufficient doubts about the validity of the impugned measure to justify a request for a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice. It seems to me, therefore, artificial to argue that the national courts are the correct forum for such cases. The strictly limited competence of national courts in cases concerning the validity of Community measures may be contrasted with the important role which they play in cases concerning the interpretation, application and enforcement of Community law” [41]
  2. “principle of effective judicial protection requires that applicants have access to a court which is competent to grant remedies capable of protecting them against the effects of unlawful measures. Access to the Court of Justice via Article 234 EC is however not a remedy available to individual applicants as a matter of right. National courts may refuse to refer questions, and although courts of last instance are obliged to refer under the third paragraph of Article 234 EC, appeals within the national judicial systems are liable to entail long delays which may themselves be incompatible with the principle of effective judicial protection and with the need for legal certainty.” [42]
  3. An individual may find it difficult or impossible “to challenge Community measures which – as appears to be the case for the contested regulation – do not require any acts of implementation by national authorities.” [43]
  4. “proceedings before the national courts present serious disadvantages for individual applicants … potential for delay inherent in proceedings brought before domestic courts, with the possibility of appeals within the national system, makes it likely that interim measures will be necessary in many cases … the exercise of that jurisdiction is subject to a number of conditions and is … to some extent dependent on the discretion of national courts … interim measures awarded by a national court would be confined to the Member State in question, and applicants might therefore have to bring proceedings in more than one Member State. That would, given the possibility of conflicting decisions by courts in different Member States, prejudice the uniform application of Community law, and in extreme cases could totally subvert it.” [44]

AG Jacobs was of the opinion that it should be accepted one is “individually concerned by a Community measure where, by reason of his particular circumstances, the measure has, or is liable to have, a substantial adverse effect on his interests” [60] – the CJEU did not agree with this proposed test.