In the case of Case T-173/98 P, UPA [1999] ECR II-3357, the General Court laid out the test required for the standing of private parties (individual) applied to associations under Article 263 TFEU.

Facts of Case T-173/98 P, UPA [1999] ECR II-3357

  • UPA, a trade association representing and acting in the interests of small Spanish farmers, brought an action
  • They sought to annul the Council Regulation withdrawing aid granted to the producers of olive oil with Article 173 of the EEC Treaty (now Article 263 TFEU) as the legal basis
  • The regulation did not require implementing measures and therefore the validity of such measure could not be contested in national court
  • UPA argued the Community law denied them their right of effective judicial protection by not allowing them standing for a direct action to annul the measure before the European Court of Justice

Issues in Case T-173/98 P, UPA [1999] ECR II-3357

  • Were the UPA correct in believing they should be given a standing?

Held by the European Union General Court

  • No, the UPA had no standing as the test for individual concern was not met by the association.

Findings of the Court

Individual concern may apply to a legislative measure, in certain circumstances [45]

However, to be able to establish such, “natural or legal persons must be able to show that they are affected by the measure in question by reason of certain attributes which are peculiar to them or by reason of factual circumstances in which they are differentiated from all other persons” [46]

The three circumstances where actions brought by associations may be held to be admissible are: [47]

  1. “when a legal provision expressly grants a series of procedural powers to trade associations;”
  2. “when the association represents the interests of undertakings which would, themselves, be entitled to bring proceedings;”
  3. “when the association is distinguished individually because its own interests as an association are affected, in particular because its negotiating position has been affected by the measure whose annulment is being sought”

None of which could be relied upon by UPA in the present case [48]

  • “the applicant has no rights of a procedural nature under the common organisation of the markets in the oils and fats sector (see the order of the Court of First Instance in Case T-38/98 ANB and Others ŒΩ Council [1998] ECR II-4191, paragraph 27), which would moreover be affected by the provisions of the contested regulation. ” [49]
  • Nor has UPA established their members to be affected by the regulation “by reason of certain attributes which are peculiar to them or by reason of factual circumstances in which they are differentiated from all other persons. ” [50]
  • The regulation does not affect some of UPA’s specific interests, either [53]

Principle of effective legal protection:

  • The factors UPA mentioned do not give reason for the Court to depart from the legal remedies established by Article 173 (now Article 263 TFEU), as interpreted by case-law [63]
  • Nor can UPA “validly base any argument on the possible length of proceedings under Article 177 of the Treaty. That circumstance cannot justify a change in the system of remedies and procedures established by Articles 173, 177 and 178 of the EC Treaty (now Article 235 EC) which is designed to give the Court of Justice the power to review the legality of acts of the institutions. In no case can such an argument enable an action for annulment brought by a natural or legal person which does not satisfy the conditions laid down by the fourth paragraph of Article 173 of the Treaty to be declared admissible ” [64]