Commission clashes with companies over plant protection product ingredients

The European Commission has challenged two companies over the inclusion of a chemical in their plant protection products

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) made an Order of the Court on 24 March 2006, in the case of Sumitomo Chemical Agro Europe SAS (Sumitomo) and Philagro France SAS (Philagro) v Commission. The case concerned an application by Sumitomo and Philagro, firstly, for suspension of the operation of a decision allegedly contained in a letter from the Commission of 20 October 2005 and, secondly, for the grant of certain interim measures regarding the administrative procedure conducted before the Commission for the inclusion of procymidone in Annex I to Council Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market. The Directive sets out the Community regime applicable to authorisations in order to place plant protection products on the market and withdrawal of such authorisations. Article 4 of the Directive provides that 'Member States shall ensure that a plant protection product is not authorised unless ... its active substances are listed in Annex I'. Sumitomo therefore notified the Commission that it wished to secure the inclusion of procymidone in Annex I to Directive 91/414/EC.

While the Commission put forward a draft directive concerning the inclusion of procymidone in Annex I to Directive 91/414, it thereafter informed Sumitomo that it was considering not including procymidone in Annex I to Directive 91/414, stating that 'it [did] not seem possible to conclude that it [could] be expected that, under the proposed conditions of use, plant protection products containing procymidone would satisfy in general the requirements laid down in Article 5(1)(a) and (b) of Directive 91/414'. Following responses received from Sumitomo, the Director-General of the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General of the Commission replied by letter of 20 October 2005 (which letter was the contested measure).

While the applicants sought that the contested measure should be suspended as far as the limited inclusion of procymidone in Annex I to Directive 91/414 was concerned, that the draft Commission directive amending Directive 91/414 to include procymidone as an active substance and any vote upon it, should also be suspended, and that the Commission should be ordered to further extend the time period referred to in Article 8(2) of Directive 91/414 as regards procymidone, so as to allow Member States to continue granting authorisations for procymidone-based products after 31 December 2006, the Court dismissed the application for interim measures.

The full Order of the Court is available at the following link: click here


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