Case C-304/02, Commission v France
France has had a record fine of €20 million imposed upon it by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The fine was imposed on France due to a breach of EU fisheries conservation law aimed at protecting Europe's diminishing fish stocks.
Having been condemned back in 1991 for its failure to comply with EU fisheries conservation rules, France has failed to comply with the ruling ever since and following a second court ruling in the case, now faces the double fine of a lump sum of €20 million plus €57.8 million every six months until it complies.
Even if France were to ensure compliance within the next six months and avoid the half yearly penalty, the lump sum imposed remains the largest fine levied on an EU Member State to date.
The imposition of such a fine highlights that a tougher stance may now be taken by the ECJ against Member States for breach of European laws, and can only serve as a warning to other EU Member States to ensure compliance in this respect.
The threat of immediate fines of this degree will therefore increase pressure on Member States for early compliance though it is likely that further cases of this sort will arise especially in the realm of environmental compliance given pending court cases for persistent failure to comply with laws on environmental impact assessment to name just one example.
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