ECJ considers pesticide trade rules

The European Court of Justice has been asked to look at laws controlling the cross-border trade of products designed to protect plants - primarily pesticides and fungicides.

The ECJ was asked to provide a preliminary ruling regarding the interpretation of Articles 28 EC and 30 EC and of Council Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market.

Under Article 28 EC, quantitative restrictions on imports and measures having an equivalent effect are prohibited between Member States. However, Article 30 EC provides that prohibitions or restrictions on imports between Member States which are justified on grounds of the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants are permitted provided that they do not constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on intra-Community trade.

The Directive 91/414/EEC establishes uniform rules on the conditions and procedures for authorisation to place plant protection products on the market and for their review and withdrawal.

The Court ruled that a Member State may subject to a simplified marketing authorisation procedure the parallel import of a plant protection product from another Member State in which it already has the benefit of such an authorisation, where the importation is made by a farmer solely for the needs of his farm, and the marketing authorisation thus granted is personal to each operator.

It cannot be made a condition of that authorisation that the imported product be named with the brand name belonging to the operator concerned where he is a farmer who is making the parallel importation solely for the needs of his own farm.

That authorisation cannot be subject to payment of a charge which bears no relation to the costs incurred by the control or the administrative steps needed for examination of the authorisation application.

An appraisal of such costs as a fixed sum is however permissible provided that the principle of proportionality is observed.

Judgement: C-260/06/C-261/06 may be accessed via the website of the ECJ at the following link.

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