Stichting Zuid-Hollandse Milieufederatie v Minister van Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit

The Second Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Communities has made a preliminary ruling on the transitional provisions of Directive 91/414/EC on the placing of plant protection products on the market and those of Directive 98/8/EC on the placing of biocidal products on the market.

The Court ruled that Article 16(1) of Directive 98/8 has the same meaning as Article 8(2) of Directive 91/414. It further ruled that Article 8(2) is not to be interpreted as a ‘standstill’ obligation, as this cannot be inferred from its actual wording.

It stated that Member States had the right to amend their systems for the authorisation of plant protection products during the transitional period, but that this right could not be regarded as unlimited.

The Court went on to state that although Member States were not obliged to transpose the directive before the end of the prescribed period, Article 10 EC paragraph 2 and Article 249 EC, as well as the directive itself, made it clear that during the transposition period Member States must not take measures liable to seriously compromise the result prescribed by the directive.

The same was true for a transitional period. It was stated that in amending the applicable legislation so as to allow authorisation of a plant protection product coming within the scope of Article 8(2) without taking due account of the effects which that product might have on the environment and human and animal health, the result prescribed by the directive would be seriously compromised.

The Court went on to state that when the authorities of a Member State consider effects on the environment and on human and animal health, any decisions on authorisation must be taken solely on the basis of a dossier comprising the necessary information for making a genuine assessment of such effects.

The Court stated that Article 13(1) of Directive 91/414 is not to be interpreted as allowing Member States to exempt persons applying for an authorisation for a plant protection product entirely from their obligation to prepare a dossier.

It went on to state that Article 8(2) is to be interpreted as meaning that where a Member State authorises the placing on the market in its territory of plant protection products containing active substances not referred to in Annex I that were already on the market 2 years after the date of notification of the directive, it is not required to comply with the provisions of Article 4 or Article 8(3).

It was for the national court to decide whether an evaluation carried out pursuant to provisions of national law corresponds to all the characteristics of a ‘review’ within the meaning of Article 8(3).

Article 8(3) is to be interpreted as meaning that it contains only provisions relating to the provision of data prior to a review.

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