France allowed to restrict pesticide imports
France has been told that laws which effectively block the import of certain pesticides do not amount to a breech of free trade agreements.
The European Court of Justice has held that French rules, requiring parallel imports of pesticides to share a common origin with pesticide products already authorised in France, thus restricting the simplified authorisation procedure for parallel importation, do not constitute a restriction on free trade.
The European Commission claimed that the absence of common origin, in respect of pesticides which were not significantly different, did not justify refusal of parallel imports and went beyond what was considered necessary to protect public health and the environment.
However, France insisted that establishing common origin was necessary and justified as the absence of such a condition would lower the level of protection provided for by the ‘Authorisations Directive’ which demands that no plant protection product can be placed on the market and used in a member state unless prior marketing authorisation has been issued by that Member State.
It was held that as a pesticides introduced as parallel imports could not automatically, absolutely and unconditionally have that the benefit of a marketing authorisation issued to a plant protection product already on the market of that state.
That it was for the competent authorities of the member state of importation to verify and determine whether a product authorised in another member state was to be regarded as having been authorised in the Member State of importation.
Judgment: C-201/06 may be accessed via the website of the ECJ at the link below: