Case C-37/05, Commission v United Kingdom

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered its judgement on 12 January 2006 in the case of Commission v UK (Case C-37/05). The case concerned a request by the European Commission that the ECJ should declare the UK to be in breach of its obligations under the EIA Directive (Directive 85/337/EEC) due to its failure to correctly transpose Articles 2(1) and 4 of the Directive. Article 2(1) of the Directive requires Member States to “adopt all measures necessary to ensure that, before consent is given, projects likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue, inter alia, of their nature, size or location are made subject to a requirement for development consent and an assessment with regard to their effects”, with “projects” being defined under Article 4 of the Directive. The Commission argued that by not subjecting Crown development to the requirements of the Directive, the UK had failed to transpose Articles 2(1) and 4 of the Directive. Since the raising of the action by the Commission, the UK has acknowledged that it is necessary to adopt binding national legislation in order to implement the above requirements, rather than relying on administrative practices and is therefore now introducing measures to remove the Crown exemption provided for within the national law. However, as these measures are still to be adopted and the ECJ can only take into account the situation within the Member State on expiry of the period provided for within the reasoned opinion, the ECJ has held that the UK is in breach of its obligations under the Directive.

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