Key facts of the case:
(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Environment — Aarhus Convention — Directive 2003/4/EC — Article 4(2) — Public access to information — Concept of ‘information relating to emissions into the environment’ — Directive 91/414/EEC — Directive 98/8/EC — Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 — Placing of plant protection products and biocides on the market — Confidentiality — Protection of industrial and commercial interests)
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Fifth Chamber) hereby rules:
- Article 4(2) of Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC must be interpreted as meaning that the fact that the applicant for authorisation to place a plant protection product or biocide on the market, did not, during the procedure for obtaining that authorisation, request that information submitted under that procedure be treated as confidential on the basis of Article 14 of Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, Article 19 of Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market or Article 33(4) and Article 63 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC does not preclude the competent authority, which has received, following the closure of that procedure, a request for access to the information submitted on the basis of Directive 2003/4 by a third party, from examining the applicant’s objection to that request for access and refusing it, if necessary, pursuant to point (d) of the first subparagraph of Article 4(2) of that directive on the ground that the disclosure of that information would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information.
- The second subparagraph of Article 4(2) of Directive 2003/4 must be interpreted as follows: – ‘emissions into the environment’ within the meaning of that provision covers the release into the environment of products or substances such as plant protection products or biocides and substances contained in those products, to the extent that that release is actual or foreseeable under normal or realistic conditions of use; – ‘information on emissions into the environment’ within the meaning of that provision covers information concerning the nature, composition, quantity, date and place of the ‘emissions into the environment’ of those products or substances, and data concerning the medium to long-term consequences of those emissions on the environment, in particular information relating to residues in the environment following application of the product in question and studies on the measurement of the substance’s drift during that application, whether the data comes from studies performed entirely or in part in the field, or from laboratory or translocation studies.
- CJEU - The second subparagraph of Article 4(2) of Directive 2003/4 must be interpreted as meaning, in the event of a request for access to information on emissions into the environment whose disclosure would adversely affect one of the interests referred to in points (a), (d), and (f) to (h) of the first subparagraph of Article 4(2) of that directive, that only relevant data which may be extracted from the source of information concerning emissions into the environment must be disclosed where it is possible to separate those data from the other information contained in that source, which is for the referring court to assess.