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Key facts of the case:
(Request for a preliminary ruling from the Tartu Ringkonnakohus (Estonia))
(Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 – Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 – European Regional Development Fund – Powers of Monitoring Committee for an operational programme aiming at the promotion of European territorial cooperation – Joint programme of two Member States – Division of responsibilities between Monitoring Committee and Managing Authority of the programme – Prohibition of judicial review of Monitoring Committee decisions – Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – Notion of implementing EU law – Acts of bodies, offices or agencies of the Union under Article 263 TFEU – Reviewable acts – National procedural autonomy – Principles of effectiveness and equivalence)
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
76. On the basis of the preceding reasoning, I propose the following answer to the questions referred by the Tartu Ringkonnakohus:
Question (a)
The principle of effective judicial protection and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union require that an applicant whose application for funding in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Regional Development Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1783/1999 and Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 has been rejected, must be able to challenge that rejection before a competent court or tribunal of the Member State responsible for the management of the programme. It is for the national court to decide at which point in the decision-making process a reviewable act has been adopted, and which procedural provisions and principles of national law govern access to a court in this context, provided that they fulfil the requirements stemming from the principles of equivalence and effective judicial protection.
Questions (b) and (c)
Decisions of a monitoring committee jointly set up by two Member States in the context of the European Regional Development Fund, such as the Monitoring Committee for the Estonia-Latvia Programme 2007-2013, are not acts of an institution, body, office or agency of the Union, within the meaning of Article 263 TFEU, and it is the Member State courts, and not the General Court of the European Union, which have jurisdiction to hear and determine actions against the decisions of such monitoring committees.