Key facts of the case:
Fisheries — Conservation of marine biological resources — Regulation (EU) 2018/120 — Measures concerning the fishing for European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) — Action for annulment brought by an association — Article 263 TFEU — Regulatory act not entailing implementing measures — Direct concern of the members of the association — Admissibility — Competence of the European Union to regulate recreational fisheries — Legal certainty — Protection of legitimate expectations — Equal treatment — Principle of non-discrimination — Proportionality — Precautionary principle — Freedom of association and freedom to conduct a business.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, THE GENERAL COURT (First Chamber) hereby:
110) In that regard, it should be noted that the obligation to ensure equal treatment is a general principle of EU law, enshrined in Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’).
147) The applicant claims that the prohibition of underwater fishing infringes the freedom of association and the freedom to conduct a business enshrined in Articles 12 and 16 of the Charter in so far as it affects the infrastructure in marinas, the manufacture of specialist equipment for marinas and the related tourist services
149 As regards freedom to conduct a business, recognised by Article 16 of the Charter, that freedom includes the right to engage in an economic or commercial activity, freedom of contract and free competition.
153) However, Article 52(1) of the Charter accepts that limitations may be imposed on the exercise of rights and freedoms as long as the limitations are provided for by law, respect the essence of those rights and freedoms, and, in compliance with the principle of proportionality, are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the European Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.