CJEU - T-100/15 / Judgment Dextro Energy GmbH & Co. KG v Commission

Key facts of the case:

Consumer protection — Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 — Health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health — Refusal to authorise certain claims in spite of EFSA’s positive opinion — Proportionality — Equal treatment — Obligation to state reasons

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

THE GENERAL COURT (Fifth Chamber) hereby:

  1. Dismisses the action;
  2. Orders Dextro Energy GmbH & Co. KG to pay the costs.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 
  1. Fourth, as regards the applicant’s argument that the contested regulation undermines the freedoms recognised by Article 6 and 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, on the right to liberty and security and freedom to conduct a business, it should be observed that the applicant merely mentions the breach of those provisions in an abstract manner in the context of the present plea. In fact, a breach of Articles 6 and 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights constitutes a separate plea, independent of the present plea, which alleges a breach of the principle of proportionality. Under the first paragraph of Article 21 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which applies to the procedure before the General Court by virtue of the first paragraph of Article 53 of that statute, and Article 44(1)(c) of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court of 2 May 1991, an application is to contain, in particular, a summary of the pleas in law on which the application is based. It must thus specify the nature of the plea in law on which the action is based, so that a mere abstract reference to that plea does not satisfy the requirements of the Statute of the Court of Justice or the Rules of Procedure (see judgment of 30 April 2014 in Hagenmeyer and Hahn v Commission, T‑17/12, ECR, EU:T:2014:234, paragraph 99 and the case-law cited). It follows that the applicant’s argument relating to a breach of Articles 6 and 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights must be rejected as inadmissible.
  2. In any event, it should be observed that, while it is true that the prohibition of the health claims at issue imposes certain restrictions on the applicant’s business activity in one specific respect, compliance with those freedoms is nonetheless assured in the essential respects. Far from prohibiting the production and marketing of the applicant’s products or the advertising of those products, the contested regulation merely controls, pursuant to Article 1(2) of Regulation No 1924/2006, the presentation of the foods in question and the advertising of those products, with the aim of protecting public health, which constitutes an objective of general interest justifying a restriction of a fundamental freedom (see judgment in Deutsches Weintor, cited in paragraph 55 above, EU:C:2012:526, paragraph 49 and the case-law cited). Thus, the refusal to authorise the health claims at issue does not in any way affect the actual substance of the freedoms recognised by Articles 6 and 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and must be regarded as complying with the requirement that is intended to reconcile the various fundamental rights involved and to strike a fair balance between them (see, to that effect, judgment in Deutsches Weintor, cited in paragraph 55 above, EU:C:2012:526, paragraphs 56 to 59).