Key facts of the case:
Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991, lays down the Community rules on authorisation and withdrawal of authorisation for the placing of plant protection products on the market. Cheminova A/S is a Danish company engaged principally in the manufacture and sale of plant protection products. Cheminova had notified the Commission of its wish to secure the inclusion of ‘malathion’ in Annex I to Directive 91/414. However, after various investigations and opinions received the Commission adopted Decision 2007/389/EC which did not include malathion in Annex I to Directive 91/414. This therefore withdrew authorisations for plant protection products containing that substance. The applicant claimed that the decision should be annulled as it was reached after breaching, allegedly, the applicant’s rights of defence and right to a fair hearing.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The applicant’s case was dismissed.
Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:
The Court confirmed that “According to settled case-law, observance of the right to a fair hearing is, in all proceedings initiated against a person which are liable to culminate in a measure adversely affecting that person, a fundamental principle of Community law which must be guaranteed even in the absence of any rules governing the procedure in question” (para 244) It found that the contested decision adversely affected the applicant since it refuses its application to include malathion in Annex I to Directive 91/414. However, it held that the applicant’s rights “were respected during the procedure which led to the adoption of the contested decision.”
The Court held that “In that regard, the applicants cannot confuse failure to respect the rights of the defence with failure to obtain the desired result by the exercise of those rights. The fact that the applicants consider that the comments submitted address all the concerns about malathion’s harmfulness does not, however, show that the Commission infringed Cheminova’s rights of the defence by holding, when the contested decision was adopted, that ‘it was not possible to conclude on the basis of the information available that malathion met the criteria for inclusion in Annex I to Directive 91/414’.” (para 247)
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: