CJEU - T-340/14 / Judgment Klyuyev v. Council

Key facts of the case:

Common foreign and security policy — Restrictive measures taken in view of the situation in Ukraine — Freezing of funds — List of persons, entities and bodies subject to the freezing of funds and economic resources — Inclusion of the applicant’s name — Rights of the defence — Obligation to state reasons — Legal basis — Right to effective judicial protection — Failure to comply with the listing criteria — Manifest error of assessment — Right to property — Right to reputation

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

THE GENERAL COURT (Ninth Chamber, extended composition) hereby:

  1. Annuls — until the entry into force of Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/364 of 5 March 2015 amending Decision 2014/119 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/357 of 5 March 2015 implementing Regulation No 208/2014 — Council Decision 2014/119/CFSP of 5 March 2014 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Ukraine and Council Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 of 5 March 2014 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Ukraine, in their initial versions, in so far as Mr Andriy Klyuyev was named in the list of persons, entities and bodies subject to those restrictive measures;
  2. Dismisses the action as to the remainder;
  3. Orders the Council of the European Union to bear its own costs and to pay the costs incurred by Mr Klyuyev, with respect to the claim for annulment stated in the application;
  4. Orders Mr Klyuyev to bear his own costs and to pay the costs incurred by the Council, with respect to the claim for annulment stated in the statement of modification of the form of order sought;
  5. Orders the European Commission to bear its own costs.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 
  1. It should be noted that, although the Council has a broad discretion as regards the general criteria to be taken into consideration for the purpose of adopting restrictive measures, the effectiveness of the judicial review guaranteed by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union requires that, as part of the review of the lawfulness of the grounds which form the basis of the decision to include or to maintain a person’s name on the list of persons subject to restrictive measures, the Courts of the European Union must ensure that that decision, which affects that person individually, is taken on a sufficiently solid factual basis. That entails a verification of the factual allegations in the summary of reasons underpinning that decision, with the consequence that judicial review cannot be restricted to an assessment of the cogency in the abstract of the reasons relied on, but must concern whether those reasons, or, at the very least, one of those reasons, deemed sufficient in itself to support that decision, are substantiated by sufficiently specific and concrete evidence (see judgment of 21 April 2015 in Anbouba v Council, C‑605/13 P, EU:C:2015:248, paragraphs 41 and 45 and the case-law cited).
  1. First, it must be recalled that respect for the rights of the defence, which is affirmed in Article 41(2)(a) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, to which the EU Treaty attaches the same legal value as the treaties, includes the right to be heard and the right to have access to the file, whereas the right to effective judicial protection, which is affirmed in Article 47 of the Charter, requires that the person concerned must be able to ascertain the reasons upon which the decision taken in relation to him is based (see, to that effect, judgment of 18 July 2013, Commission and Others v Kadi, C‑584/10 P, C‑593/10 P and C‑595/10 P, EU:C:2013:518, paragraphs 98 to 100).
  1. First, it must be recalled that the statement of reasons required by Article 296 TFEU and Article 41(2)(c) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights must be appropriate to the nature of the contested act and to the context in which it was adopted. It must disclose in a clear and unequivocal fashion the reasoning followed by the institution which adopted the measure in such a way as to enable the person concerned to ascertain the reasons for the measure and to enable the competent court to exercise its power of review. The requirements to be satisfied by the statement of reasons depend on the circumstances of each case (see judgment of 14 April 2016, Ben Ali v Council, T‑200/14, not published, EU:T:2016:216, paragraph 94 and the case-law cited).
  2. It is not necessary for the reasoning to go into all the relevant facts and points of law, since the question whether the statement of reasons meets the requirements of Article 296 TFEU and Article 41(2)(c) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights must be assessed with regard not only to its wording but also to its context and to all the legal rules governing the matter in question. Accordingly, the reasons given for a measure adversely affecting a person are sufficient if that measure was adopted in a context which was known to that person and which enables him to understand the scope of the measure concerning him. Moreover, the degree of precision of the statement of the reasons for a measure must be weighed against practical realities and the time and technical facilities available for taking the measure (see judgment of 14 April 2016, Ben Ali v Council, T‑200/14, not published, EU:T:2016:216, paragraph 95 and the case-law cited).
  1. In that regard, it must be recalled that respect for the rule of law is one of the primary values on which the European Union is founded, as is stated in Article 2 TEU, and in the preambles of the EU Treaty and of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Respect for the rule of law constitutes, moreover, a prerequisite of accession to the European Union, pursuant to Article 49 TEU. The concept of the rule of law is also enshrined in the preamble of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950.