Key facts of the case:
APPLICATION for annulment of Council Decision 2011/522/CFSP of 2 September 2011 amending Decision 2011/273/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria (OJ 2011 L 228, p. 16), Council Regulation (EU) No 878/2011 of 2 September 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria (OJ 2011 L 228, p. 1), Council Decision 2011/782/CFSP of 1 December 2011 concerning restrictive measures against Syria and repealing Decision 2011/273 (OJ 2011 L 319, p. 56), Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 of 18 January 2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria and repealing Regulation No 442/2011 (OJ 2012 L 16, p. 1), Council Decision 2012/739/CFSP of 29 November 2012 concerning restrictive measures against Syria and repealing Decision 2011/782 (OJ 2012 L 330, p. 21), Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1117/2012 of 29 November 2012 implementing Article 32(1) of Regulation No 36/2012 (OJ 2012 L 330, p. 9), Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 363/2013 of 22 April 2013 implementing Regulation No 36/2012 (OJ 2013 L 111, p. 1), and Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP of 31 May 2013 concerning restrictive measures against Syria (OJ 2013 L 147, p. 14), and any subsequent legislation to the extent that it maintains or replaces those acts in so far as those acts concern the applicant,
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The General Court (Seventh Chamber hereby:
- Dismisses the action;
- Orders Mr Fares Al-Chihabi to bear his own costs and to pay those incurred by the Council of the European Union;
- Orders the European Commission to bear its own costs.
The first point to be borne in mind is that respect for the rights of the defence, enshrined in Article 41(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), includes the right to be heard and the right to have access to the file, subject to legitimate interests in maintaining confidentiality (see Joined Cases C‑584/10 P, C‑593/10 P and C‑595/10 P Commission and Others v Kadi  ECR, ‘Kadi II’, paragraph 99 and the case-law cited).
37. Moreover, the right to effective judicial protection, affirmed in Article 47 of the Charter, requires that the person concerned be able to ascertain the reasons upon which the decision taken in relation to him is based, either by reading the decision itself or by requesting and obtaining disclosure of those reasons, without prejudice to the power of the court having jurisdiction to require the authority concerned to disclose that information, so as to make it possible for the person concerned to defend his rights in the best possible conditions and to decide, with full knowledge of the relevant facts, whether there is any point in his applying to the court having jurisdiction, and in order to put the latter fully in a position to review the lawfulness of the decision in question (see Kadi II, paragraph 100 and the case-law cited).
38. Article 52(1) of the Charter nevertheless allows limitations on the exercise of the rights enshrined in the Charter, provided that the limitation concerned respects the essence of the fundamental right in question and that, in accordance with the principle of proportionality, it is necessary and genuinely meets objectives of general interest recognised by the European Union (see Kadi II, paragraph 101 and the case-law cited).
97. Secondly, as regards the argument relating to the alleged infringement of the right to property, it must first of all be noted that the right to property is one of the general principles of EU law and is enshrined in Article 17 of the Charter.
98. Furthermore, according to settled case-law, the rights enshrined in the Charter do not, under EU law, enjoy absolute protection, but must be viewed in relation to their function in society. Consequently, the exercise of those rights may be restricted, provided that those restrictions correspond to objectives of public interest pursued by the European Union and do not constitute, in relation to the aim pursued, a disproportionate and intolerable interference, impairing the very substance of the rights thus guaranteed (Makhlouf v Council, paragraphs 97 to 101 and 105).