Article 2 - Right to life
Article 41 - Right to good administration
Article 47 - Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
Key facts of the case:
Appeal – Protection of the European Union’s financial interests – Combating fraud – Multiannual Financial Framework – Alleged conflict of interest of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic – Request to prevent the latter from meeting with the College of European Commissioners – Request to stop direct payments in the EU budget in favour of certain agri-food groups – Action for failure to act – Alleged failure to act by the European Commission – Composition of the General Court of the European Union – Alleged lack of impartiality – Application inadmissible – Definition of position – Locus standi – Interest in bringing proceedings.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Eighth Chamber) hereby:
8) The appellant’s arguments, as set out in the application, must be grouped into six grounds of appeal, alleging (i) infringement of the second paragraph of Article 18 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, (ii) incorrect classification by the General Court of the Commission’s letter of 25 March 2020 as a definition of position, (iii) an error of assessment by the General Court as regards the appellant’s interest in bringing proceedings and his locus standi, (iv) infringement of Article 6(1) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 (‘ECHR’), Articles 2, 41 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), and Article 2 TEU, (v) an incorrect assessment by the General Court of the use made by the appellant of the Commission’s legal opinion of 19 November 2018, and (vi) infringement of the general principle of the foreseeability of the law with regard to costs.
16) The Court has also held that there are two aspects to the requirement of impartiality, guaranteed in Article 47 of the Charter. First, the members of the court or tribunal must themselves be subjectively impartial, that is, none of its members may show bias or personal prejudice, there being a presumption of personal impartiality in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Secondly, the court or tribunal must be objectively impartial, that is to say, it must offer guarantees sufficient to exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect (judgment of 4 December 2019, H v Council, C‑413/18 P, not published, EU:C:2019:1044, paragraph 55 and the case-law cited).
19) In that regard, Article 18 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which is the expression of the right of access to an independent and impartial tribunal enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter, provides, in its first paragraph, that no Judge or Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union may take part in the disposal of any case in which he or she has previously taken part as agent or adviser or has acted for one of the parties, or in which he or she has been called upon to pronounce as a member of a court or tribunal, of a commission of inquiry or in any other capacity, and in the first sentence of its second paragraph that if, for some special reason, any Judge or Advocate General considers that he or she should not take part in the judgment or examination of a particular case, he or she must so inform the President.
45) By his fourth ground of appeal, the appellant alleges infringement of Article 6(1) of the ECHR, Articles 2, 41 and 47 of the Charter, and Article 2 TEU in that, in paragraph 37 of the order under appeal, the General Court upheld the Commission’s plea of inadmissibility without examining the substance of the case, holding in particular that, even though the appellant is a member of a national Parliament and is subject to threats to his physical integrity, Article 47 of the Charter is not intended to modify the system of judicial review laid down by the Treaties.
48) Furthermore, by overlooking the threats to the appellant’s physical integrity, the General Court infringed his right to life, as guaranteed by Article 2 of the Charter.
49) The appellant adds that, by refraining from ruling on the substance of the case and disregarding most of his arguments, the General Court, by its failure to state reasons, infringed its obligation to state reasons, as enshrined in Article 41 of the Charter and based on the right to a fair trial.
51) Relying on an infringement of Article 6(1) of the ECHR, Articles 2, 41 and 47 of the Charter, and Article 2 TEU, the appellant essentially criticises the fact that the General Court, under Article 130 of its Rules of Procedure, ruled on the plea of inadmissibility without going to the substance of the case.
52) In that regard, suffice it to state, as the General Court did, in essence, in paragraph 37 of the order under appeal, that, although the conditions governing the admissibility of an action before the Court of Justice must be interpreted in the light of the values and fundamental rights of EU law, those values and fundamental rights nevertheless cannot have the effect of altering the system of judicial review laid down by the Treaties, in particular the rules relating to the admissibility of direct actions brought before the EU Courts (order of 14 April 2021, Wagenknecht v European Council, C‑504/20 P, EU:C:2021:305, paragraph 39 and the case-law cited).