An Taisce and WWF UK v Commission of the European Communities.: ECJ 11 Jul 1996

ECJ (Order) 1. The purpose of the procedure in respect of failure to fulfil obligations provided for by Article 169 of the Treaty is to have the Court declare a Member State to be in breach of Community law and require its conduct to be brought to an end, whereas the procedure provided for by Article 24 of Regulation No 4253/88 on coordination of the activities of the different Structural Funds between themselves and with the operations of the European Investment Bank and the other existing financial instruments is intended to allow the Commission to suspend or reduce Community financial aid in the event of any irregularity on the part of the Member State concerned, in particular where, without seeking approval, the Member State makes a significant change to the nature of, or conditions for, implementation of the action or measure.
Consequently, neither commencement of Article 169 proceedings for failure to fulfil obligations nor even a declaration by the Court of Justice that there has been such a failure can automatically entail suspension or reduction of Community financial assistance. For that, it is necessary that the Commission should adopt a decision which, it is true, must take account of the proceedings commenced under Article 169 of the Treaty or of the declaring by the Court of Justice that there has been a failure to fulfil obligations.
Unlike the institution of proceedings under Article 169 of the Treaty, a decision suspending or reducing Community financing constitutes a measure adversely affecting the party to whom it is addressed and may be the subject of an action before the Community courts.
A decision adopted under Article 24 of Regulation No 4253/88 is therefore distinct from institution of Article 169 proceedings or from a decision not to pursue such proceedings. Those two procedures are independent of each other, serve different aims and are subject to different rules.
The decision by the Commission not to institute proceedings under Article 169 of the Treaty cannot therefore implicitly entail the taking of a separate decision based on Article 24 of that regulation.
2. Under Article 168a of the EC Treaty, an appeal is confined to points of law, a limitation which is further embodied in the first paragraph of Article 51 of the EC Statute of the Court of Justice. An appeal may thus rely only on grounds relating to infringement of rules of law, to the exclusion of any appraisal of facts, and is therefore admissible only in so far as the decision of the Court of First Instance is claimed to be incompatible with rules of law the observance of which it had to ensure, although this incompatibility may result from a mistaken assessment of the facts.


C-325/94, [1996] EUECJ C-325/94P






Updated: 03 June 2022; Ref: scu.161478