Spain v Council (Rec 1992,p I-5175) (Judgment): ECJ 13 Oct 1992

Europa 1. The requirement of relative stability of the allocation among the Member States of the catches available to the Community, in the event of limitation of fishing activities under Article 4(1) of Regulation No 170/83, must be understood as meaning that in that distribution each Member State is to retain a fixed percentage. The distribution formula originally laid down under Article 4(1), on the basis of Article 11, is to continue to apply until an amending regulation is adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 43 of the Treaty.
Europa 2. Article 2 of the Act of Accession of Spain and Portugal provides that, from the date of accession, the provisions of the original Treaties and the acts adopted by the institutions of the Communities before accession are to be binding on the new Member States and are to apply in those States under the conditions laid down in those Treaties and in the Act of Accession itself. With respect to fisheries and, in particular, external resources, the Act of Accession (Article 167 in the case of Spain) provides for a system of integration whereby the Community merely takes over the management of fisheries agreements previously concluded with non-member countries by the new Member States, and provisionally maintains, in their case, the rights and obligations resulting therefrom, pending the adoption by the Council of appropriate decisions concerning the continuation of fishing activities under those agreements. In those circumstances, pursuant to Article 2 of the Act of Accession, the existing Community rules must be applied, in particular the principle of relative stability as laid down by Regulation No 170/83 and interpreted by the Court.
However, although the Act of Accession did not affect the existing situation regarding the distribution of external fishery resources, the fact nevertheless remains that, since accession, Spain has been in the same position as those Member States that did not benefit from the initial allocation. It follows that that Member State is entitled to participate in the allocation of any new fishing possibilities that become available under agreements with non-member countries concluded after accession and that, if and when the system is reviewed, it may put forward its claims on the same footing as all the other Member States.
Europa 3. The exclusion by Regulation No 4049/89 of Spain from the allocation for 1990 of certain Community catch quotas in the waters of the Norwegian exclusive economic zone around Jan Mayen does not constitute discrimination on grounds of nationality prohibited by Article 7 of the Treaty since Spain’ s situation is not comparable with that of the Member States included in that allocation if account is taken of the provisions of the 1985 Act of Accession concerning the integration of the new Member States in the common fisheries policy.
Firstly, the new Member States cannot rely on circumstances antedating accession, in particular their fishing activities during the reference period, in order to call in question the existing Community rules, since the Act of Accession did not change the existing situation regarding the distribution of external resources. Secondly, since their accession, even if accession deprived them of the power to conclude their own agreements and even if they did not receive anything in return for the external resources which they brought into the Community, they have been in the same position as the Member States excluded from the distributions under the principle of relative stability of fishing activities, which was reflected, as far as the agreements concluded before accession are concerned, in the distribution effected in 1983.


C-71/90, [1992] EUECJ C-71/90




Updated: 01 June 2022; Ref: scu.160463