Spain v Council (Rec 1992,p I-5191) (Judgment): ECJ 13 Oct 1992

Eiropa 1. The requirement of relative stability in 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.
The principle of relative stability of fishing activities cannot be interpreted as placing the Council under an obligation to effect a fresh distribution whenever an increase of a particular stock is established, where that stock was already covered by the initial allocation.
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.
The exclusion by Regulations Nos 4051/89 and 4057/89 of Spain from the allocation for 1989 and 1990 of the Community’ s catch quotas in Swedish waters does not constitute discrimination on grounds of nationality prohibited by Article 7 of the Treaty since, in view of the fact that the arrangements for the integration of the new Member States into the common fisheries policy laid down by the 1985 Act of Accession imply, in conformity with the existing Community rules, observance of the principle of relative stability in the distribution of resources, Spain’ s situation is not comparable with that of the Member States already included in the allocation decided on in 1983.
The position would be different if the contested regulations had distributed new fishing possibilities in respect of stocks which were not previously accessible and had been obtained by the Community under agreements concluded with non-member countries after accession and had not therefore been allocated at the time of accession.


C-73/90, [1992] EUECJ C-73/90




Updated: 01 June 2022; Ref: scu.160465