Syndicat De La Siderurgie Du Centre-Midi v ECSC High Authority (Judgment): ECJ 26 Jun 1958

An association of undertakings has capacity to institute proceedings before the court of justice against a general decision if that decision is capable of affecting certain interests, even though perhaps divergent, which have been entrusted to it (treaty, second paragraph of article 33, articles 48 and 80). Proceedings instituted by an association of undertakings are admissible if the association formally alleges that on one or more occasions a misuse of powers affecting its members has been committed, if it produces a relevant statement of the reasons leading it to believe that there has been a misuse of powers on one or more occasions and if the purpose of the arguments upon which it relies is to obtain a declaration that, when the high authority adopted the contested provisions, it exercised the powers conferred upon it by the treaty for purposes other than those for which they were conferred upon it (treaty, second paragraph of article 33). The financial arrangements referred to in article 53 are arrangements based on the transfer of resources, in particular arrangements in the nature of equalization or compensation. They constitute ‘ indirect ‘ intervention procedures, within the meaning of article 57 of the treaty, as distinct from the direct means of action such as the establishment of production quotas (article 58) or the allocation of resources (article 59) (treaty, articles 53 and 57). The express reference made to article 3 in article 53 does not release the high authority from its duty to observe the other articles of the treaty and in particular articles 2, 4 and 5. Articles 2 to 5 must always be observed because they establish the fundamental objectives of the community. Those provisions are equally binding and must be read together if they are to be properly applied (treaty, articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 53). The provisions of articles 2 to 5 can stand by themselves and accordingly, in so far as they have not been adopted in any other provision of the treaty, they are directly applicable. If they have been adopted or are governed by other provisions of the treaty words relating to the same provision must be considered as a whole and applied together. In practice it will always be necessary to reconcile to a certain degree the various objectives of article 3 since it is clearly impossible to attain them all fully and simultaneously as those objectives constitute general principles which must be observed and harmonized as far as possible (treaty, articles 2, 3, 4 and 53). Protection of the common interest does not rule out, if the circumstances so require, the inclusion in a measure combining the pursuit of the various objectives laid down in article 3 of the treaty of all measures of a selective or gradual nature compatible with the principle of equality and necessary for carrying out the tasks laid down in the said article. Consequently an indirect means of action on production cannot be considered as incompatible with the protection of the common interest on the pretext that it involves different treatment (treaty, first paragraph of article 3). Since the procedures for which provision is made in article 59 and annex ii to the treaty consist exclusively in establishing consumption priorities and allocating resources they are directly and solely of a quantitative nature and are thereby distinct from all indirect action on production by means of prices without restriction of the volume of purchases, like the action effected by a financial arrangement established in accordance with article 53(b) (treaty, articles 53(b) and 59 and annex ii). The provisions of article 54 in no way impede the adoption of measures in accordance with the provisions of articles 3, 5, 53(b), 57 and 59 of the treaty, taken together, the application of which may influence investments planned by undertakings. In particular the financial arrangements referred to in article 53(b), which the high authority is entitled to use as an indirect means of action on production, entail by their nature results capable of affecting the plans of undertakings, such as, for example, their investment plans (treaty, articles 53 (b) and 54). A special charge within the meaning of article 4 (c) does not obtain when the high authority, in making a financial arrangement of the kind provided for in article 53 (b), imposes higher contributions upon certain undertakings than upon others since this unequal allocation of charges is based upon objectively-established criteria which are justified by the objectives which are properly pursued under the said arrangement (treaty, articles 4 (c) and 53 (b)). Although economic circumstances justify measures concerning the financial charge imposed upon undertakings those measures must not be more restrictive than is necessary for the purpose of the financial arrangement (articles 53 (b) and 65 (2) (b)).


C-12/57, [1958] EUECJ C-12/57




Updated: 20 May 2022; Ref: scu.131569