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Judgment of the Court of 1 October 1991.

Commission of the European Communities v French Republic.

Failure to fulfil obligations - Air quality limit values and guide values for sulphur dioxide.

Case C-64/90.

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Judgment of 1 October 1991, Commission / France (C-64/90, ECR 1991 p. I-4335, Summ.pub.) ECLI:EU:C:1991:360

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Commission of the European Communities v French Republic.

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Keywords

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1. Measures adopted by the Community institutions - Directives - Implementation by the Member States - Transposition of a directive without legislative action - Conditions - Existence of a general legal context ensuring the full application of the directive - Inadequacy of a practice conforming to the requirements of the directive

(EEC Treaty, third para. of Art. 189)

2. Environment - Air pollution - Directive 80/779 - Fixing limit values applicable to the concentration of sulphur dioxide - Adoption of a mandatory legal rule - Obligation of the Member States

(Council Directive 80/779, Art. 2)

Summary

1. As the Court has held (see in particular the judgments in Cases C-361/88 and C-59/89 Commission v Germany [1991] ECR I-2567 and I-2607) the transposition of a directive into domestic law does not necessarily require that its provisions be incorporated formally and verbatim in express, specific legislation; a general legal context may, depending on the content of the directive, be adequate for the purpose, provided that it does indeed guarantee the full application of the directive in a sufficiently clear and precise manner so that, where the directive is intended to create rights for individuals, the persons concerned can ascertain the full extent of their rights and, where appropriate, rely on them before the national courts.

The fact that a practice is in conformity with the requirements of a directive in the matter of protection may not constitute a reason for not transposing that directive into national law by provisions capable of creating a situation which is sufficiently precise, clear and transparent to enable individuals to ascertain their rights and obligations. In order to secure the full implementation of directives in law and not only in fact, Member States must establish a specific legal framework in the area in question.

2. The obligation imposed on the Member States to prescribe limit values not to be exceeded within specified periods and in specified circumstances, laid down in Article 2 of Directive 80/779, is imposed in order to protect human health in particular. It implies therefore that whenever the exceeding of the limit values could endanger human health, the persons concerned must be in a position to rely on mandatory rules in order to be able to assert their rights. Furthermore, the fixing of limit values in a provision whose binding nature is undeniable is also necessary in order that all those whose activities are liable to give rise to nuisance may ascertain precisely the obligations to which they are subject.

Parties

In Case C-64/90,

Commission of the European Communities, represented by I. Pernice, a member of its Legal Service, acting as Agent, assisted by N. Coutrelis, of the Paris Bar, with an address for service in Luxembourg at the office of Guido Berardis, a member of its Legal Service, Wagner Centre, Kirchberg,

applicant,

v

French Republic, represented by P. Pouzoulet, Sub-Director for Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and M. Giacomini, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in the same Ministry, acting as Agents, with an address for service in Luxembourg at the French Embassy, 9 Boulevard du Prince-Henri,

defendant,

APPLICATION for a declaration that, by failing to adopt within the prescribed period all the provisions needed to comply with Council Directive 80/779/EEC of 15 July 1980 on the air quality limit values and guide values for sulphur dioxide and suspended particulates (Official Journal 1980 L 229, p. 30), the French Republic has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty,

THE COURT,

composed of: O. Due, President, G.C. Rodríguez Iglesias and M. Díez de Velasco (Presidents of Chambers), Sir Gordon Slynn, C.N. Kakouris, R. Joliet, F. Grévisse, M. Zuleeg and P.J.G. Kapteyn, Judges,

(The grounds of the judgment are not reproduced.)

hereby:

Operative part

1. Declares that, by failing to adopt within the prescribed period all the provisions needed to comply with Council Directive 80/779/EEC of 15 July 1980 on the air quality limit values and guide values for sulphur dioxide and suspended particulates, the French Republic has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty;

2. Orders the French Republic to pay the costs.

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