Language of document : ECLI:EU:C:2015:180


3 March 2015 (*)

(Appeal — Application to intervene — Interest in the result of the case — Admission)

In Case C‑673/13 P,

APPEAL under Article 56 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, brought on 17 December 2013,

European Commission, represented by B. Smulders, P. Oliver, P. Ondrůšek and L. Pignataro-Nolin, acting as Agents, with an address for service in Luxembourg,


the other parties to the proceedings being:

Stichting Greenpeace Nederland, established in Amsterdam (Netherlands),

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), established in Brussels (Belgium),

represented by B. Kloostra, advocaat,

applicants at first instance,


having regard to the proposal from A. Tizzano, Judge-Rapporteur,

after hearing the Advocate General, P. Cruz Villalón,

makes the following


1        By its appeal, the European Commission seeks to have set aside the judgment of the General Court of the European Union in Stichting Greenpeace Nederland and PAN Europe v Commission (T‑545/11, EU:T:2013:523; ‘the judgment under appeal’), by which the General Court annulled the Commission’s decision of 10 August 2011 refusing to grant Stichting Greenpeace Nederland and Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) access to volume 4 of the Draft Assessment Report (‘volume 4’) issued by the Federal Republic of Germany as rapporteur Member State for the active substance glyphosate under Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (OJ 1991 L 230, p. 1), inasmuch as that decision refuses access to the parts of that volume containing information relating to emissions into the environment: the ‘identity’ and quantity of all of the impurities in the active substance notified by each operator, set out in part C.1.2.1 of the first sub-document (pp. 11 to 61 of volume 4), in part C.1.2.1 of the second sub-document (pp. 1 to 6 of volume 4) and in part C.1.2.1 of the third sub-document (pp. 4 and 8 to 13 of volume 4); the impurities present in the various batches and the minimum, median and maximum quantities of each of those impurities, set out, for each operator, in the table included in part C.1.2.2 of the first sub-document (pp. 61 to 84 of volume 4) and in part C.1.2.4 of the third sub-document (p. 7 of volume 4); and the composition of the plant protection products developed by the operators, set out in part C.1.3, entitled ‘Detailed specification of the preparations (Annex III A 1.4)’, of the first sub-document (pp. 84 to 88 of volume 4).

2        By document lodged at the Court Registry on 17 April 2014, the European Crop Protection Association (‘ECPA’) applied for leave to intervene in the present appeal in support of the form of order sought by the Commission. By letter lodged on 12 May 2014, the Commission stated that it had no observations to make on that application to intervene.

3        That application to intervene was made pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 40 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union and in accordance with Articles 130 and 190(2) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court.

4        Under the second paragraph of Article 40 of the Statute of the Court, the right to intervene in a case before the Court is open to any person establishing an interest in the result of that case.

5        In particular, the Court allows interventions by representative associations which have as their object the protection of their members’ interests in cases raising questions of principle liable to affect those members (see, inter alia, orders of the President of the Court in Pharos v Commission, C‑151/98 P, EU:C:1998:440, paragraphs 6 and 8, and in Commission v Andersen, C‑303/13 P, EU:C:2014:226, paragraph 8).

6        In support of its application to intervene, ECPA submits that it is a non-profit organisation which represents the interests of the European crop protection industry. Its members include 32 national associations and 20 companies active in the crop protection sector.

7        ECPA’s principal objective, in accordance with its statutes, is to engage ‘in all fields of interest to the crop protection industry, in particular those of a technical, documentary and institutional nature’.

8        ECPA asserts that it sits as the representative association for the crop protection industry within the major decision-making and consultative bodies involved in the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC (OJ 2009 L 309, p. 1). It is a regular interlocutor of the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in all matters affecting the European crop protection industry, which include in particular the transparency or access-to-documents policies developed at EU level.

9        In the present case, ECPA argues that an adequate protection of confidential business information (‘CBI’) is essential in order to preserve and stimulate innovation and thus competitiveness and growth in the EU crop protection sector. A radical change to the transparency regime, as presented in the judgment under appeal, would therefore have a considerable impact on the way in which European companies in that sector conduct their business.

10      ECPA submits that the present appeal accordingly raises questions of principle which are of direct relevance to the entire crop protection industry. Those questions concern the way in which CBI is to be protected in the European Union going forward, especially where the CBI may be regarded as environmental information or as information relating to emissions into the environment governed by the disclosure regime of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, signed at Aarhus on 25 June 1998 and approved on behalf of the European Community by Council Decision 2005/370/EC of 17 February 2005 (OJ 2005 L 124, p. 1).

11      In that respect, it must be held that the present appeal, since it concerns a conflict between the right of access to documents concerning the environment and the protection of CBI that chemical manufacturers are required to submit to the competent authority, raises a question of principle which is liable to affect the members of ECPA.

12      In those circumstances, ECPA has demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that it possesses — as a representative professional association for the purposes of the case-law cited in paragraph 5 of the present order — an interest in the result of the case.

13      It follows that the application to intervene submitted by ECPA must be granted.


14      As the application to intervene submitted by ECPA has been granted, the costs relating thereto are reserved.

On those grounds, the President of the Court hereby orders:

1.      The European Crop Protection Association is granted leave to intervene in support of the form of order sought by the European Commission.

2.      A period shall be prescribed within which the European Crop Protection Association is to state in writing the pleas in law in support of the form of order which it seeks.

3.      The Registrar shall serve on the European Crop Protection Association a copy of every document served on the parties.

4.      The costs are reserved.


* Language of the case: English.