Action brought on 8 April 2020 — European Commission v Kingdom of Denmark

(Case C-159/20)

Language of the case: Danish

Parties

Applicant: European Commission (represented by: M. Konstantinidis, I. Naglis and U. Nielsen, acting as Agents)

Defendant: Kingdom of Denmark

Form of order sought

The applicant claims that the Court should:

declare that Denmark has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 1 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs by failing to prevent or stop Danish dairies using the name Feta for cheese that does not comply with the product specification in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1829/2002; 2

declare that, by allowing Danish dairies to produce and sell imitations of Feta, Denmark is in breach of Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) in conjunction with Article 1(1) and Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012;

order the Kingdom of Denmark to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

The Commission claims that the Danish authorities have failed to fulfil their obligations under the regulation on quality schemes by allowing Danish undertakings unlawfully to use the name ‘Feta’ for cheese produced in Denmark.

In particular, it states that the name ‘Feta’ is being used in Denmark in breach of the regulation on quality schemes and that, as a result, that Member State must take the appropriate administrative and judicial steps to prevent or stop that practice. Since Denmark refuses to comply with the abovementioned legislation, the Commission concludes that Denmark has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 13(3) of the regulation on quality schemes and is therefore in breach of EU law.

By allowing Danish dairies to produce and sell imitations of ‘Feta’, Denmark is also in breach of Article 4(3) TEU in conjunction with Article 1(1) and Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012, by jeopardising the achievement of the European Union’s objectives with regard to ensuring fair competition for farmers and producers of agricultural products and foodstuffs having value-adding characteristics and attributes, helping producers of products linked to a geographical area secure a fair return for the qualities of their products and ensuring protection of the names as an intellectual property right in the territory of the Union.

The Commission also considers that, by failing to prevent or stop the infringement of the rights in the registered protected designation of origin (PDO) ‘Feta’, which occurs when Danish milk producers export counterfeit cheese from the European Union to third countries, Denmark is undermining the Union’s position in international negotiations intended to ensure the protection of the EU’s quality schemes, and is in breach of the principle of cooperation in good faith in Article 4(3) TEU.

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1 Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (OJ 2012 L 343, p. 1).

2 Commission Regulation (EC) No 1829/2002 of 14 October 2002 amending the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 with regard to the name ‘Feta’ (OJ 2002 L 277, p. 10).