Gondrand and Garancini

IDENTIFIER
61980CJ0169 | ECLI:EU:C:1981:171 | C-169/80
LANGUAGE
English
ORIGIN
FRA
COURT
Court of Justice
ADVOCATE GENERAL
Sir Gordon Slynn
AG OPINION
YES
REFERENCES MADE
7
REFERENCED
46
SECTOR
European Community (EEC/EC),The Community legal order
DOCUMENT TYPE
Judgment

Judgment



Parties

IN CASE 169/80

REFERENCE TO THE COURT UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY BY THE COUR DE CASSATION , CHAMBRE COMMERCIALE , ( COURT OF CASSATION , COMMERCIAL CHAMBER ) OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THAT COURT BETWEEN

ADMINISTRATION DES DOUANES ( CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES )

AND

  1. SOCIETE ANONYME GONDRAND FRERES , HAVING ITS REGISTERED OFFICE IN PARIS,2.SOCIETE ANONYME GARANCINI , HAVING ITS REGISTERED OFFICE IN AIX-LES-BAINS ,

Subject of the case

ON THE INTERPRETATION OF CERTAIN TARIFF HEADINGS OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF CONCERNING THE CLASSIFICATION OF FRENCH EMMENTALER CHEESE AND OF CERTAIN REGULATIONS ON THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKET IN MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS ,

Grounds

  1. BY JUDGMENT OF 1 JULY 1980 , WHICH WAS RECEIVED AT THE COURT ON 23 JULY 1980 , THE CHAMBRE COMMERCIALE OF THE FRENCH COUR DE CASSATION REFERRED FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY A QUESTION ON THE TARIFF CLASSIFICATION OF FRENCH EMMENTALER CHEESE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS .

  1. THAT QUESTION WAS RAISED IN PROCEEDINGS BETWEEN GONDRAND FRERES SA AND GARANCINI SA ON THE ONE HAND AND THE FRENCH CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES ON THE OTHER . THE LATTER HAD MADE AN ORDER AGAINST GODRAND FRERES FOR THE RECOVERY OF A CERTAIN SUM AS MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS ON THE EXPORT OF FRENCH EMMENTALER CHEESE TO BELGIUM AND ITALY DURING THE PERIODS FROM 12 AUGUST TO 24 OCTOBER 1974 , 20 JANUARY TO 28 APRIL 1975 AND 27 MARCH TO 24 SEPTEMBER 1976 .

  1. IT IS APPARENT FROM THE FILE THAT GONDRAND , ACTING AS CUSTOMS AGENT ON BEHALF OF THE CHEESEMONGERS GARANCINI , MADE IN RESPECT OF THE SAID PERIODS A NUMBER OF EXPORT DECLARATIONS REFERRING TO SUBHEADING 04.04 A I OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF WHICH DID NOT ATTRACT MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS FOR THE RELEVANT PERIODS . SINCE THEY AT FIRST TOOK THE VIEW THAT THE CHEESE DID IN FACT FALL WITHIN THAT SUBHEADING THE CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CUSTOMS OPINIONS PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC DID NOT CLAIM MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS ON EXPORT . ON 8 APRIL 1977 THE CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES MADE AN ORDER , WHICH WAS IMMEDIATELY ENFORCEABLE , AGAINST GONDRAND FOR WHAT WAS THEN ALLEGED TO BE DUE AS MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS ON THE EXPORTS , SINCE THE AUTHORITIES THEN TOOK THE VIEW THAT EXPORTS OF FRENCH EMMENTALER CHEESE TO OTHER COUNTRIES OF THE COMMUNITY FELL WITHIN SUBHEADING 04.04 A Il UNDER WHICH MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS WERE PAYABLE FOR THE RELEVANT PERIODS .

  1. THE CHAMBRE COMMCERIALE OF THE COUR DE CASSATION TOOK THE VIEW THAT THE PROCEEDINGS DEPENDED UPON THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE GOODS IN QUESTION AND REFERRED THE FOLLOWING QUESTION TO THE COURT FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING ON : *' THE APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY REGULATIONS NOS 804/68 , 823/68 , 1053/68 AND 1054/68 TO THE CLASSIFICATION OF FRENCH EMMENTALER CHEESE EXPORTED TO ITALY AND BELGIUM DURING THE PERIODS FROM 12 AUGUST TO 24 OCTOBER 1974 , 20 JANUARY 1975 TO 28 APRIL 1975 AND 27 MARCH 1976 TO 24 SEPTEMBER 1976 UNDER EITHER TARIFF HEADING 04.04 A 1 OR TARIFF HEADING 04.04 A Il'".

  1. AS APPEARS FROM THE GROUNDS OF THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONAL COURT THE PURPOSE OF THAT QUESTION IS TO ASCERTAIN HOW , UNDER THE SAID REGULATIONS , THE PRODUCT IN QUESTION MUST BE CLASSIFIED UNDER THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF FOR THE PURPOSES OF MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS .

  1. THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS WHICH ARE TO BE CHARGED OR GRANTED EITHER ON IMPORTATION FROM MEMBER STATES AND NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES OR ON EXPORTATION TO MEMBER STATES AND NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES ARE FIXED FOR EACH MEMBER STATE CONCERNED BY COMMISSION REGULATIONS ADOPTED IN IMPLEMENTATION OF REGULATION NO 974/71 OF THE COUNCIL OF 12 MAY 1971 ON CERTAIN MEASURES OF CONJUNCTURAL POLICY TO BE TAKEN IN AGRICULTURE FOLLOWING THE TEMPORARY WIDENING OF THE MARGINS OF FLUCTUATION FOR THE CURRENCIES OF CERTAIN MEMBER STATES ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , ENGLISH SPECIAL EDITION 1971 (1), P . 257 ).

  1. AS REGARDS THE PRODUCTS IN QUESTION THOSE REGULATIONS REFER TO THE HEADINGS IN THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF , IN THIS CASE SUBHEADING 04.04 A Il , WHEREAS SUBHEADING 04.04 A I IS NOT MENTIONED . THE SUBHEADINGS ARE WORDED FOR THE RELEVANT PERIODS AS FOLLOWS :

** 04.04 CHEESE AND CURD

A. EMMENTALER , GRUYERE , SBRINZ , BERGKASE AND APPENZELL , NOT GRATED OR POWDERED :

I. OF A MINIMUM FAT CONTENT OF 45 % BY WEIGHT , REFERRED TO DRY MATTER , MATURED FOR AT LEAST THREE MONTHS...

ILOTHERS ...**

  1. THE TARIFF DESCRIPTION IN SUBHEADING 04.04 A I IS FOLLOWED BY A REFERENCE TO A FOOTNOTE WHICH STATES :

*‘* ENTRY UNDER THIS SUBHEADING IS SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS TO BE DETERMINED BY THE COMPETENT AUTHORITIES ‘* .

  1. IT IS NOT DENIED THAT THE CHEESES IN QUESTION SATISFY THE CHARACTERISTICS REFERRED TO IN SUBHEADING 04.04 A I BUT NO CONDITION AS MENTIONED IN THE FOOTNOTE HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY DETERMINED EITHER IN THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF OR IN THE RULES RELATING TO MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS .

  1. NEVERTHELESS REGULATIONS NOS 1053/68 AND 1054/68 OF THE COMMISSION OF 23 JULY 1968 ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , ENGLISH SPECIAL EDITION 1968 (II ), PP . 332 AND 338 )), ADOPTED AS PART OF THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKET IN MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS , PROVIDE THAT THE ADMISSION OF PRODUCTS FROM NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES TO SUBHEADING 04.04 A I FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE APPLICATION OF REGULATION NO 823/68 SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE PRODUCTION OF A CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE AGENCIES OF CERTAIN NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES , A LIST OF WHICH IS ANNEXED THERETO .

  1. THOSE PROVISIONS REFER TO A FOOTNOTE , VERY SIMILAR TO THAT MENTIONED ABOVE IN THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF , WHICH IN TURN REFERS TO THE TARIFF DESCRIPTION OF SUBHEADING 04.04 A I CONTAINED IN ANNEX II TO REGULATION NO 823/68 OF THE COUNCIL OF 28 JUNE 1968 DETERMINING THE GROUPS AND THE SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR CALCULATING LEVIES ON MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , ENGLISH SPECIAL EDITION 1968 ( 1), P. 199 ). THE WORDING OF SUBHEADINGS 04.04 A I AND 04.04 A Il , AS REPRODUCED THEREIN , IS IDENTICAL FOR THE PERIODS IN QUESTION TO THAT OF THE SAME SUBHEADINGS IN THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF .

  1. THE COMMISSION MAINTAINED THAT HAVING REGARD TO THE CLOSE CONNEXION BETWEEN THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKETS AND THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE SUBHEADINGS IN. QUESTION SHOULD BE HELD TO BE THE SAME BOTH AS REGARDS THE CALCULATION OF THE LEVIES AND THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS . AS A RESULT , IN THE COMMISSION ‘ S VIEW , IN INTERPRETING THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS RECOURSE MUST BE HAD TO THE PROVISIONS IN THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF MARKETS SO THAT THE CONDITIONS DETERMINED FOR ENTRY UNDER A PARTICULAR SUBHEADING FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING THE LEVIES ALSO APPLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS . IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE CONDITIONS LAID DOWN IN THE PRESENT CASE CAN BE SATISFIED ONLY ON IMPORT FROM NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES , SUBHEADING 04.04 A I IS NOT APPLICABLE .

  1. UNDOUBTEDLY THERE IS A CLOSE CONNEXION BETWEEN THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF AND THE NOMENCLATURE OF THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKETS . THAT CONNEXION IS APPARENT INTER ALIA FROM THE FACT THAT THE HEADINGS AND TARIFF DESCRIPTIONS ARE THE SAME AND ALL THE PARTICULARS RELATING TO LEVIES ARE INCLUDED IN THE COLUMNS OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF . IT IS THEREFORE PROPER TO TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE CONDITIONS SPECIFIED IN THE NOTE ON THE NOMENCLATURE OF THE COMMON ORGANIZATION OF THE MARKETS FOR THE PURPOSE OF INTERPRETING THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF .

  1. NEVERTHELESS , FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS THE CONDITIONS OF ENTRY LAID DOWN IN THE PRESENT CASE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING LEVIES ARE NOT IN SUBSTANCE OF SUCH A NATURE AS TO CONCERN INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE SINCE THEIR SOLE PURPOSE IS TO LIMIT THE ENTRY UNDER SUBHEADING 04.04 A I OF PRODUCTS IMPORTED INTO THE COMMUNITY FROM NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES . THEY CAN THEREFORE REASONABLY BE UNDERSTOOD AS EXCLUDING ENTRY UNDER THAT SUBHEADING OF ALL PRODUCTS OTHER THAN THOSE IMPORTED INTO THE COMMUNITY AND COMING FROM NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES AND IN PARTICULAR PRODUCTS ORIGINATING IN A MEMBER STATE AND EXPORTED TO ANOTHER MEMBER STATE .

  1. FURTHER , IT IS TO BE OBSERVED THAT THE INTENTION OF THE SAID NOTE , WHICH REFERS TO A SUBHEADING OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF , IS ONLY TO ENSURE THAT THE SPECIFIC CRITERIA OF THAT SUBHEADING ARE SATISFIED . IT CANNOT HOWEVER BE UNDERSTOOD AS GIVING THE COMPETENT AUTHORITIES THE POWER TO EXCLUDE APPLICATION OF THAT SUBHEADING BY OMITTING TO LAY DOWN THE CONDITIONS OF ENTRY . AS A RESULT IF THE CONDITIONS OF ENTRY HAVE NOT BEEN LAID DOWN OR, AS IN THE PRESENT CASE , HAVE BEEN LAID DOWN ONLY FOR THE IMPORT FROM NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES , THE SUBHEADING IN QUESTION APPLIES BOTH ON EXPORT TO NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES AND IN INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE .

  1. THE COMMISSION REFERRED TO THE PURPORT OF THE RULES AND THE LOGIC OF THE SYSTEM OF MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS IN SUPPORT OF ITS ARGUMENT TO THE CONTRARY . IT CLAIMED THAT THE ENTRY OF THE PRODUCTS IN QUESTION UNDER SUBHEADING 04.04 A I AND CONSEQUENTLY THEIR EXEMPTION FROM MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS IN INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE WOULD MAKE THE SYSTEM INEFFECTIVE AND GIVE RISE TO DISTORTIONS IN THE MARKET IN MILK . FOR THAT REASON IT IS NECESSARY TO INTERPRET THE RULES REFERRING TO THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALCULATING THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS AS MEANING THAT SUBHEADING 04.04 A I APPLIES BY REASON OF THE NOTE ONLY TO IMPORTS FROM CERTAIN NON-MEMBER COUNTRIES IN RESPECT OF WHICH INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS REQUIRE A SPECIFIC TREATMENT .

  1. THAT ARGUMENT MUST BE REJECTED . EVEN ASSUMING THAT THE INTERPRETATION ADVOCATED BY THE COMMISSION IS IN ACCORD WITH THE LOGIC OF THE SYSTEM OF MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS , NEVERTHELESS IT IS. FOR THE COMMUNITY LEGISLATURE TO ADOPT THE APPROPRIATE PROVISIONS . THE PRINCIPLE OF LEGAL CERTAINTY REQUIRES THAT RULES IMPOSING CHARGES ON THE TAXPAYER MUST BE CLEAR AND PRECISE SO THAT HE MAY KNOW WITHOUT AMBIGUITY WHAT ARE HIS RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS AND MAY TAKE STEPS ACCORDINGLY .

  1. THE RULES IN QUESTION ARE OBVIOUSLY UNCLEAR AS IS APPARENT INTER ALIA FROM THE FACT THAT EVEN THE COMPETENT CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES ORIGINALLY INTERPRETED THEM IN THE SAME WAY AS THE RESPONDENT IN THE MAIN ACTION AND IT WAS NOT UNTIL THREE YEARS AFTER THE DATE OF THE FIRST IMPORTS THAT THEY SOUGHT TO RECOVER THE MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN DUE IN RESPECT OF THE EXPORTS. IN QUESTION .

  1. IT FOLLOWS FROM ALL THOSE CONSIDERATIONS THAT SINCE NO CONDITION HAS BEEN PROPERLY LAID DOWN FOR THE ENTRY OF EMMENTALER CHEESE UNDER SUBHEADING 04.04 A 1 ON EXPORT FROM ONE MEMBER STATE TO ANOTHER MEMBER STATE , THE CHEESE IN QUESTION FALLS WITHIN THAT SUBHEADING IN SO FAR AS IT SATISFIES CHARACTERISTICS THEREOF .

  1. THE QUESTION PUT BY THE CHAMBRE COMMERCIALE OF THE COUR DE CASSATION MUST THEREFORE BE ANSWERED TO THE EFFECT THAT FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION OF MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS EMMENTALER CHEESE EXPORTED FROM FRANCE TO ITALY AND BELGIUM DURING THE PERIODS FROM 12 AUGUST TO 24 OCTOBER 1974 , 20 JANUARY TO 28 APRIL 1975 AND 27 MARCH TO 24 SEPTEMBER 1976 FELL WITHIN TARIFF SUBHEADING 04.04 Al.

Decision on costs

  1. THE COSTS INCURRED BY THE COMMISSION , WHICH HAS SUBMITTED OBSERVATIONS TO THE COURT , ARE NOT RECOVERABLE . SINCE THESE PROCEEDINGS ARE , IN SO FAR AS THE PARTIES TO THE MAIN ACTION ARE CONCERNED , IN THE NATURE OF A STEP IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THE NATIONAL COURT , THE DECISION ON COSTS IS A MATTER FOR THAT COURT .

Operative part

ON THOSE GROUNDS ,

THE COURT ( THIRD CHAMBER )

IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION PUT TO IT BY THE CHAMBRE COMMERCIALE OF THE FRENCH COUR DE CASSATION BY A JUDGMENT OF 1 JULY 1980 , HEREBY RULES :

FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION OF MONETARY COMPENSATORY AMOUNTS EMMENTALER CHEESE EXPORTED FROM FRANCE TO ITALY AND BELGIUM DURING THE PERIODS FROM 12 AUGUST TO 24 OCTOBER 1974 , 20 JANUARY TO 28 APRIL 1975 AND 27 MARCH TO 24 SEPTEMBER 1976 FELL WITHIN TARIFF SUBHEADING 04.04 Al.


Citations

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