Official Journal of the European Union

C 37/20

Action brought on 13 December 2007 — Commission of the European Communities v French Republic

(Case C-556/07)

(2008/C 37/30)

Language of the case: French


Applicant: Commission of the European Communities (represented by: M. Nolin, M. van Heezik, Agents)

Defendant: French Republic

Form of order sought

declare that, by failing sufficiently to monitor, inspect and supervise fishing activities, in particular in the light of the prohibition of drift nets for the capture of certain species, and by not ensuring that appropriate measures against those responsible for infringements of the Community legislation on the use of drift nets were taken, the French Republic failed in its obligations under Articles 2 and 31(1) and (2) of Regulation No 2847/1993 (1) and Articles 23(1) and (2), 24 and 25(1) and (2) of Regulation No 2371/2002 (2);

order the French Republic to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

By its action, the Commission alleges that the defendant applied the Community legislation on fisheries incorrectly. That incorrect application consists, first, in the fact that the French authorities did not consider a ‘thonaille’ (a tuna gillnet) to be a drag net although, by reason of its technical characteristics, the thonaille is one and, as such, is prohibited by Community legislation. The fact that the thonaille can be stabilised with the aid of a floating anchor is, in that regard, irrelevant inasmuch as that stabilisation does not imply that the thonaille cannot drift with sea currents or the wind, but only that it is held by floats and weights in order to optimise its efficiency and to prevent it lying horizontally just below the surface.

The failure to fulfil obligations consists, second, in the lack of an effective monitoring system in order to enforce the ban on drift nets for the capture of certain species and the lack of follow-up in the pursuit of breaches established. The monitoring solely concerns whether national legislation, which is more flexible than the Community legislation, is complied with and the penalties imposed for breach of the legislation are light and of little dissuasive effect.

(1)  Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 of 12 October 1993 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy (OJ 1993 L 261, p. 1).

(2)  Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 of 20 December 2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy (OJ 2002 L 358, p. 59).