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Cite as:  ECR I-1251,  EUECJ C-1/96
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JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
19 March 1998 (1)
(Articles 34 and 36 of the EC Treaty - Directive 91/629/EEC - European Convention on the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes - Recommendation concerning Cattle - Export of calves from a Member State maintaining the level of protection laid down by the Convention and the Recommendation - Export to Member States which comply with the Directive but do not observe the standards laid down in the Convention or the Recommendation and use intensive farming systems prohibited in the exporting State - Quantitative restrictions on exports - Exhaustive harmonisation - Validity of the Directive)
In Case C-1/96,
REFERENCE to the Court under Article 177 of the EC Treaty by the High Court of Justice (England and Wales), Queen's Bench Division, for a preliminary ruling in the proceedings pending before that court between
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
ex parte Compassion in World Farming Limited,
on the interpretation of Articles 34 and 36 of the EC Treaty and the validity of Council Directive 91/629/EEC of 19 November 1991 laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves (OJ 1991 L 340, p. 28),
composed of: G.C. Rodríguez Iglesias, President, C. Gulmann, H. Ragnemalm, M. Wathelet (Presidents of Chambers), G.F. Mancini (Rapporteur), J.C. Moitinho de Almeida, P.J.G. Kapteyn, J.L. Murray, D.A.O. Edward, J.-P. Puissochet, G. Hirsch, P. Jann and L. Sevón, Judges,
Advocate General: P. Léger,
Registrar: L. Hewlett, Administrator,
after considering the written observations submitted on behalf of:
- Compassion in World Farming Limited, by G. Barling QC and P. Duffy, instructed by M. Rose, Solicitor,
- the United Kingdom Government, by J.E. Collins, Assistant Treasury Solicitor, acting as Agent, R. Plender QC and S. Masters, Barrister,
- the French Government, by C. de Salins, Assistant Director in the Legal Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and F. Pascal, Central Administrative Attaché in the same Directorate, acting as Agents,
- the Council of the European Union, by M. Sims-Robertson, Legal Adviser, acting as Agent,
- the Commission of the European Communities, by R. Wainwright, Principal Legal Adviser, and H. Støvlbæk, of its Legal Service, acting as Agents,
having regard to the Report for the Hearing,
after hearing the oral observations of Compassion in World Farming Limited, the United Kingdom Government, the French Government, the Council and the Commission at the hearing on 27 May 1997,
after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 15 July 1997,
gives the following
European Convention on the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes
Recommendation concerning Cattle
Appendix C to the Recommendation
Regulation No 805/68
'1. Member States shall ensure that from 1 January 1994 and for a transitional period of four years, all holdings newly built or rebuilt and/or brought into use for the first time after that date shall comply with at least the following requirements:
- where calves are housed in individual boxes or by tethering in stalls, the boxes or stalls shall have perforated walls and their width must be no less than 90 cm plus or minus 10%, or 0.80 times the height at the withers.
4. The duration of use of installations built:
- before 1 January 1994 which do not meet the requirements of paragraph 1 ... shall under no circumstances extend beyond 31 December 2003;
- during the transitional period, in accordance with paragraph 1, shall under no circumstances extend beyond 31 December 2007, unless on that date they comply with the requirements of this Directive.'
Background to the main proceedings
Questions referred for a preliminary ruling
(a) all of the Member States have become parties to the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes 1976 ("the Convention") and the Convention has been approved by EC Decision 78/923/EEC of 19 June 1978 (OJ 1978 L 323, p. 12);
(b) the 1988 Recommendation concerning Cattle ("the Recommendation") has been adopted by the Standing Committee established pursuant to the Convention and has become effective under the terms of the Convention;
(c) the standards laid down by and pursuant to the Convention contain stipulations as to the minimum width of veal crates and the composition of veal calves' diets;
(d) Council Directive 91/629/EEC lays down obligatory minimum standards for the protection of calves which are lower than the standards laid down by and pursuant to the Convention in certain respects, including the width of veal crates and the composition of calves' diets;
(e) the Directive permits Member States to maintain or apply within their territories stricter provisions for the protection of calves than those laid down in this Directive;
(f) veal calves are exported from a Member State ("Member State A") to certain other Member States ("Member States B") which have implemented and/or complied with the Directive but have not implemented and/or complied with the standards indicated at paragraph (c) above although Member State A has implemented and complied with those standards;
(g) the export of calves to face rearing contrary to the Convention is considered to be cruel and immoral by animal welfare organisations and a considerable body of public opinion, supported by authoritative scientific veterinary opinion, in the Member State from which exports occur.
(1) In the circumstances set out above, may Member State A rely on Article 36 of the EC Treaty and, in particular, the grounds of public morality and/or public policy and/or the protection of the health or life of animals contained therein, to justify any restriction in relation to the export of live calves from Member State A with a view to avoiding the rearing of those calves in the veal crate systems in Member States B?
(2) If the effect of provisions of the Directive, if valid, would be to require the answer "no" to be given to Question (1), are those provisions valid?'
The validity of the Directive
The possibility of relying on Article 36 of the Treaty
research into the most efficient stock-farming system or systems from the perspective of the well-being of calves.
On those grounds,
in answer to the questions referred to it by the High Court of Justice (England and Wales), Queen's Bench Division, by order of 12 December 1995, hereby rules:
1. Consideration of Council Directive 91/629/EEC of 19 November 1991 laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves has disclosed no factor of such a kind as to affect its validity.
2. A Member State which has implemented the 1988 Recommendation concerning Cattle, drawn up to apply the principles of the European Convention on the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, cannot rely on Article 36 of the EC Treaty and, in particular, on the grounds of public morality, public policy or the protection of the health or life of animals laid down in that article, in order to justify restrictions on the export of live calves with a view to preventing those calves from being reared in the veal crate systems used in other Member States which have implemented Directive 91/629 but which do not apply that recommendation.
Rodríguez Iglesias Gulmann
Wathelet Mancini Moitinho de Almeida
Kapteyn Murray Edward Puissochet
Hirsch Jann Sevón
Delivered in open court in Luxembourg on 19 March 1998.
R. Grass G.C. Rodríguez Iglesias
1: Language of the case: English.