Case C-459/03 Commission v. Ireland
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 101, 2007
18 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2007
On May 30, 2006, the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ) ruled on Case C-459/03, Commission v. Ireland, brought by the European Commission and alleging Ireland's failure to fulfill obligations under the Treaty Establishing the European Community. In 2001, Ireland had initiated proceedings against the United Kingdom before an ad hoc Arbitral Tribunal, pursuant to the Annex VII dispute settlement procedures of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In the present case, the Commission alleged, first, that Ireland breached Article 292 of the EC Treaty and Article 193 of the EURATOM Treaty (EA Treaty) because, by submitting the dispute to Annex VII arbitration, Ireland failed to respect the ECJ's exclusive jurisdiction on the interpretation and application of EC law. Second, the Commission claimed that Ireland had violated Article 10 of the EC Treaty and Article 192 of the EA Treaty because, by not consulting with the Commission before initiating arbitral proceedings, Ireland had hindered the achievement of the EC's tasks and jeopardized the attainment of the objectives of the EC Treaty. The Court upheld all complaints.
The case was the latest, though not the last, stage of a complex legal dispute pitting Ireland against the United Kingdom over the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant (the so-called MOX plant) at Sellafield, West Cumbria, which is in the northwest of England, on the Irish Sea coast.
Commission v. Ireland is of interest to EC law scholars and European decision makers, both in Brussels and state capitals. However, it also has significance and ramifications well beyond the circumscribed European context. While the dispute is not the only one in which EC members have brought a dispute before an international adjudicative body other than the ECJ, it is the first time the ECJ had a chance to decide whether doing so is contrary to EC laws.
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