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Decision of the European Ombudsman in the case 1691/2020/VS on how the European Commission dealt with a complaint that Ireland had breached EU law (Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 also known as the ‘Animal Breeding Regulation’)

Dear Ms X,

In October 2020, you complained to the European Ombudsman, about how the European Commission dealt with your infringement complaint CHAP(2019) 02502 against Ireland.

In your complaint to the Commission, you argued that the Irish authorities (the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) had breached the Animal Breeding Regulation[1] (‘the Regulation’), as there are no controls or oversight with respect to the Regulation. You referred to the operation of a particular breed society and you claimed that the Irish authorities had not confirmed that the said breed society was operating efficiently and in compliance with the applicable rules.

In your complaint to the Ombudsman, you argue that, in assessing the infringement complaint, the Commission failed to address your concerns. In your view, the Commission wrongly found that there was no issue while you maintain that in Ireland there are no controls in place with respect to the Animal Breeding Regulation.

After a careful analysis of all the information provided with the complaint, we find no indication of maladministration by the European Commission.

The Commission has wide discretion in dealing with infringement complaints[2]. Its policy on infringements of EU law is set out in its communication EU law: Better results through better application[3]. When it comes to infringement complaints, the Ombudsman may examine whether the Commission has clearly explained its position and whether it has given the complainant the opportunity to provide comments before it closes a case. Regarding the substance of an infringement complaint, the Ombudsman may only intervene (by asking the Commission to look at the complaint again) in case there is an indication that the Commission was manifestly wrong in its presentation of the facts or of law.

We note that the Commission gave you the opportunity to comment on its position before it closed the case. We also consider that the Commission provided you with clear information as regards why it closed the infringement complaint.

The Commission said that the complaint did not raise a problem of compliance of Irish legislation with EU law. The Commission also explained that absence of national legislation is not an infringement of EU law, as the provisions of EU Regulations are binding and directly applicable in all Member States.

 The Commission also said that the specific issues raised in the complaint could be better addressed by regional or national authorities as the claim put forward would appear to concern an individual case of alleged incorrect application of EU law. Finally, the Commission provided information about the European e-Justice Portal concerning legal protection at national level.

We find nothing to indicate a manifest error in the Commission’s assessment.

In light of the above, the Ombudsman has closed the case.[4]

While you may be disappointed with the outcome of the case, we hope that you will find the above explanations helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Tina Nilsson
Head of the Case-handling Unit

Strasbourg, 23/10/2020

 

[1] Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products thereof (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.L_.2016.171.01.0066.01.ENG).

[2] See judgment of the Court of 14 February 1989, Starfruit v Commission, 247/87 (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:61987CJ0247&from=EN).

[3] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52017XC0119(01)&from=EN.

[4] Full information on the procedure and rights pertaining to complaints can be found at  

  https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/document/70707.