Council Decision 8512/15 authorising the Commission to open negotiations, together with member states, regarding the revision of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications, annulled because it falls under the exclusive competence of the Union.
EUROPEAN ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
In this appeal the commission requests the annulment of Council Decision 8512/15 authorising the opening of negotiations on a revised Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications. The Decision includes a number of additions and specifications of the existing Treaty of Lisbon, an agreement to which the Union is not a party but the individual member states are. They form a separate union. The changes include inter alia the entry into force of a system for the protection of appellations of origin and geographical indications through a single registration. The decision is drafted by a working group formed by the Assembly of the Special Union established by the Lisbon Agreement. The Commission finds that this concerns an agreement on the topic of common commercial policy for which the Union has full competence.
The Court of Justice upholds the appeal. To decide whether an agreement concerns the topic of common commercial policy one has to assess whether this decision has the goal to improve trade between the Union and third states that are party to the agreement as well as assess whether this Union act has a direct and immediate effect on trade.
This Decision is intended to strengthen the system introduced with the Lisbon Agreement and extend the specific protection introduced in that Agreement within the Special Union established by the Lisbon Agreement to Appellations of Geographical Origin in addition to protection offered by the Paris Treaty to several kinds of intellectual property. Thus, the contested Decision intends to improve trade between the Union and third states.
The system of a single registration for Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications will also have the consequence that the conditions under which trade between the Union and other parties will be changed due to producers being relieved of the obligation to submit a registration with the competent authorities of either of the parties to the Agreement. Also, parties have to introduce a number of substantive laws about the enforcement and protection of Appellations of Origin, which will also have an immediate effect on trade. Such a revision falls under the exclusive competence of the Union and not under a shared competence between the Union and her Member States, contrary to judgment of the Council.