EU Customs: EU General Court Stops Direct Action to Contest the Legality of Tariff Classification Regulations

The General Court of the European Union in two parallel cases has ruled that the proper forum to challenge EU customs classification regulations is via the national courts and tribunals of EU Member States and not by direct action before the European Courts.   National courts can always refer any specific EU issues to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

At the same time the General Court came up with the surprising conclusion that de facto such customs regulations, which are fully fledged EU regulations, are liable to produce real and definitive legal effects for importers only through the intervention of individual measures taken by the national customs authorities following submission of a customs declaration. 

For importers and companies who  face problems related to a given customs classification regulation - in one or more Member States -  face a longer route to the European Courts - having to raise their EU law complaints first before the national customs administrations, then before the national judge hearing their challenge and only then ultimately through that judge to the EU Courts.

The cases can be consulted here:
1. Case T‑457/11, Valeo Vision v European Commission
2. Case T‑380/11, Anonymi Viotechniki kai Emporiki Etairia Kataskevis Konservon – Palirria Souliotis AE v European Commission

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