In this case the EU General Court considered applications by the Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom for the annulment of EU sanctions targeted at the Russian oil & gas sector in the light of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine.
The challenged measures were within Council Decision 2014/521/CFSP as amended and Council Regulation (EU) 833/2014 as amended. The grounds for annulment included:
- A failure to comply with the duty to give reasons under Article 296 TFEU;
- Lack of a legitimate aim and/or lack of a rational connection with the stated aim;
- Breach of the EU-Russia Partnership and Co-Operation Agreement and/or the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; and
- Disproportionate interference with the applicants’ rights under Article 16 (right to conduct a legitimate business) and Article 17 (right to property) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Additional issues included:
- Whether, in relation to Decision 2014/512/CFSP, the applications met the criteria imposed by Article 275 TFEU for the Court to have jurisdiction to rule on the validity of provisions within a Common Foreign and Security Policy Measure; and
- Whether, in relation to Regulation 833/2014, the applicants had standing under Article 263(4) TFEU either on the basis that they were directly and individually concerned, or on the basis that they were directly concerned and the provisions in question did not entail implementing measures.
Charles Banner appeared as sole counsel for the United Kingdom, which intervened in support of the EU Council’s defence of the applications.