Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2007] All ER (D) 360 (Jun)
Court: Court of Justice of the European Communities (Third Chamber)

Judges Rosas (President), Cunha Rodrigues, Lohmus, O Caoimh (Rapporteur) and Lindh

Judgment Dates: 28 June 2007


European Community - Reference to European Court - Request for preliminary ruling concerning interpretation of Community law - Respondent granting applicant refunds in relation to agricultural exports - Copy of export declaration sent to customs office but not placed on the file - Respondent claiming that documents relating to export not received and requesting repayment of export refunds - Applicant submitting further documents - Whether documents constituting request for them to be regarded as equivalent proof of export - Whether national authorities having to consider whether documents equivalent - Commission Regulation (EEC) 3665/87, art 47.

The Case

European Community Reference to European Court. Article 47(3) of Commission Regulation (EEC) 3665-87 (laying down common detailed rules for the application of the system of export refunds on agricultural products), as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) 2955-94, did not apply to the direct export of products. Where, however, as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the exporter, the national export document, proving that the products in question had left the customs territory of the Community, could not be produced, the national authorities competent for export refunds had to take into account, of their own motion, equivalent means of proof and implied requests for documents to be treated as equivalent. Those means of proof had to nevertheless be just as satisfactory for the purpose of the verification in accordance with the detailed rules laid down by national law, provided that those rules respected the scope and effectiveness of Community law. Where the passing of the deadline for furnishing equivalent means of proof was attributable to the competent national authorities, they could not rely on the 12-month period laid down by art47(2) of Regulation 3665-87, as amended, as against a diligent exporter.

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