A ruling from the European General Court has dismissed the appeal filed by Fruits de Ponent in 2016 against the European Commission for the damages suffered during the 2014 stone fruit crisis. As a result, the Cooperative Group wishes to state the following points:
1. Fruits de Ponent welcomes the fact that, for the first time, and thanks to the lawsuit filed by a group of associated producers, the General Court has acknowledged that the sweet fruit sector suffered a very serious crisis in 2014.
2. It was a totally exceptional crisis, so Fruits de Ponent decided that it was necessary to do something to place the spotlight on a situation that should not be repeated in the future. To do this at EU level, it chose the only possible way: filing for damages before the General Court of the Union. The Group's initial intention was to get as many harmed producers and organizations as possible to join in. However, this didn't work out and it chose to pick three cases among its associates which were representative of the situation.
3. Fruits de Ponent positively appreciates that although the European Commission had rejected that there are rules establishing rights for producers harmed by crises such as that of 2014, the Court has ruled in favor of the Cooperative Group in this point. The ruling confirms that there are rules that establish the right of producers affected by the crisis to receive compensations.
4. Moreover, Fruits de Ponent is happy about the Court acknowledging that there are rules that, in the face of this type of crisis, force the European institutions to act in accordance with the principle of diligence and good administration.
5. Fruits de Ponent regrets, however, that the Court of the European Union limits the right of those affected to receive compensations to cases where there has been a particularly serious illegal conduct. In this regard, Fruits de Ponent is concerned that the General Court believes that no sufficiently serious errors were made by the EU administration in 2014, and thus nobody is eligible for compensations.
6. Fruits de Ponent respects the decisions of the Courts, but is analyzing the ruling, and debating what the best course of action could be. It believes that the ruling does not adequately acknowledge the seriousness of the errors committed in 2014.
The ruling can be consulted on the website of the European General Court-Curia of Luxembourg.