C-154/04 & C-155/04 Alliance for Natural Health [2005]

In C-154/04 and C-155/04 Alliance for Natural Health v Secretary of State for Health [2005] ECR I-6451, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) demonstrated a perfunctory approach to ensuring compliance with the principle of conferral, seemingly accepting the legislature's assertions at face value. The case involved Directive 2002/46, which aimed to harmonise national rules governing foods containing concentrated sources of nutrients. The directive was based on the premise that legislative diversity was harming the internal market.

The judgment rendered by the Court of Justice affirmed the validity of the directive. In its assessment, the court referred to the recitals of the directive and took into account the observations of both the Parliament and the Council. The court accepted the claim that disruptive legislative diversity existed without delving deeper into the specifics of these claims. Notably, the court mentioned "a substantial number of complaints from economic operators" made to the Commission regarding such variation but did not appear to examine the content of these complaints in detail.

The key aspect of the judgment is the court's acceptance, without further scrutiny, of the reliance on Article 95 EC (now Article 114 TFEU) as the legal basis for the directive. This suggests a willingness on the part of the ECJ to trust the legislature's justification for using this legal basis, even when faced with claims of disruptive legislative diversity. The court's decision appears to be based on the information provided in the directive's recitals and the observations of the Parliament and the Council, without independently assessing the merits of the claimed issues.

In summary, the Alliance for Natural Health case indicates a perfunctory approach by the ECJ in ensuring compliance with the principle of conferral. The court seemed to accept the legislature's assertions and justifications for the directive, relying on recitals and observations without engaging in a detailed examination of the complaints or the actual impact of legislative diversity.
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