Between 1992 and 2002, French economic agricultural committees received public funding to finance an aid mechanism known as contingency plans in the fruit and vegetable sector (plans de campagne). The measures intended to deal with the crisis caused by a surplus of French products on the internal market, in particular by subsidising selling prices and providing subsidies for the storage or destruction of a part of the harvest and providing financial incentives to process fresh products.
On 28 January 2009, following an in-depth assessment of the scheme, the Commission adopted a negative decision [C 29/05 (ex NN57/05)] concluding that the French contingency plans were incompatible with the internal market. The Commission ordered the recovery of the aid unlawfully made available to the beneficiaries.
The decision laid down France's obligation concerning the immediate and effective execution of the decision and required France to ensure the full implementation of the measure within four months of the decision. In addition, France was under an obligation to inform the Commission within two months of the date of notification of the decision, of the measures taken to comply with it.
More than four years after the adoption of the decision, France has only recovered a minor part of the illegal and incompatible aid and not all the beneficiaries have yet been identified. France has not fulfilled its obligations as set out in the Commission Decision of 28 January 2009. Consequently, the Commission has now decided to take this matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union according to EU competition rules.