The requirement for Direct and Individual concern
The Article 230 of EC Treaty and 263(4) TFEU grant a right to affected third parties by some legal acts adopted by the Council, European Parliament, or jointly adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, or by the Commission or the ECB, to ask the Court of Justice of the European Union to review the legality of those legal acts.
Nevertheless, the requirement for the direct and Individual concern implies that the natural or legal person, to institute proceedings against some legal acts, should be addresses of that specific legal act or directly and individually affected by it.
Direct concern means that the impugned act should be directly applicable without any discretion or appreciation by the Member States that mediates between the legal front and its effects for individuals.
The requirement of Individual concern implies that the impugned act should affect the applicant individually. It is more difficult to prove this requirement since the CJEU need to decide whether the impugned act is general or individual and what occurs when a public act contains individualized provisions that can affect specific individuals.
In the first case laws, the Court of Justice took into account only if the legal act was general or individual. That was precisely what happened in this historical case law. It was one of the most critical decisions that marked a point of change regarding this issue.
Case law summary
The applicant, Plaumann & Co, a German importer of clementines, brought an action for annulment against the Commission Decision N.SIII 03079 of 22 May 1962, refusing to authorize Germany to suspend customs duties applicable to clementines imported from third countries.
The CJEU declared the action inadmissible since the Court considered that the applicant might only claim to be individually concerned if that decision affects Plaumann & Co because of specific attributes which are peculiar to them or because of circumstances in which they are differentiated from all other persons and under these factors distinguishes them individually.
Although Plaumann& Co were directly affected by the decision, they were not considered individually concerned since they stood as yet another importer of clementines, and there was nothing to distinguish them.
The Court’s interpretation supposed that even if an interested party is directly affected by a general legal act cannot institute proceedings against generally applicable orders/regulations due to the requirement of individual concern.