The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided that a Community regulation, which imposes obligations on individuals but has not been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, has no binding force.
This case arose from an incident at Vienna Airport where Gottfried Heinrich was ordered to leave the plane before take-off because his cabin baggage contained tennis racquets.
In 2003, the European Commission adopted Regulation (EC) No 622/2003 implementing Regulation (EC) No 2320/2002 on aviation security. This legislation contained an annex stating the types of product prohibited on board aeroplanes. The amended version of this annex was not published.
The ECJ pointed out that, according to Article 254 EC, a regulation cannot take effect in law unless it has been published in the Official Journal. It must be assumed that the Annex may impose obligations on individuals and thus it cannot be enforced against them before they have learned of its existence. The list of prohibited objects does not fall within any category of measures that are treated as secret, so the Commission could not apply the rules on confidentiality to amendments to the list. The ECJ therefore concluded that the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 622/2003 has no binding force insofar as it purports to impose obligations on individuals.