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Case law

The Court ruled that the Union constitutes a legal order of international law. The States have limited their sovereign rights for the benefit of this legal order. The subjects of this order include not only the Member States, but also their nationals. Union law imposes obligations on individuals and is intended to confer upon them rights which become part of their legal heritage. Therefore, the Court held that the Treaty provision which established the European Economic Community (now EC/EU) has direct effect. Full text

Member States have contested the intervention of the EC in migration and integration policies. In this case the Court ruled that migration policy falls within the social field of the Treaty. This concerns only the situation of workers from non-member countries as to their impact on the Union employment market and on working conditions. Cultural integration can be linked with the effects of migration policy. However, it is aimed at immigrant communities in general. There is no strong link with the employment market and working conditions.
The Treaty gives the Commission the powers which are necessary in order to carry out this task. In this situation, the Commission has the power to arrange consultations. Full text

The Council has concluded Association Agreements, for example with Turkey. The Court has jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings on the interpretation of those Agreements.
In this case the Court held that the provisions of an Association Agreement must be regarded as directly applicable if the provision contains a clear and precise obligation, regarding its wording and the purpose and nature of the agreement itself. However, this obligation may not be subject, in its implementation or effects, to the adoption of any following measure. Article 12 of this Agreement and Article 36 of the additional protocol have no direct effect. Full text

In this case Article 41 EC-Morocco Cooperation Agreement, which prohibits discrimination in the field of social security, is discussed. The Court confirmed that this provision has direct effect since the provision contains a clear and precise obligation, regarding its wording and the purpose and nature of the agreement itself. This obligation is not subject, in its implementation or effects, to the adoption of any following measure. Full text

In this case the Court held that the medical termination of pregnancy is considered a service since medical activities fall within the scope of the concept of services under the Treaty. Abortion is seen as a controversial area. In this case abortion was illegal under national law but was still a service under EC law. The distribution of information on an economic activity was not regarded as a service but as a freedom of expression. Full text

The Court made clear the difference between the right of establishment and the right to provide services. If a national of a Member State pursues an activity on a stable and continuous basis in another Member State, the rules on establishment are applicable. However, if a person moves to another Member State to provide services on a temporary basis, this falls within the rules to provide services.
National conditions which hinder or make less attractive the exercise of a fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Treaty are only lawful if they satisfy certain requirements:
-they must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner;
-they must be justified by imperative requirements in the general interest;
-they must be suitable for securing the attainment of the objective which they pursue;
-they must not go beyond what is necessary in order to attain it. Full text

The Court confirmed that fundamental rights form an integral part of the general principles of Union law. With regard to the observance of these rights, the Court looks at the constitutional traditions of the Member States and at the international treaties for the protection of human rights of which the Member States are signatories.
The Court underlined that it has no jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings regarding national legislation that lies outside the scope of Union law. Full text

This case concerned the EC Association Agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic. The Court held that Polish and Czech nationals could rely on provisions which have direct effect, including those on the right of establishment. As a result they could invoke those provisions before the courts of the host Member States.
The Court also set out the test to distinguish self-employed persons from workers. A self-employed person is someone who works
-outside any relationship of subordination concerning the choice of the economic activity, working conditions and conditions of remuneration;
-under that person’s own responsibility;

-in return for remuneration paid to that person directly and in full. Full text

This case concerned the free movement of persons in an internal situation. In that situation, EU citizens who are nationals of the host Member State cannot invoke the protection of Union law because of the lack of a cross-border element.
However, the interpretation of Union law by the Court may be useful for the national court. This is particulary the case if the law of the Member State concerned enables every national of that State to enjoy the same rights as those which a national of another Member State would derive from Union law in a comparable situation.
The Court also confirmed that a benefit may be regarded as a social security benefit in so far as it is granted without any individual and discretionary assessment of personal needs. Full text

Article 45 TFEU must be interpreted as precluding legislation of a federated entity of a Member State (in casu Flanders), which requires all employers whose established place of business is located in that entity’s territory to draft cross-border employment contracts exclusively in the official language of that federated entity (in casu Dutch), failing which the contracts are to be declared null and void by the national courts of their own motion. Full text