1. Within the European Union (referred to as EU throughout), and specifically European Union Law, there are a number of directives, legislation and case law which does appear to protect EU citizens and their possibility to have a ‘decent life’. However, there are some exceptions to this, and some cases do not seem to be protecting Union Citizen’s chances of having a ‘decent life’. Firstly, I will be discussing how the EU protects its citizens, and in what context it does so, then I will provide a contrast as to how the EU can sometimes fail to protect what is in its citizens interests to determine whether this statement is correct, in my opinion. I will begin by ‘stripping back’ EU law so to speak, and begin at the core, where we see the mechanisms enforced by EU legislation and directives, such as the principles of proportionality and direct effect.
In the case of Van Duyn C-41/74, which concerned free movement of persons, the rationale was that denying the directives set by the EU would be incompatible with their binding effect to say that the directives could not have direct effect. This case allowed the claimant to exercise her rights as an EU national, therefore allowing her to have the chance of having a ‘decent life’ in the United Kingdom, which she wished to reside.Directives only have direct effect in vertical direct effect situations, meaning they can only be invoked against public authorities rather than individuals. In Von ColsonC-14/83, the Von Colson principle was developed; where it was determined that national courts are part of the state and they are therefore under an obligation to interpret national laws with EU law, which in this case, allowed an individual to bring forward a case against another individual in a national court to enforce EU law.
These two cases in particular are valid examples of how the EU will impose its supremacy and legislation over member states, to ensure all citizens have the chance to be treated justly and to have the possibility of leading a ‘decent life’. Of course, the EU does not just enforce its legislation and directives on individual citizens as seen in the two cases above, it also concerns organisations and free movement of establishment and goods. Article 30 TFEU states: “customs duties on imports and exports and charges having equivalent effect shall be prohibited by member states.
This prohibition shall also apply to custom duties of a fiscal nature”.The prohibition set out in this particular article is defined as absolute- nothing can justify in a court of EU law a breach of this article. This is because the EU is a single market that has no obstacles in the way of free trade between member states.However, even though article 30 is absolute, there are certain charges which are permitted.
In Commission v Belgium C-132/82 there were two charges in particular which were relevant; one which was considered a charge which was equivalent to customs duty as it applied to everyone, and a second charge which was optional and was for a genuine service. This shows us the limits of article 30; being that anything which is optional and is in return for a specific service can be justified in court. EU legislation also attempts to make competition of goods fair for businesses.
In Commission v France C-168/78 the courts had to decide whether grain based alcoholic products were in competition with fruit based alcoholic products, as France produced the majority of the fruit based alcoholic products, but the tax was higher on the grain based alcoholic products, which will have mainly been imported into France. The courts decided that the two types of alcohol were in competition with one another, as the fruit based products may be purchased more than the grain based products due to the higher pricing. This again allows for fairness within the single market, and allows competitors equal treatment as free movement of goods does not allow for discriminatory treatment on imported goods. Article 34 TFEU deals with MEQR’s – elimination of quantitative restrictions on imports and measures having equivalent effect. Its definition was highlighted in the Dassonville C-8/74 case, where Belgian law required scotch whiskey to be sold only if they had a certificate of origin included. When traders who were selling whiskey were caught for selling it without the certificate of origin needed, they were prosecuted.
However, they had purchased the whiskey from France, where a certificate was not needed to sell this product there. The courts held that trading rules which are capable of hindering intra-community trade could be in breach of art 34 TFEU. This shows that the European Union can in fact impose rules and values upon member states in order to achieve a free single market which does not hinder intra-community trade.The mutual recognition rule defined in Cassis de Dijon C-120/78 determined that products which have been lawfully produced in a member state then that product can be supplied freely in another member state. If this was not the case, this would impose a restriction on the free movement of goods in articles 34 and 34 TFEU, unless the state can justify the measures (set out in article 36 TFEU).
Citizenship and free movement of persons is also a vital segment of EU law, allowing EU citizens to live and move where they please.Free movement of persons concerns those who are self-employed, employees and legal persons (companies). Case C-212/06 provides the test for free movement of persons, which states: “national measures capable of hindering the exercise of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the treaty or of making it less attractive may be allowed only if they pursue a legitimate objective in the public interest, are appropriate of ensuring the attainment of that objective and dot not go beyond what is necessary to attain the objective pursued.” Free movement of persons applies in a personal scope – the nationality of the EU member state and by a material scope – there must be a cross border element for free movement of persons to apply.The European Union provides rights to workers in their host member state, including; rights to residence (citizenship directive art 24), rights for family members (citizenship directive art 24 and workers regulations art 7-9) and equal treatment along with the member state nationals. This is a fundamental part of EU law which provides that all EU citizens are able to move freely and not be discriminated against within their host member state. Nonetheless, there are provisions affecting rights of workers in their host MS.
In Even (C-207/78), the courts decided that “benefits which whether or not linked to a contract of employment are generally granted to national workers primarily because of their objective status as workers or by virtue of the mere fact of their residence on the national territory and the extension of which to workers who are nationals of other member states therefore seems suitable to facilitate their mobility within the union”.There are in place a number of provisions which prohibits member states from directly or indirectly discriminating against workers. Special recruitment procedures for foreigners was caught under art 3(2) of the Workers Directive, requirements of certificate of bilingualism for employment (Angonese C-281/09) and rules which restrict access to social benefits (Christini C-32/75). I have now shown a number of valid examples of how the European Union enforces legislation to protect EU citizens. I will now give examples of where decisions made by the European Court of Justice/ their provisions have not benefitted EU citizens.Many of these concern free movement of persons and citizenship in particular.