Tuesday 19 January 2010

ECJ: European legislation on anti-discrimination precludes national legislation

UPDATE: See the summary of blog reactions on Kücükdeveci from all over Europe that I have collected.

In what Adjudicating Europe prescribed as an important ruling on Sunday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has today decided in the case of Kücükdeveci that EU legislation on anti-discrimination on the grounds of age precludes any contradictory national legislation.

Here is what the Court decided:
"1. European Union law, more particularly the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age as given expression by Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides that periods of employment completed by an employee before reaching the age of 25 are not taken into account in calculating the notice period for dismissal.

2. It is for the national court, hearing proceedings between individuals, to ensure that the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age, as given expression in Directive 2000/78, is complied with, disapplying if need be any contrary provision of national legislation, independently of whether it makes use of its entitlement, in the cases referred to in the second paragraph of Article 267 TFEU, to ask the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of that principle.
The German constitutional law blog Verfassungsblog.de, referring to the Adjudicating Europe blog post, had predicted that this ECJ ruling (the case is from Germany) would turn out differently, arguing that the ECJ would not like enter into a conflict with the German Constitutional Court.

Just to remember (a little simplified but valid): In his ruling on the Lisbon Treaty last year, the German Constitutional Court had made clear that it reserves itself the right to have a final word on EU legislation of whatever kind, and the ruling of the ECJ today is a clear attack on these self-proclaimed powers.

The Verfassungsblog today admits that the prediction was wrong and that we might now see an arms race between the two courts.

Looks like legal experts in EU law both on the European and national level will have some fun discussions over the time to come - but for EU citizen Seda Kücükdeveci it means that her rights have been violated and that she thus should get adequate compensation.