The European Union (EU) has a somewhat ambivalent relationship with minority rights. According to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), respect for ‘the rights of persons belonging to minorities’ is among the EU’s founding values. Article 3(3) of that Treaty also provides that the Union ‘shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity’, as affirmed in Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. More generally, the EU famously claims to be ‘united in diversity’. But beyond these broad statements of principle, EU law offers little in the way of concrete, targeted minority rights guarantees.
Not just another Islamic headscarf case: LF v SCRL and the CJEU’s missed opportunity to inch closer to acknowledging intersectionality
On 13 October 2022, the CJEU (hereinafter: the Court) issued a judgment on religious discrimination in employment. In Case C-344/20 (LF v SCRL), the Court held that neutrality provisions prohibiting workers from manifesting their religious or philosophical beliefs do not constitute direct discrimination, provided that they are applied in a general and undifferentiated way.
This ruling is not an anomaly in the Court’s corpus of equality cases concerning Islamic headscarves. However, its significance lies in the Court’s responses to the other questions referred by the French-speaking Brussels Labour Court in Belgium. The referred questions challenged the Court to reassess three elements: its delineation between direct and indirect discrimination, its delineation of comparators in religious discrimination cases, and the acknowledgement of intersectional religious and gender discrimination. Intersectional discrimination describes synergistic disadvantage on the basis of two or more discrimination grounds, resulting in a unique form of discrimination. The aforementioned three elements are interconnected and impact the Court’s overall stance towards intersectionality. By not engaging with these three elements thoroughly, and most notably by not engaging in intersectional analysis of the alluded religious and gender discrimination, it forewent an opportunity to inch closer to acknowledging intersectionality. This is notable, particularly as AG Medina’s Opinion to the case delves into an extensive intersectional analysis.Continue reading
Completing the Capital Markets Union: The Commission’s Proposal for a Directive Harmonising Certain Aspects of Insolvency Law
On 7th December 2022, the European Commission proposed a Directive for the harmonisation of certain aspects of insolvency law. With the objective to foster financial and economic integration in the European Union, the proposal is part of the Commission´s priority to advance the Capital Markets Union (CMU).
While the free flow of capital is one of the fundamental freedoms recognised in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the completion of the CMU is a long and ongoing process that requires legislative measures to be adopted on a step-by-step basis. Following a first action plan in 2015 and based on a report of a high-level forum on the CMU, a second action plan was adopted by the Commission in 2020. This plan sets out sixteen key measure necessary for the completion of a CMU, which target more accessible financing for European companies, aim to enhance the level of retail investor´s participation in capital markets and to integrate national capital markets into a genuine single market (COM(2020) 590 final, 6-7).Continue reading
‘Qatargate’ exposes a long-denounced inadequacy of the ethics framework for members of the EU institutions
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, declared that ‘European democracy is under attack’ and announced the launch of a reform process following the arrests of four people on 9 December 2022, as a result of an investigation into suspicions of corruption to the benefit of Qatar. Among them, the most prominent name is Eva Kaili, at the time Vice-President of the European Parliament, who has as a result been stripped of her title. Former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Pier Antonio Panzeri is also involved. The problem is that, considering the long-denounced shortcomings of the current ethics frameworks applicable to the members of EU institutions, it was just a matter of time before such a scandal occurred: action should have been taken earlier.
The goal of this post is to examine the most evident shortcomings of the current ethics frameworks for members and staff of the EU institutions involved in the legislative procedures, namely, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (Council): the excessive laxity of some of the provisions, the insufficient monitoring of the compliance with the rules and their weak enforcement failed to deter this scandal from happening.Continue reading
I’ll be honest: I don’t like football. I think it is overcommercialised, involves way too much money and an excessive amount of public resources and the competition on the pitch has precious little to do with athletes trying to outcompete another (I’ve always liked rowing better). With that out of the way, we can now move on to discuss the recent opinion by Advocate General Rantos in Superleague.
The facts leading to Superleague are clear and widely known. A number of high-ranking football clubs sought to create their own league, the Superleague. This would allow these founding clubs to organize an extra football competition involving them and a limited number of other clubs. The Superleague initiative met with broad opposition ranging from fans, politicians, other football clubs and, notably, UEFA and FIFA. This resulted in the failure of the project that, however, did not stop the Madrid Commercial Court from making a very interesting preliminary reference to the Court.Continue reading
As we are reaching the end of 2022, we would like to present to you the European Law Blog’s top ten most-read blog posts of the year. This list of top ten provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the most popular blog posts, to offer an insight into the topics that have gotten the most attention from our readers this past year, and to thank all the authors who have contributed to our blog.
Without further ado, here is our top ten most-read posts of 2022:
How did the ECJ balance the rights to privacy and data protection against transparency of Ultimate Beneficial Owners registries in WM and Sovim SA v Luxembourg Business Registers?
While the eyes of the world are on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the highest referee in the European Union (EU) – the Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ), sitting as the Grand Chamber – ruled in favour of privacy and data protection of the ultimate beneficial owners (UBO) of corporate entities, whose fundamental rights were infringed by one of the provisions of the EU secondary law. In judgment WM and Sovim SA v Luxembourg Business Registers (joined Cases C‑37/20 and C‑601/20) delivered on 22 November 2022, in the preliminary reference procedure, the ECJ struck down a provision of the EU Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) legal framework, which since early 2020 required a considerable amount of information about UBOs to be accessible to the general public. In the view of the Court, the access in all cases of any member of the general public to such information constitutes a serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and the right to the protection of personal data, enshrined respectively in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR), which is neither limited to what is strictly necessary nor, as one can infer from the reasoning of the Court, proportionate to the objective pursued (paras 44, 76 and 77 read jointly with 85 and 86).
On November 9, 2022, after conducting a year-long debate (the debate had been originally launched in February 2020, but then re-launched after the COVID-19 pandemic on October 2021), the European Commission proposed an overhaul of the European Union’s (EU) economic governance framework. If eventually pursued, this will be the third overhaul of the framework since its original adoption 25 years ago. How have these changes affected or will affect the modus operandi of the EU?
This post first lays out the existing economic governance framework of the EU before looking at the proposals made by the Commission.Continue reading