The Household Mask – The Fundamental Right to the Access to Justice and to Online Court Sessions in times of COVID-19

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 by Marcílio Franca, Professor at Federal University of Paraíba (Brazil)
 and Inês Virgínia Prado Soares, Federal Judge (Brazil)

The application of contention measures and social isolation due to COVID-19 has caused a great impact on the operation of the whole justice system – in courtrooms, law firms etc. in the world and in Brazil alike. Brazil’s National Council of Justice (Conselho Nacional de Justiça – CNJ) has been working from home since March 12 as a way to administer justice during the most critical period of the pandemic. On March 26, The National Council of the Prosecution Office (Conselho Nacional do Ministério Público – CNMP) determined the uniformization of the measures to prevent Coronavirus at all branches of the Prosecution Office in Brazil, making remote work and conference calls mandatory.

In turn, Brazil’s highest Court, the Supreme Federal Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal – STF) published Resolution 672/2020 on March 27 to allow the use of conference calls on its trial sessions. Such document, as those issued by CNJ and CNMP, does not detail the formalities to be respected, which intuitively leads us to believe things must be done as they always have been, including themes such as language and the attire.
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Human dignity, child protection and the case C-233-18 (12 of November 2019)

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  by Maria Inês Costa, Master's student in Human Rights at UMinho


The first article of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights focuses on the preservation of the human being’s dignity. Gomes Canotilho and Vital Moreira highlight that the dignity of the human person is the mainstay of the principle of equality, in the sense that it is not possible to weight or grade “dignities”: it belongs to everyone, not just the “normal” people, but also the disabled, criminals and with “deviations”, not just to national citizens (and Europeans), but also to foreigners, stateless people, refugees and the exiles. This observation presents a vision of human dignity as something that belongs to everyone by virtue of being human, and not due to some exceptional condition. It is a right that is ours, and under no circumstances can it be taken away from us.

Having these ideas present in mind, it is of great relevance to pay attention to the process and conclusions that can be taken from the publishing of the judgement of the EU Court of Justice, written following the case C-233/18, that opposed Zubair Haqbin to Fedasil, the Federal Agency for the reception of asylum seekers, in Belgium.

Zubair, a young minor of Afghan nationality, applied for international protection to the Belgian authorities on 23 December 2015. He was taken to a center in Sugny and Brochem, and he was also appointed a tutor.

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We are all in the same boat! On the legal principle of solidarity and its legal implications in the recent CJEU case law

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by Alessandra Silveira, Editor

The Opinion of the Advocate-General Eleanor Sharpston in the joined cases C-715/17, C‑718/17 and C‑719/17 (delivered on 31 October 2019) concluded by recalling an old story from the Jewish tradition that deserves wider circulation – particularly in times of COVID-19 pandemic. A group of men are travelling together in a boat. Suddenly, one of them takes out an auger and starts to bore a hole in the hull beneath himself. His companions remonstrate with him. ‘Why are you doing that?’ they cry. ‘What are you complaining about?’ says he. ‘Am I not drilling the hole under my own seat?’ ‘Yes,’ they reply, ‘but the water will come in and flood the boat for all of us’ (paragraph 255).

The story is recalled by the Advocate-General regarding the principle of solidarity provided in Article 80 TFEU: “The policies of the Union set out in this Chapter [‘Policies on border checks, asylum and immigration’] and their implementation shall be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including its financial implications, between the Member States. Wherever necessary, Union acts adopted pursuant to this Chapter shall contain appropriate measures to give effect to this principle”.

On this principle – which requires all Member States – the Advocate-General stated that “respecting the ‘rules of the club’ and playing one’s proper part in solidarity with fellow Europeans cannot be based on a penny-pinching cost-benefit analysis along the lines (familiar, alas, from Brexiteer rhetoric) of ‘what precisely does the EU cost me per week and what exactly do I personally get out of it?’ Such self-centredness is a betrayal of the founding fathers’ vision for a peaceful and prosperous continent. It is the antithesis of being a loyal Member State and being worthy, as an individual, of shared European citizenship. If the European project is to prosper and go forward, we must all do better than that” (paragraph 254 of the Opinion).
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The fundamental right to life in the case Soares Campos v. Portugal: where do we stand?

by Mariana Alvim, PhD candidate and member of CIDP

Brief description of the Case

The present case[i] concerned the death of Mr. Soares Campos’s son who was swept out to sea while taking part in a gathering related to Praxe[ii] in a beach in Portugal.

Mr. Soares Campos (hereafter “applicant” or “claimant”) lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights (hereafter “Court” or “ECtHR”) on the 27 May 2016.

The applicant based his complain on the procedural aspect of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (hereafter “ECHR” or “Convention”), sustaining that there was not an effective investigation capable of establishing the circumstances of his son’s death.

The claimant also grounded his complain in a substantive aspect of Article 2 of the Convention, declaring that his son’s death had been caused by the lack of a legal framework regulating Praxe activities in the Portuguese Universities.
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Religious freedom, equal treatment in employment and occupation and case C-193/17 (22 January 2019)

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 by Maria João Lourenço, Assistant lecturer at UMinho

The phenomenon of globalization, contrary to expectations, has made cultural diversity and pluralism even more evident[i]. Because of multiculturalism, States are confronted with an increasing number of conflicts between minority legal orders and their national law, which is intended for the cultural majority.

In this chronicle, based on a recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, we will reflect on a question which, although not new, continues to deserve particular attention since it violates the most basic principle of equality and, in the context of industrial relations, a clear discrimination on grounds of religion.

The case

A request for a preliminary ruling was made about the interpretation of Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 11, Article 2(2)(a), Article 2(5) and Article 7(1) of Directive 2000/78/EC, which establishes a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation during professional activity.

The reference for a preliminary ruling was made in the context of a dispute between Cresco Investigation GmbH and Markus Achatzi concerning the right of the applicant to receive a supplementary compensation in respect of the remuneration paid due to work on a Good Friday.
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The “VAR” annuls the goal of the European Commission to FC Barcelona and the Spanish teams win. Commentary on the Judgment of the General Court (Fourth Chamber) of 26 February 2019 Fútbol Club Barcelona v European Commission Case T-865/16

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by Javier Porras Belarra, Professor and researcher at the Faculty of Law, CEU San Pablo University (Madrid)

Today (almost) no one doubts that football not only is the star sport in Europe (without detracting from all the rest) but also has become an industry that generates millions of euros around sports clubs[i]. This circumstance increased throughout the 20th century but it became especially marked in the 90s and the beginning of the 21st century when the income of sports clubs in this field increased the most. There have been many actions that have contributed to this phenomenon (the professionalization of the major leagues, the updating and improvement of European competitions by UEFA[ii] or the consequences of the freedom of movement of workers athletes within the European Union with independence of his nationality thanks to the famous Bosman case[iii]).

In this sense, shortly after the accession of Spain to the then European Communities, a new sports law was passed in this country[iv]. Through this law the figure of the SAD (Sports Public Limited Companies) was created as a variant of the typical corporations of commercial law. Under the praiseworthy purpose of providing greater control and transparency to the structures of professional football, the Law established a kind of punishment or sanction for “indebted” clubs, forcing them to adopt the legal form of SAD, which theoretically guaranteed a better and clearer future performance while allowing the “healthy” entities to continue competing under the legal associative form of the sports clubs.
Continue reading “The “VAR” annuls the goal of the European Commission to FC Barcelona and the Spanish teams win. Commentary on the Judgment of the General Court (Fourth Chamber) of 26 February 2019 Fútbol Club Barcelona v European Commission Case T-865/16″

A (in)definition of public service through the State aid rule

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 by Ana Filipa Afonseca, member of CEDU

The State often reveals itself (or is said to be) incapable of pursuing the public interest through its own resources. This is the reason why the economic operators are compensated for the public activities they provide, in the so-called Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI), according to Article 14 of TFEU.

Beyond all the political discussion about the raison d’être of the State underlying this rule, the limit between an incompatible State aid and this compensation is often too thin and unclear.

Naturally, several questions arise about the (good or bad) management of state resources – which the CJEU gradually solves. These issues already go beyond the choice of the private entity or even the overcompensation (which is politically the most contested by citizens and the Court always claims to be against EU law) but they also bring up a discussion on the definition of public service of general economic interest.

The case T-92/11 RENV, which opposed Jorgen Anderson to the European Commission, initiated in Denmark concerning public transportation. In that country there are two systems of transport services: the free traffic system, commercially exploited, and the public traffic system, negotiated with public entities through a public contract.
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Judgment “Altun”: priority to fight against cross-border social security fraud and social dumping or a just a trick mirror?

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by Marc Morsa, Senior Researcher at the Faculty of Law of the University of Louvain-La-Neuve

1. Social dumping and binding force of E101 certificate (A1 document)

1.1 The scope of the binding force of E101 certificate

In the fight against cross-border social fraud and social dumping the competent authorities of the host Member State in whose territory posted workers are employed often come up against the binding force attached to the E101 certificates stating that the worker concerned continued to be subject to the legislation of that Member State, and until which date. This binding force has been defined by the ECJ in a well-established jurisprudence[i]. This certificate thus necessarily implies that the other Member State’s social security system cannot apply[ii]. It establishes a presumption that the worker concerned is properly registered with the social security system of the Member State in which the undertaking employing him is established[iii][iv]

1.2 The cornerstone of the binding force of E101 certificate: the principles of loyal cooperation and mutual trust between the EU and its Member States

For the ECJ this presumption of regularity of affiliation derives from the principle of loyal cooperation, set out in Article 4 (3) TEU and its corollary, the principle of mutual trust[v]. Both principles impose on the social security institutions concerned a double reciprocal and interdependent obligation[vi]. Thus, to the negative obligation incumbent on the competent institution of the host Member State (and on all the courts and tribunals of the Member States regardless of the nature of the proceedings brought, whether civil or criminal) not to unilaterally challenge the certificate E101 – its particulars[vii] and not to question the validity of an E 101 certificate in the light of the elements on the basis of which it was issued corresponds to the positive obligation incumbent on the competent institution (issuing the E 101 certificate) to make a proper assessment of the facts relevant for the application of the rules relating to the determination of the legislation applicable to social security and, consequently, to ensure that the information contained in an E 101 certificate is accurate[viii].
Continue reading “Judgment “Altun”: priority to fight against cross-border social security fraud and social dumping or a just a trick mirror?”

Just married, indeed! Same-sex marriage and free movement of EU citizens – the ECJ’s ruling in Coman and Others

 

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 by Sophie Perez Fernandes, Junior Editor

In a previous post, a report was given of the Opinion of Advocate General Wathelet, in the Coman and Others case. Based on a literal, contextual and teleological interpretation of Directive 2004/38, in particular its Article 2(2)(a), the Advocate General called for an autonomous and uniform interpretation throughout the EU of the term ‘spouse’ within the meaning of the directive, an interpretation which is independent of sexual orientation. Now that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has delivered its ruling, the relevant interpretation of the term ‘spouse’ within the meaning of Directive 2004/38 has been made clear.

The Coman and Others case concerns the situation of Mr. Relu Adrian Coman, who holds both Romanian and American citizenship, and who married Mr Robert Clabourn Hamilton, a US citizen, in Belgium in 2010. Since the end of 2012, the couple have taken steps so that Mr Hamilton could, as a member of Mr Coman’s family, obtain the right to lawfully reside in Romania for a period of more than three months. Their request was denied on the basis that, under the Romanian Civil Code, marriage between people of the same sex is not recognised, and that an extension of Mr Hamilton’s right of temporary residence in Romania could not be granted on grounds of family reunion. Thereafter, the couple brought an action against the decision seeking, inter alia, a declaration of discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation as regards the exercise of the right of freedom of movement in the EU. In that dispute, they also argued that the relevant provisions of the Civil Code were unconstitutional, plea on which the Curtea Constituţională (Constitutional Court, Romania) was requested to rule on.
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MEO – Serviços de Comunicações e Multimedia S.A. v. Competition Authority (C-525/16) case

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 by Nuno Calaim Lourenço, Managing Associate at SRS Advogados

On 19 April 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered its judgment in the MEO – Serviços de Comunicações e Multimedia S.A. v. Competition Authority (C-525/16) case. The judgment provides important criteria of analysis with regard to the constituent elements of an abuse of a dominant position by discrimination, under the regime of Article 102 (c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and advances the proposition that such conduct is not subject to a per se prohibition rule. The judgment clarifies, in particular, that in the case of second-degree price discrimination (directed at customers in a downstream market with whom the dominant undertaking does not compete) an infringement of competition rules only occurs if the discrimination entails actual or potential anti-competitive effects that may distort competition between downstream operators. In other words, it is the effective competitive disadvantage that results from discrimination, which must be demonstrated by reference to the actual circumstances of the case, including the impact on the costs, income and profitability structures of the affected party – rather than the practice of discrimination considered in abstract – which constitutes the criterion for the existence of an abuse. Although it does not create any ‘safe harbours’, this important clarification allows dominant companies greater flexibility in adapting their pricing policies to different market realities and does not coerce them into applying uniform tariffs.
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