The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its Impact on Labor Law: a Plea for a Proportionality-Test "Light"

Herman Voogsgeerd



Traditionally, fundamental human rights have occupied an important place in labor law. The ILO constitution of 1919 focuses, for example, on the right of freedom of association. Subsequent ILO documents stress other fundamental rights such as the right to non-discrimination in the field of labor. The fundamental rights of the worker did begin to get some attention in the EU too, especially in non-binding documents such as the Community Charter of the Rights of the Worker from 1989. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights introduced at the summit in Nice is legally binding to the same extent as the EU Treaty itself. The Charter includes fundamental rights in the field of labor law under the heading ‘solidarity'. In this article two basic questions will be addressed. The first question will address the ‘old' issue of the clash between fundamental (labor) rights and the four economic freedoms of the EU, which are seen by the ECJ as of fundamental nature as well. Since the seminal cases of Viking and Laval, a lot has been written about this theme by both European and labor lawyers. I will not revisit the literature that has been written about these cases, but the more dogmatic issue of a (potential) clash between the four economic freedoms and the fundamental rights is still in need of clarification. The second question is whether the fundamental human rights will get a more important place in the case law of the European Court of Justice now that the Charter of Fundamental Rights is of binding character, or, will there be just a continuation of the already developed relationship between fundamental freedoms and rights or between two different kind of fundamental human rights? I will focus here on case law in the field of labor law. The article will finish with a plea for a proportionality test ‘light' in order to limit the interference of EU law with the essence of fundamental rights.


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