Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Directive 2000/78/EC — Equal treatment in employment and occupation — Article 2(2) — Prohibition of any discrimination on grounds of disability — Collective agreement on social security — Bridging assistance paid to former civilian employees of the Allied forces in Germany — Termination of the payment of that assistance when the recipient becomes entitled to early payment of a retirement pension for disabled persons under the statutory pension scheme.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Third Chamber) hereby rules:
Article 2(2) of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation must be interpreted, in a case such as that in the main proceedings, as precluding a provision in a collective agreement under which the payment of bridging assistance — granted with the aim of ensuring a reasonable means of subsistence to a worker who has lost his job until he is entitled to a retirement pension under the statutory pension scheme — must cease once that worker is entitled to early payment of a retirement pension for severely disabled persons under that scheme.
67) As regards the context of Paragraph 8(1)(c) of the TV SozSich, the German Government submits that social partners, in respect of collective agreements, are not required to choose the most equal, reasonable or appropriate solution. They enjoy the privileges deriving from the right of collective bargaining under Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’).
68) The Court has held that the nature of measures adopted by way of a collective agreement differs from the nature of those adopted unilaterally by way of legislation or regulation by the Member States in that the social partners, when exercising their fundamental right to collective bargaining recognised in Article 28 of the Charter, have taken care to strike a balance between their respective interests (judgment of 8 September 2011, Hennigs and Mai, C‑297/10 and C‑298/10, EU:C:2011:560, paragraph 66 and the case-law cited).
69) Where the right of collective bargaining proclaimed in Article 28 of the Charter is covered by provisions of EU law, it must, within the scope of that law, be exercised in compliance with that law (judgment of 8 September 2011, Hennigs and Mai, C‑297/10 and C‑298/10, EU:C:2011:560, paragraph 67 and the case-law cited).