CJEU Case C-391/09 / Judgment

Malgožata Runevič-Vardyn, Łukasz Paweł Wardyn v Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracija, Lietuvos Respublikos teisingumo ministerija, Valstybinė lietuvių kalbos komisija, Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracijos Teisės departamento Civilinės metrikacijos skyrius
Deciding body type
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding body
Court (Second Chamber)
Type
Decision
Decision date
12/05/2011
ECLI (European case law identifier)
ECLI:EU:C:2011:291
  • CJEU Case C-391/09 / Judgment
    Key facts of the case:
     
    Reference for a preliminary ruling: Vilniaus miesto 1 apylinkės teismas - Lithuania.
    Citizenship of the Union - Freedom to move and reside in the Member States - Principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality - Articles 18 TFEU and 21 TFEU - Principle of equal treatment of persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin - Directive 2000/43/EC - National rules requiring that the surnames and forenames of natural persons must be entered on certificates of civil status in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language.
     
    Outcome of the case:
     

    On those grounds, the Court (Second Chamber) hereby rules:

    1. National rules which provide that a person’s surnames and forenames may be entered on the certificates of civil status of that State only in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language relate to a situation which does not come within the scope of Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin;

    2. Article 21 TFEU must be interpreted as:

    – not precluding the competent authorities of a Member State from refusing, pursuant to national rules which provide that a person’s surnames and forenames may be entered on the certificates of civil status of that State only in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language, to amend, on the birth certificate and marriage certificate of one of its nationals, the surname and forename of that person in accordance with the spelling rules of another Member State; 

    – not precluding the competent authorities of a Member State from refusing, in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings and pursuant to those same rules, to amend the joint surname of a married couple who are citizens of the Union, as it appears on the certificates of civil status issued by the Member State of origin of one of those citizens, in a form which complies with the spelling rules of that latter State, on condition that that refusal does not give rise, for those Union citizens, to serious inconvenience at administrative, professional and private levels, this being a matter which it is for the national court to decide. If that proves to be the case, it is also for that court to determine whether the refusal to make the amendment is necessary for the protection of the interests which the national rules are designed to secure and is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued;

    – not precluding the competent authorities of a Member State from refusing, in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings and pursuant to those same rules, to amend the marriage certificate of a citizen of the Union who is a national of another Member State in such a way that the forenames of that citizen are entered on that certificate with diacritical marks as they were entered on the certificates of civil status issued by his Member State of origin and in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language of that latter State.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    1) Union law – Principles – Equal treatment – Equal treatment of persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin – Directive 2000/43 – Ambit

    (Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Art. 21; Council Directive 2000/43, Art. 3(1))

    ...

    1) National rules which provide that a person’s surnames and forenames may be entered on the certificates of civil status of that State only in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language relate to a situation which does not come within the scope of Directive 2000/43 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.

    Although, in the light of the objective of that directive and the nature of the rights which it seeks to safeguard, and in view of the fact that it is merely an expression, within the area under consideration, of the principle of equality, which is one of the general principles of European Union law, as recognised in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, its ambit may not be defined restrictively, it cannot be held that such national rules come within the concept of a ‘service’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of that directive.

    ...

    43) It should be noted in those circumstances that, in the light of the objective of Directive 2000/43 and the nature of the rights which it seeks to safeguard, and in view of the fact that that directive is merely an expression, within the area under consideration, of the principle of equality, which is one of the general principles of European Union law, as recognised in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the scope of that directive cannot be defined restrictively.

    ...

    66) It must be noted, as a preliminary point, that a person’s forename and surname are a constituent element of his identity and of his private life, the protection of which is enshrined in Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950. Even though Article 8 of that convention does not refer to it expressly, a person’s forename and surname, as a means of personal identification and a link to a family, none the less concern his private and family life (see, inter alia, Sayn-Wittgenstein, paragraph 52 and the case-law cited).

    ...

    86) According to the fourth subparagraph of Article 3(3) EU and Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the Union must respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity. Article 4(2) EU provides that the Union must also respect the national identity of its Member States, which includes protection of a State’s official national language.

    ...

    89) As stated in paragraph 66 above, a person’s surname is a constituent element of his identity and of his private life, the protection of which is enshrined in Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.