Article 15 - Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work
Article 16 - Freedom to conduct a business
Article 20 - Equality before the law
Article 21 - Non-discrimination
Article 51 - Field of application
Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Principles of equality and non-discrimination — Implementation of EU law — Scope of application of EU law — None — Lack of jurisdiction of the Court.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (First Chamber) hereby rules:
The Court of Justice of the European Union has no jurisdiction to answer the question referred by the Grondwettelijk Hof (Belgium).
1) This request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Articles 6(3) TEU and 20 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), read in the light of Articles 15 and 16 of the Charter and Articles 34 TFEU to 36 TFEU, 56 TFEU and 57 TFEU.
13) The Grondwettelijk Hof, before which the question of constitutionality had been brought, decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following question to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:
‘Must the principle of equality, which is enshrined in Article 6(3) [TEU] and in Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter …, in conjunction with Articles 15 and 16 of [the] Charter and Articles 34 to 36, 56 and 57 [TFEU], be interpreted as precluding rules such as those contained in Articles 8, 9, 16 and 17 of the [LHO], in so far as the obligation contained in those articles that a weekly closing day be provided for:
14) By its question, the referring court asks, in essence, whether the principles of equality and non-discrimination, laid down in Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter, read in the light of Articles 15 and 16 of the Charter and Articles 34 TFEU to 36 TFEU, 56 TFEU and 57 TFEU, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation such as the LHO which, subject to a few exceptions, prohibits traders from opening their establishments seven days a week by imposing a requirement of one day of rest per week.
17) It should also be remembered that the Charter’s field of application so far as concerns action of the Member States is defined in Article 51(1) thereof, according to which the provisions of the Charter are addressed to the Member States only when they are implementing EU law (Case C‑617/10 Åkerberg Fransson EU:C:2013:105, paragraph 17).
19) That definition of the field of application of the fundamental rights of the European Union is borne out by the explanations relating to Article 51 of the Charter, which, in accordance with the third subparagraph of Article 6(1) TEU and Article 52(7) of the Charter, have to be taken into consideration for the purpose of interpreting it. According to those explanations, ‘the requirement to respect fundamental rights defined in the context of the Union is only binding on the Member States when they act in the scope of Union law’ (Åkerberg Fransson EU:C:2013:105, paragraph 20).
20) It follows that, where a legal situation does not come within the scope of EU law, the Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on it and any provisions of the Charter relied upon cannot, of themselves, form the basis for such jurisdiction (see, to that effect, the order in Case C‑466/11 Currà and Others EU:C:2012:465, paragraph 26, and Åkerberg Fransson EU:C:2013:105, paragraph 22).
21) These considerations correspond to those underlying Article 6(1) TEU, according to which the provisions of the Charter are not to extend in any way the competences of the European Union as defined in the Treaties. Likewise, the Charter, pursuant to Article 51(2) thereof, does not extend the field of application of EU law beyond the powers of the European Union or establish any new power or task for the European Union, or modify powers and tasks as defined in the Treaties (see Case C‑400/10 PPU McB. EU:C:2010:582, paragraph 51; Case C‑256/11 Dereci and Others EU:C:2011:734, paragraph 71; and Åkerberg Fransson EU:C:2013:105, paragraph 23).
26) It follows from all the foregoing that it has not been established that the Court has jurisdiction to interpret the provisions of the Charter referred to by the referring court.