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The EU’s highest court has ruled that obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) was asked to consider the case of a male childcare in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat.

The court said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability.

The ruling is binding across the EU.

Judges said that obesity in itself was not a disability – but if a person had a long term impairment because of their obesity, then they would be protected by disability legislation.


The case centers around childcare Karsten Kaltoft who weighs about 320 lbs.Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances

He brought a discrimination case against his employers of 15 years, Billund local authority, after he was sacked.

The authority said a fall in the number of children meant Karsten Kaltoft was no longer required.

Howerver, Karsten Kaltoft said he was dismissed because he was overweight.

The Danish courts asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to clarify whether obesity was a disability.

The ECJ ruled: “The Court finds that if, under given circumstances, the obesity of the worker entails a limitation which results in particular from physical, mental or psychological impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers, and the limitation is a long-term one, such obesity can fall within the concept of ‘disability’ within the meaning of the directive.”

Rulings from the ECJ are binding for all EU member nations.

The courts in Denmark will now have to assess Karsten Kaltoft’s weight to see if his case can be classed as a disability.

Unemployed EU citizens who go to another member state to claim benefits may be barred from some benefits, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The ruling on so-called “benefit tourism”, relating to a case in Germany, could set an important legal precedent for the rest of the EU.

Tuesday’s ruling relates to a case involving a Romanian woman and her son living in Germany who had been denied access to a non-contributory subsistence allowance from the German social security system.

The court decided the German authorities were right to refuse her request, and there was no discrimination involved in denying her access to a non-contributory benefit which is available to German citizens.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that unemployed EU citizens who go to another member state to claim benefits may be barred from some benefits

The European Court of Justice has ruled that unemployed EU citizens who go to another member state to claim benefits may be barred from some benefits

It said the defendant did not have sufficient financial resources to claim residency in Germany after the initial three months and therefore could not claim that the rules excluding her from certain benefits was discriminatory.

More broadly, it said the right of EU citizens to live and work in other member states – the principle of freedom of movement – did not stop states passing legislation of their own excluding migrants from some non-contributory benefits available to their own citizens.

National Parliaments have the “competence to define the extent of the social cover” offered in the way of certain non-contributory benefits, it stated.

“The directive thus seeks to prevent economically inactive European Union citizens from using the host member state’s welfare system to fund their means of subsistence,” the European Court of Justice said in a statement.

“A member state must therefore have the possibility of refusing to grant social benefits to economically inactive European Union citizens who exercise their right to freedom of movement solely in order to obtain another member state’s social assistance.”

The ruling only applies to non-contributory benefits, benefits where the claimant does not make a contribution through the tax system.

The European Commission has said it supports action by member states to tackle abuse of the benefits system by migrants but that it will not countenance restrictions on the principle of freedom of movement and labor across Europe.

The European Court of Justice has rejected a MasterCard appeal and upheld the ruling that its fees were anti-competitive.

The court said regulators were right to condemn the cost of its interchange fees – the fees retailers pay banks to process card payments – and has rejected an appeal.

MasterCard was investigated last year for the amount it charged for card transactions in Europe.

The company’s president said the ruling was “disappointing”.

The European Court of Justice has rejected a MasterCard appeal and upheld the ruling that its fees were anti-competitive

The European Court of Justice has rejected a MasterCard appeal and upheld the ruling that its fees were anti-competitive (photo Reuters)

Javier Perez, president of MasterCard Europe said despite that, the ruling would have “little or no impact on how MasterCard operates”.

He said: “We will continue to comply with the decision as we have been doing for a number of years. This means we would maintain our European… cross-border consumer interchange fees at a weighted average of 0.2% for debit and 0.3% for credit.”

MasterCard is the second-largest credit and debit card company after Visa.

The decision ends MasterCard’s seven-year battle against a decision made by the EU’s competition watchdog.

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared “invalid” the EU law requiring telecoms firms to store citizens’ communications data for up to two years.

The EU Data Retention Directive was adopted in 2006.

The EU’s top court says the directive violates two basic rights – respect for private life and protection of personal data.

The EU-wide ruling was prompted by Austrian and Irish complaints.

The 28-nation EU is currently drafting a new data protection law.

The European Court of Justice has declared invalid the EU Data Retention Directive

The European Court of Justice has declared invalid the EU Data Retention Directive (photo AP)

The ECJ ruling says the 2006 directive allows storage of data on a person’s identity, the time of that person’s communication, the place from which the communication took place and the frequency of that person’s communications.

“By requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data,” the court in Luxembourg ruled.

Austrian and Irish courts had asked the ECJ to decide whether the directive complied with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The judges acknowledged that data retention was justified in the fight against serious crime and to safeguard public security. But they argued that the directive was disproportionate.

They also said use of the data without an individual’s knowledge “is likely to generate in the persons concerned a feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance”.

The directive does not provide sufficient safeguards against possible abuse of personal data, the judges said.

And there was insufficient clarity concerning the basis for holding data for a minimum of six months or the maximum of two years, they argued.

The European Commission says it too is assessing the ruling. It said there had to be a proper balance between security and fundamental rights.