On 14 March 2017, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice (CJEU) handed down two landmark judgments on the Islamic headscarf at work. The twin decisions, Achbita and Bougnaoui, were eagerly awaited, not only because of the importance and delicacy of the legal issues the cases raised, but also because the Advocates General had reached different conclusions on those issues in their Opinions. Continue reading >>
Is the pursuit of religious neutrality an acceptable aim for public and private organisations alike, on the basis of which they may prohibit their employees from wearing religious signs or apparel whilst at work? In two pending cases before the CJEU, the Advocates General seem to arrive at opposite conclusions on this point. To solve this puzzle, I think it is crucial to see that there are two radically different reasons why a private-sector company may wish to adopt an identity of religious neutrality, which reflect two distinct types of interest a company may have in religious neutrality: a business interest and an interest as a member of society. Continue reading >>
On 14 January 2015, Advocate General Cruz Villalón delivered his Opinion in the Gauweiler case. The Opinion had been eagerly awaited, because it concerns the first reference ever for a preliminary ruling made by the German Constitutional Court (GCC), after decades of refusal to engage into direct dialogue with the ECJ. Nevertheless, it would be misguided to portray the GCC’s request for a preliminary ruling as a major turning point in its case law, heralding a new, gentler era in its relationship with the ECJ. For several reasons, which have been discussed extensively elsewhere, it seems that the preliminary reference procedure was not used for purposes of ‘judicial cooperation’ or ‘judicial dialogue’. One of those reasons is that the GCC claims for itself the last word on the legality of the impugned EU act. Even if the ECJ were to conclude that the Union had remained within the limits of its powers as laid down in the Treaties and, thus, that its action was valid, the GCC reserves to itself the right to review the action in light of Germany’s constitutional identity.
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