Economic and labor rights in the European Union after Lisbon: an institutional approach

AuthorKonstantinos Margaritis
PositionNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Economic and labor rights in the European Union after Lisbon:
an institutional approach
PhD Student Konstantinos MARGARITIS
Economic and labor rights belong to the cor e of business action, since they
constitute the in stitutional framework for a ctors involved in business, employers a nd
workers. Since the European integration is progr essing, we may speak of a Euro pean
environment for business, a common market in Eur opean lega l terms, which became the
main a im for the Communities since 1957. At the end of 2009, with the enforcement of the
Lisbon Trea ty amendments, importa nt cha nges were br ought in the fundamental rights
protection in EU, ma inly with the enactment of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. For
a better understa nding of the framework of eco nomic a nd labor rights in EU, the
traditiona l economic freedoms and provisions of the Char ter will be examined in this paper
in order to draw conclusions on the level of protection of such rig hts and the modifications
that the Lisbon Trea ty have br ought in EU legal order with reference to economic and
labor r ights.
Keywords: economic freedoms, labor rights, Lisbon Trea ty, opt-out protocol.
JEL Classification: K31, K33
I. Introduction
Beyond dispute, the establishment of the European Economic Community
(EEC) in 1957 constituted an innovative procedure; based to a large extent on
principles of economic integration and development though. The Treaty of Rome
can be understood as the institutional framework for economical and monetary
union with the establishment of a common market to be the far reaching aim. This
can be easily proved by the grammatical structure of article 2 EEC Treaty, where
the economic growth and stability as well as the rise of living standards were
demonstrated as main targets of the Community.
In that sense, every progress towards European integration could be seen
growing of the common market in Europe. The traditional economic freedoms
guaranteed since the establishment of the EEC assisted in that target by setting the
framework for liberalization of the basic economic activities which refer to goods,
workers, services and capital. Beyond this perspective, the growing activities of the
Union triggered the dialogue for the creation of a catalogue of rights within the EU
legal order, interconnected to the Union’s main characteristics. Under this
approach, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was created in 2000; rights of
economic nature and labor rights related to enterprises are also included therein.
After the amendments forwarded with the Treaty of Lisbon, the Charter gained
1 Konstantinos Margaritis - National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece,
Juridical Tribune Volume 3, Issue 2, December 2013
legal value of EU primary law; according to article 6, par. 1 Treaty on European
Union (TEU), the Charter shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
The aim of this paper is to critically present the current situation with
reference to economic and labor rights in the EU after the Lisbon Treaty. This
presentation will be based on two pillars: the economic freedoms, predominately
found in the Treaties and the rights included in the EU Charter of Fundamental
Rights. The analysis contributes to the better understanding of the complete
institutional framework of economic and labor rights protection in EU.
II. The traditional economic freedoms
Since the establishment of the EEC the four traditional economic freedoms
have been the main tool for achieving the aim of common market in Europe.
Therefore their presence on the Treaties after the Lisbon amendment is not a
surprise, but most a confirmation of the Union’s main function. Although this
approach implies a less favorable environment for fundamental rights, a general
framework of fundamental rights protection, basically economic rights, could be
observed within the concept of Community freedoms, which emanated from them
and as an inextricable part, completed their implementation.
Title II of Part 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
(TFEU) refers to the free movement of goods. It is explicitly stated the
establishment of a custom union and the prohibition between Member States of
customs duties on imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect
as well as the adoption of a common customs tariff in their relations with third
countries. From the very beginning, the concept of “goods” was delineated in
various cases which ruled that everything valuated in money that can be object of
commercial transactions could falls into the concept of “goods”.3
In addition, custom duties of fiscal nature are also prohibited. This implies
every tax burden in any way related to the free movement of goods. This burden
does not have to be necessarily characterized directly as “charge” but also burdens
that substantially have equivalent effect to charges are not in compliance with
Union law. The Court of Justice constantly prohibited every form of tax charges
related to issues of free movement of goods in Community member states.4 Finally,
under articles 34 and 35 TFEU, all quantitative restrictions on imports and exports
are generally prohibited between member states, unless there is a reason of public
morality, public policy or public security, protection of health and life of humans,
animals or plants, protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or
archaeological value or protection of industrial and commercial property.
2 See also on the issue Konstantinos Margaritis, Funda mental Rights in the EEC Trea ty a nd within
Community Freedoms, “CES Working Papers”, Iasi, vol. V, 2ί13, pp. 51-65.
3 ECJ C-7/68 Commission vs. Italy [1968] ECR 423, par. 2.
4 ECJ C-24/68 Commission vs. Italy [1969] ECR 193, ECJ joint cases C-2/69 and C-3/69
Diamantarbeiders [1969] ECR 211, ECJ C-87/75 Conceria Daniele Bresciani vs. Amministrazione
Italiana delle Finanze [1976] ECR 129.

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