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Historical Archives of the European Union

Court of Justice procedural files for 1986 and 1987 released to the HAEU

Original procedure records from the European Court of Justice for the years 1986 and 1987 are now accessible in the Historical Archives of the European Union’s database. The files are available for consultation in digital format under specific access conditions.

20 January 2023 | Research


Archivists at the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) have completed the inventory for 753 procedural files relating to European Court of Justice (CJEU) case law for 1986 and 1987.

The Court issued several notable decisions in those years. Among these were judgments pertinent to direct effect, the free movement of persons, and more.

Direct effect

In 1986, the Court considered cases pertaining to the direct effect of Community  law, a fundamental principle of EU law. Direct effect permits individuals to ‘directly invoke EU law before national and European courts, independently of whether the national law test exists’.

In Zaera 126/86, Spain’s Tribunal Central De Trabajo asked the Court for a preliminary ruling on questions concerning the interpretation of Articles 2, 117 and 118 of the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (EEC).  These articles had been invoked in a legal challenge to a rule set by Spain’s national social security system concerning the overlapping of pension payments with emoluments.  

In its ruling, the Court stated that neither ‘the general guidelines of social policy defined by each member state nor specific measures such as that referred to by the national court can be subject to review by the Court to determine whether they are compatible with the social objectives laid down in Article 117 of the Treaty’. The Court ruled that ‘neither Article 2 nor Articles 117 and 118 of the EEC Treaty prevent the introduction by national legislation of a rule which prohibits the overlapping of a retirement pension with the emoluments due to a public servant and reduces the income of the persons concerned’.

In Kolpinghuis Nijmegen 80/86, the Court was asked to rule on questions concerning a national authority’s legal efforts to use a European directive against an individual, despite that country not having yet implemented the directive.

The Court ruled that ‘a national authority may not rely, as against an individual, upon a provision of a directive whose necessary implementation in national law has not yet taken place’. It also ruled that ‘in applying its national legislation, a court of a member state is required to interpret that legislation in the light of the wording and the purpose of the directive in order to achieve the result referred to in the third paragraph of article 189 of the treaty, but,’ –in the light of the general principles of law which form part of Community law and in particular the principles of legal certainty and non-retroactivity – ‘a directive cannot, of itself and independently of a law adopted for its implementation, have the effect of determining or aggravating the liability in criminal law of persons who act in contravention of the provisions of that directive’.

The free movement of persons

Two notable cases in 1987 also concerned the free movement of persons, specifically with regard to workers. The first examined a question regarding the concept ‘worker’, while the second dealt with the rights and entitlements of workers.

In Bettray 344/87, the Judicial Division of the Dutch Council of State referred a question to the Court on whether an individual engaged in a rehabilitation programme is to be considered a ‘worker’ as defined in Article 48 of the EEC Treaty. At the heart of the inquiry were proceedings initiated by a German national (Bettray) who had been denied a residence permit in the Netherlands, despite his participation in a social employment scheme  organised by a public rehabilitation programme.

In its ruling, the Court stated that ‘Article 48(1 ) of the EEC Treaty must be interpreted as meaning that a national of a Member State employed in another Member State under a scheme such as that established under the Social Employment Law, in which the activities carried out are merely a means of rehabilitation or reintegration, cannot on that basis alone be regarded as a worker for the purposes of Community law’.

Groener C-379-87 asked the Court for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Article 48(3) of the EEC Treaty and Article 3 of Regulation (EEC) no. 1612/68 of the Council of 15 October 1968 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community. The case specifically dealt with the ‘requirement of linguistic knowledge’ found in Art. 3(1) of the Council Regulation No 1612/68.  Anita Groener, a national of the Netherlands, had been refused a permanent, full-time post as an art teacher in Ireland after having failed a required test of her knowledge of the Irish language.

The Court ruled that ‘A permanent full-time post of lecturer in public vocational education institutions is a post of such a nature as to justify the requirement of linguistic knowledge, within the meaning of the last subparagraph of Article 3(1 ) of Regulation No 1612/68 of the Council, provided that the linguistic requirement in question is imposed as part of a policy for the promotion of the national language which is, at the same time, the first official language and provided that that requirement is applied in a proportionate and non-discriminatory manner.’

The ECJ fonds at the HAEU

Researchers may consult the archival records of the European Court of Justice under special access conditions. The inventory of holdings for the CJEU is available here.

Last update: 20 January 2023

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