The Court of Justice’s recent judgment in FNV Kunsten Informatie en Media Case v Staat der Nederland C-413/13 EU:C:2014:2411 is the latest in a line of cases that exclude collective agreements from the application of EU competition law and in particular from Article 101(1) TFEU.
In this case, there was a rather peculiar twist in the facts which lead the Court to adopt a cautious approach. It led the Court to distinguish between “workers”, “self employed” persons who are usually considered to be “undertakings” and “false self employed” who are more like workers.
A trade union representing musicians negotiated a collective agreement with an organisation representing orchestras in the Netherlands. Not only were salaried, employee musicians covered by the agreement, but it was negotiated on behalf of independent, self employed musicians also. Thus the Court was faced with the question whether a provision of a collective labour agreement, which sets minimum fees for self-employed service providers who are members of one of the contracting employees’ organisations and perform for an employer, under a works or service contract, the same activity as that employer’s employed workers, does not fall within the scope of Article 101(1) TFEU.
Here is an interesting judgment coming from the EFTA Court in Case E-26/13 The Icelandic State v Atli Gunnarsson on 27 June 2014.
The case concerned Mr. Gunnarsson and his wife, Icelandic citizens, who resided in Denmark from 24 January 2004 to 3 September 2009. At the time, the couple’s total income consisted of unemployment benefit that Mr Gunnarsson’s wife received in Iceland and of Mr Gunnarsson’s own disability benefit together with benefit payments he received from two Icelandic pension funds. Mr Gunnarsson paid taxes on his income in Iceland, and claimed that he was overcharged in the period from 1 May 2004 to 1 October 2009 because he was prevented from utilising his wife’s personal tax credit while they resided in Denmark. Under the Icelandic tax legislation applicable at the time, the couple had to reside in Iceland for Mr Gunnarsson to be entitled to utilise his wife’s personal tax credit in addition to his own.
The Court of Justice gave its judgment in the preliminary reference Case C-507/12 Jessy Saint Prix v Secretary of State for Work and Pensionson 19 June 2014.
This case concerned a French teacher, resident in the UK and undertaking agency work during pregnancy. She stopped working 11 weeks before the expected date for the birth, and resumed work three months after the birth. She made a claim for Income Support (a form of social security benefit) for this period. The UK Government refused her claim, as under UK law Income Support is not granted to “persons from abroad”. Ms Saint Prix sought to challenge the Government’s decision before the UK courts, arguing that the UK legislation is contrary to EU law, and specifically to its obligations under Directive 2004/38/EC (the Citizenship Directive).