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Abstract

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter: ‘Charter’)[1] is an act of the primary law of the EU. Whilst its Article 51(1) provides that individuals may invoke fundamental rights vis-à-vis the EU or its Member States, it is silent on the issue of whether fundamental rights can be invoked vis-à-vis other individuals.[2] This discrepancy can be partly clarified by looking into the case law of the Court of Justice. So far, the Court of Justice has recognised such a possibility with regard to the general principle of equality as it is expressed in different forms in the chapter on ‘Equality’ of the Charter and in the directives which implement it. The question this contribution aims to resolve is whether the case law of the Court of Justice opens up such a possibility for other provisions of the Charter as well. The Court of Justice has, however, rejected such a possibility as far as socio-economic fundamental rights from the chapter on ‘Solidarity’ of the Charter are concerned, despite the fact that these provisions are  made  concrete  by  directives  and  the  national  legislation  which implements them. I will argue that this position of the Court of Justice is not consistent with its existing case law on the horizontal effect of the Charter and undermines its full effectiveness.


[1] [2012] OJ C 326/02.

[2] Opinion of Advocate-General Cruz Villalón in Case C-176/12, Association de médiation sociale, delivered on 18 July 2013, para. 31.