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EU Rights in the Spotlight – June

10 June 2016

In April and June 2016 the European Court of Justice delivered two opinions with implications for the freedom of movement area.

The first is opinion by Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe concerning a dispute relating to unpaid invoices between a company established in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium and a company established in Italy. The Italian company refused to pay a number of invoices drawn up by the Flemish company on the grounds that they were drafted in the Italian language, whereas according to the Belgian language regime they should have been drafted exclusively in Dutch. In his opinion, the Advocate General argues that the language regime of Flanders applicable to cross-border invoices infringes EU Law, and in particular the rules on free movement of goods, as it goes beyond what is strictly necessary to promote the use of Dutch.

The second one concerns an opinion by Advocate General Wathelet on the social advantages that may be enjoyed by a child of a stepparent with the status of migrant worker in another EU Member State. According to EU Regulation No 492/2011, a worker from one Member State must, in any other Member State in which he works, enjoy the same social and tax advantages as national workers. For the purposes of an EU citizenship, children are defined by Directive 2004/384 as ‘the direct descendants who are under the age of 21 or are dependants and those of the spouse or partner’. The Advocate General therefore contends that a child who has no legal connection to the migrant worker but corresponds to the definition of ‘family member’ within the meaning of Directive 2004/38 must be regarded as the child of that worker, and can thus enjoy the social advantages provided for by the Regulation.