The EU Rights in the Spotlight section for this month features three ECJ rulings affecting the right of national courts to disregard social security certificates obtained fraudulently, the compensation for delays in the case of connecting flights and public access to information concerning ongoing co-decision procedures submitted to trilogues.
National courts may, in cases of fraud, disregard social security certificates issued to workers posted within the EU
On February 6, 2018, the ECJ ruled that National courts may, in cases of fraud, disregard social security certificates issued to workers posted within the EU if the issuing institution fails to carry out a review of the certificate within a reasonable period of time in the light of evidence of fraud.
The judgment is the result of a request for a preliminary ruling referred to the ECJ by the Hof van Cassatie (Court of Cassation, Belgium), which was called upon to rule on legal proceedings started by the Belgian authorities against a Belgian company subcontracting work to some posted workers who fraudulently obtained social security certificates issued by the competent Bulgarian institution.
The Belgian Court asked the ECJ to establish whether the courts of the host Member State may annul or disregard an E 101 certificate when the certificate is fraudulently obtained or relied on.
On the basis of the principle of sincere cooperation, the Court affirmed that any institution of a Member State must carry out a diligent examination of the application of its own social security system and should review or withdraw a social security certificate when the host Member State expresses doubts as to the grounds on which the certificate is issued. If the institution issuing the certificate fails to do so within a reasonable period of time, the court of the host Member State may disregard the certificate.
An airline which operated only the first leg of a connecting flight in one Member State can be sued before the courts of the final destination in another Member State for compensation for delays
On 7 March, 2018, the ECJ stated that an airline operating on the first leg of a connecting flight can be sued for delays before the Courts of the final destination of the journey if the delays are a consequence of an irregularity during the first leg of the flight.
The judgment is the result of a request for a preliminary ruling submitted to the ECJ by the Amtsgericht Düsseldorf (District Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) and the Bundesgerichtshof
(Federal Court of Justice, Germany), which were called upon to rule on a case of compensation for delay submitted by passengers of a connection flight from Spain to Germany against the Spanish airline Air Nostrum, which operated the first leg of the flight.
The two German Courts asked the ECJ to clarify whether they have jurisdiction to hear the case under the provisions of the Brussels I Regulation, according to which a defendant domiciled in another Member State may be sued in the courts of the place where the services were, or should have been, provided.
According to the ECJ, the German courts have jurisdiction to rule on the case because, in instances of a connecting flight operated by two different air carriers, the ‘place of performance’ for the purposes of the Brussels I Regulation must be considered the place of arrival of the second leg and the claim submitted by the air passengers is based on an irregularity taking place on the first of those flights.
The European Parliament must in principle grant access, on specific request, to documents relating to ongoing trilogues
On March 22, 2018, the ECJ ruled that documents relating to ongoing trilogues must in principle be made available to the public by the European Parliament on specific request.
The judgment follows the action brought before the General Court by Mr De Capitani against the refusal of the Parliament to grant access to information concerning ongoing co-decision procedures submitted to trilogues on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001.
The General Court noted that trilogues represent an integral part of the legislative procedure and, on the basis of the principles of publicity and transparency that apply to the EU legislative process, it affirmed that public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents must be possible on specific request, unless the institution concerned proves that it is reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical that full access to the documents at issue is likely to undermine, specifically and actually, its decision-making process.
The General Court decided, therefore, to annul the decision of the Parliament denying access to information about on-going trilogues by stating that none of the grounds relied on demonstrated that full access to the documents at issue would have undermined the decision-making process.