Balancing Fundamental Rights with Economic Freedoms According to the European Court of Justice

24 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013

See all articles by Sybe A. de Vries

Sybe A. de Vries

Utrecht University; Utrecht University - School of Law

Date Written: January 31, 2013


The development of fundamental rights within the EU legal order has come to a climax through the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009. Article 6 of the EU Treaty now recognizes the binding force of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, embraces the intention to accede to the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and codifies the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) case law that fundamental rights shall constitute general principles of Union law. The question is how these changes made by the Lisbon Treaty, which mark a new stage in the shaping of the EU's commitment to the protection of fundamental rights, inform the relationship between fundamental rights and the classic Treaty economic freedoms, which have been vital in building Europe's 'economic constitution'. This contribution addresses the conflict that may arise between the Treaty economic freedoms and fundamental rights and assesses how the ECJ should balance these conflicting interests, considering the changed EU legal framework. In this paper the approach of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), having to decide in cases where fundamental rights conflict with each other, will also be briefly touched upon and compared with the Court of Justice's approach.

Keywords: economic freedoms, fundamental rights, balancing, proportionality, EU law, EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

Suggested Citation

de Vries, Sybe A., Balancing Fundamental Rights with Economic Freedoms According to the European Court of Justice (January 31, 2013). Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 169-192, January 2013. Available at SSRN:

Sybe A. De Vries (Contact Author)

Utrecht University ( email )

Vredenburg 138
Utrecht, 3511 BG

Utrecht University - School of Law

3508 TC Utrecht

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