The Impact of EU Fundamental Rights on Private Relationships: Direct or Indirect Effect?
European Review of Private Law (ERPL), Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 29-46, 2015
19 Pages Posted: 27 May 2015
Traditionally, the primary goal of fundamental rights has been to limit the power of the state over individuals. However, it is undisputed in most legal orders today that fundamental rights also have an impact on the relationship between private parties. The present paper looks at how the fundamental rights guaranteed at the level of EU law may affect private law relationships. In particular, the paper analyzes whether EU fundamental rights have direct or indirect effect in private relations, that is to say, whether they are, as such, binding on private parties or whether they impose obligations on individuals only through the medium of an implementing act. It will be shown that, contrary to what has been written by a number of authors, this question actually matters in practice, especially in the context of the social rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Special attention is devoted to the more recent case law of the CJEU, which in the view of some commentators supports the notion of direct horizontal effect.
Note: This article is published in this Research Paper Series with the permission of the rights owner, Kluwer Law International.
Keywords: Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, horizontal application of fundamental rights, European Convention on Human Rights, general principles of EU law, social rights, European Court of Justice
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