On 22nd of February 2019, the Managing Partner of Vasiliou Law, Yiannos Vasiliou, attended the 3rd annual lecture and dinner organised by the School of Law, University of Central Lancashire, Cyprus. Judge Constantinos Lycourgos of Court of Justice of European Union was invited as a distinguished guest speaker to the annual lecture with the main topic “Limits to national sovereignty and new possibilities for EU citizens: the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union”. Judge Lycourgos introduced the audience to the concepts and principles that allowed the Union and the Court to be more efficient.
Judge Lycourgos voiced several examples of what can be achieved through the wide reach of the Court of Justice’s competence with prevalence of EU law. One of the most notable examples given, was Google Spain and Google (C-131/12), where the Court established a right to be forgotten by search engines, such as Google, meaning the person has the right to be erased from the list of results displayed by search engines, as a result of searching via name basis and links to web pages containing true information of the individual. The Court acted as a central guarantor of the fundamental rights of the EU citizens and individuals who come under the jurisdiction of EU Member State.
Subsequently he elaborated on the broad reach of the Court’s competence in areas, where one who is not very familiar with EU law, would expect cases to be brought before the national courts; such as cases related to nationality and the circumstances under which an individual may be deprived of it. With the aid of examples, Judge Lycourgos explained the multi-facetted role of the Court of Justice which takes control of the active economic actors within the EU, as well as control of the Union’s institutions and Member States. In 2010, Rottmann – Case C-135/08, the Member State had withdrawn the nationality from one of the nationals, who acquired the nationality through naturalisation process, via the use of fraudulent means. Having exposed the individual to the risk of losing the status of the EU citizen, hence the rights and privileges attached to that status, the Court held that this withdrawal could be examined under EU law. It governed the necessity to consider the consequences which the withdrawal decision poses upon the individual in question as well as his family members, and called for a proportionality test. In the Tjebbes – Case C-221/17, the individual concerned acquired the nationality of the EU Member State, Netherlands, by birth. However, according to the national law, an adult loses his/her nationality if the individual in question has the principal residence outside the State for a period of uninterrupted 10 years. The court’s judgment will be delivered on the 12th of March 2019.
Judge Lycourgos concluded with an example of joined cases C-202/18 and C238/18, Rimsevics and European Central Bank of Latvia, where for the first time the Court was called to examine the legality of a measure taken by a national authority. The measure in question is the suspension from office of the Governor of the Central Bank of Latvia, as a result of suspicion of influence peddling. All the presented examples show the competence of the Court of Justice within the EU, Union’s institutions and Member States.
The lecture and the vital insight from Judge Lycourgos has touched upon the concept of existing complications that in some cases arise as a result of applicability of the national sovereignty of Member States and the means of extending the competence of European Court of Justice, resulting in higher efficiency and diligence of the Judicial System. In the light of the above mentioned, it is of great importance to follow on how the competence of the European Court of Justice shall evolve and extend to possibly limit the national sovereignty currently enjoyed by the Member States.