Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Case c 212 04 Adeneler 2006 ECR i 6057, it was held that Member States are to interpret national laws to confirm with Directives once the date of transposition had expired and that they are not to impose any measures that would go against the aims set out in directives.
Facts of the Case
- The Greek Court referred a question for a preliminary ruling as to the proper interpretation of the framework agreement on fixed term work.
- The applicants before the national court were professionals who had been employed by the respondent company on successive fixed term contracts.
- When their contracts were not renewed, they brought an application for a declaration that the contracts should be treated as contracts of indefinite duration in accordance with Council Directive 1999/70 which concerned the framework agreement on fixed term work concluded on March 18th, 1999.
- Member States were required to implement the Directive by July 2001.
- Greece applied for a time limit extension of one year but did not begin to implement it until April 2003.
- The national court referred to the European Court of Justice the questions: which date a national court should interpret domestic law in line with a directive which was not directly effective when that directive had been belatedly implemented and whether a domestic law which required a fixed term contract to come to an end could amount to an objective reason justifying a series of fixed term contracts and lastly, whether the Directive precluded national legislation prohibiting public sector fixed term contracts from being converted into contracts of indefinite duration.
Issues in Case c 212 04 Adeneler 2006 ECR i 6057
- Are Member States required to interpret domestic laws to conform with the Directive and if so, at what date?
Held by European Court of Justice
- Held that Member States are required to interpret national laws to not go against Directives. The obligation arises once the date for transposition had expired.
- Member State are not to impose any measures that are contrary to the objective set out in such a directive.
- The domestic provision implemented by Greece was too restrictive and did not achieve the aims of the framework of the agreement as it could be easily circumvented by employers.
- “Clause 5(1)(a) of the framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded on 18 March 1999, which is annexed to Council Directive 1999/70/EC of 28 June 1999 concerning the framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded by ETUC, UNICE and CEEP, is to be interpreted as precluding the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts where the justification advanced for their use is solely that it is provided for by a general provision of statute or secondary legislation of a Member State. On the contrary, the concept of ‘objective reasons’ within the meaning of that clause requires recourse to this particular type of employment relationship, as provided for by national legislation, to be justified by the presence of specific factors relating in particular to the activity in question and the conditions under which it is carried out.
- Clause 5 of the framework agreement on fixed-term work is to be interpreted as precluding a national rule, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, under which only fixed-term employment contracts or relationships that are not separated from one another by a period of time longer than 20 working days are to be regarded as ‘successive’ within the meaning of that clause.
- In circumstances such as those of the main proceedings, the framework agreement on fixed-term work is to be interpreted as meaning that, in so far as domestic law of the Member State concerned does not include, in the sector under consideration, any other effective measure to prevent and, where relevant, punish the misuse of successive fixed-term contracts, that framework agreement precludes the application of national legislation which, in the public sector alone, prohibits absolutely the conversion into an employment contract of indefinite duration of a succession of fixed-term contracts that, in fact, have been intended to cover ‘fixed and permanent needs’ of the employer and must therefore be regarded as constituting an abuse.
- Where a directive is transposed belatedly into a Member State’s domestic law and the relevant provisions of the directive do not have direct effect, the national courts are bound to interpret domestic law so far as possible, once the period for transposition has expired, in the light of the wording and the purpose of the directive concerned with a view to achieving the results sought by the directive, favouring the interpretation of the national rules which is the most consistent with that purpose in order thereby to achieve an outcome compatible with the provisions of the directive.”[1-5]