16 nov. 2012

No free access to Slovakia for the Hungarian President, Hungary v Slovakia, C-364/10

On 21/08/2009 President László Sólyom of Hungary intended to enter the Slovakian town of Komarno to take part in the ceremony inaugurating the statute of Saint Stephen, founder and the first king of the Hungarian State (§§ 5-6). However the Slovakian embassy forbade him to be at their territory due to the fact that on 21/08/1968 the armed forces of 5 Warsaw Pact Member States, which included Hungary, had invaded the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (§ 6).

Hungary sued Slovakia for the breach of the fundamental freedom of movement of an EU citizen (President Sólyom) protected by Article 21(1) TFEU and Directive 2004/38 (§ 27). Hungarian Government argued that the freedom applies to all citizens including Heads of State (§ 28), and no EU law expressly previews application of any other international law provisions (§ 29). This fundamental freedom should be interpreted widely (§ 30). President Sólyom did not represent a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of the Slovak society (§ 31).

The Grand Chamber of the ECJ replied that the customary rules of general international law and those of multilateral agreements provide a particular status for a Head of State (§ 46), and it justifies the limitation.

The most interesting part of the judgment is that declaring the supremacy of international law over the EU law (§ 44): the EU law must be interpreted in the light of the relevant rules of international law, since international law is a part of the European Union legal order and is binding on the institutions (Racke, §§ 45-46, Kadi et al., C-402/05 P, § 291).

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