Deciding body (English)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
- Administrative Court
- Civil Court
Type of jurisdiction
Further areas addressed
- Privacy and data protection
- Private and family life
Outcome of the decision
This case has dealt with a European Parliament Bureau decision requiring a valid COVID-19 certificate to access the Parliament’s buildings. Several members of Parliament have challenged this decision questioning its legal basis, necessity, and proportionality with regard to several individual rights, among which data protection, bodily integrity and non-discrimination as well as the principle of free and independent mandate. The Court has found that the decision is a sufficient legal basis due to the Parliament’s power of internal organization. It has further observed how it pursues the legitimate aim of protecting public health while ensuring the functioning of the EU institutions; it is temporary; it has been based upon scientific advice and according to the precautionary principle; and for all the above it is both necessary and proportionate. The Court has recognized that it will cause practical inconveniences however, these are acceptable when compared with protecting other people’s health. Consequently, the Court has rejected the claim.
Facts of the case
On October 27, 2021, following an increasing number of COVID-19 infections, the European Parliament Bureau adopted a decision requiring anyone wishing to enter Parliament’s building starting January 31, 2022, to present a valid COVID-19 certificate proving to having been vaccinated, tested negative, or recovered from the COVID-19. The declared objectives of the measure have been to ensure the return to regular procedures while also protecting the life and health of those in the buildings. The Applicants, who are all members of Parliament, have asked the Court for the annulment of the decision arguing that it lacks legal basis and it violates their rights to data protection, privacy, bodily integrity, equality, non-discrimination, liberty and security, and is a threat to their free and independent mandate as members of Parliament.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court has affirmed that the decision’s legal basis is in the Parliament’s power of internal organization, for the purpose of ensuring its normal functioning. This satisfies the requirement of prescribing by law any processing of medical personal data. Regarding the principle of freedom and independence of mandate, the Court has accepted that the measure does affect the exercise of the member’s functions. However, this principle is not absolute. The legitimate aim of ensuring the continuity of the Parliament’s activities while protecting the health of those in its building, the easy availability of both vaccines and tests, and its temporary nature make this limitation both reasonable and proportionate. As for the prohibition to Member States to impose restrictive measures on the freedom of movement of the members of Parliament, privileges and immunities are given to protect the functioning of the EU institutions, and the challenged decision is therefore not in contrast to them. Regarding the processing of personal data, no national legal framework is required, since once again the legal basis is found in the decision itself.
Furthermore, the processing pursues the legitimate aim of protecting public health. As the Parliament has provided the interested persons with all information pertaining to the processing of the data, and those scanning the certificates are bound to confidentiality. The Court has also excluded a violation of transparency. It has further excluded that the decision violates the Applicant’s rights to equality, non-discrimination, integrity of the person, liberty, or security, by underlining that the challenged measure does not privilege any of the three means through which the certificate is obtained (e.g., vaccination) and pursues the legitimate aim of protecting public health. The Court has then affirmed that the decision has been necessary having regard to the precautionary principle. The increasing number of transmissions and the augmented risk of returning to work in presence justified the restrictive measure chosen. It has also affirmed it is appropriate to reach the intended aim, as the current state of scientific data lead to believe that the three options through which the certificate is obtained reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. For the same reason and considering its temporary effect within the emergency in which it is to be applied, the Court has concluded that it is also proportionate. While it causes some degree of practical inconvenience, this is outweighed by the protection of other people’s health.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court has rejected all four grounds of challenge, affirming that the decision does not violate the Applicant’s rights to data protection, privacy, bodily integrity, equality, non-discrimination, liberty and security, nor does it breach the principle of free and independent mandate of the members of Parliament, or the privileges and immunities given to them. While it does provide some inconveniences, these are necessary and proportionate in view of the legitimate aim of protecting human health.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Political rights
- Right to bodily integrity
- Right to data protection
- Right to privacy
- Right to private and family life
- Right to equality, non-discrimination, liberty, security
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to integrity of the person, Art. 3, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
- Right to liberty and security, Art. 6, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
- Right to equality before the law, Art. 20, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
- Right to non-discrimination, Art. 21, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
- Health v. data protection
- Health v. right to privacy (private and family life)
- Health v. political rights
General principle applied
- State of emergency or necessity
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
The Court has noted how the precautionary principle is a general principle of EU law, allowing to enforce protective measures such as this without having to wait for the seriousness of a risk to be fully proven. It has excluded the violation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination by noting how none of the three means through which the certificate can be obtained is favored over the others. Considering the scientific data available on the efficacy of these three means to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as the increasing number of cases and the temporary nature of the measure in the emergency context of the pandemic, the Court has also concluded it is reasonable and proportional.