The Constitutional Court turns to the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the freedom of establishment of private institutions of higher education and suspends legal proceedings in a case

17.07.2020.

On 11 June 2019, the Constitutional Court delivered the judgement in case No. 2019-12-01 “On Compliance of the Third Sentence of Section 5 (1), Section 56 (3) and Para 49 of the Transitional Provisions of the Law “On Institutions of Higher Education” with Article 1, Article 105 and Article 112 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”. In this judgement, the Court decided to divide the case and in the part On Compliance of the Third Sentence of Section 5 (1), Section 56 (3) and Para 49 of the Transitional Provisions of the Law “On Institutions of Higher Education” with Article 1 and Article 105 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia” create a new case No. 2020-33-01, to resume examination on its merits and to consider the need to turn to the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereafter – CJEU) to request a preliminary ruling.

On 14 July 2020, the Constitutional Court adopted the decision in the present case on referring a question to CJEU for a preliminary ruling.

The Constitutional Court found that Article 105 of the Satversme should be specified in interconnection with the right to establishment, included in Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Therefore, in the present case, the content of Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union needs to be clarified.

The first part of Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that CJEU has jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings concerning the interpretation of the Treaties, the validity and interpretation of acts of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the Union. Pursuant to the second and third part of this Article, the Constitutional Court has the right and, in some cases, the obligation, to turn to CJEU.

In the present case, the Constitutional Court has identified the need to refer the following questions to CJEU for a preliminary ruling regarding the interpretation of the norms of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:

  1. Does such legal regulation, which is contested in the basic case, restrict the right to establishment, defined in Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union or, alternatively, the freedom to provide services, envisaged in Article 56, as well as the freedom to conduct business, which is protected by Article 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?
  2. What considerations should be taken into account in examining the justifiability, compliance of such legal regulation and its proportionality to its legitimate aim – protection of the official language as the manifestation of the national identity?

The Constitutional Court decided to suspend legal proceedings in the case until the ruling by CJEU enters into force.

The text of the decision in Latvian is available on the homepage of the Constitutional Court:=

http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/14.07.2020._V%C4%93r%C5%A1an%C4%81s-CJEU_liet%C4%81_2020-33-01.pdf#search