Association Belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL and Others v Conseil des ministres.

JurisdictionEuropean Union
CourtCourt of Justice (European Union)
Writing for the CourtJuhász
ECLIECLI:EU:C:2011:100
Procedure TypeReference for a preliminary ruling
Date01 March 2011
Celex Number62009CJ0236
Docket NumberC-236/09

Case C-236/09

Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL and Others

v

Conseil des ministres

(Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Cour constitutionnelle)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling – Fundamental rights – Combating discrimination – Equal treatment for men and women – Access to and supply of goods and services – Insurance premiums and benefits – Actuarial factors – Sex as a factor in the assessment of insurance risks – Private life assurance contracts – Directive 2004/113/EC – Article 5(2) – Derogation not subject to any temporal limitation – Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Articles 21 and 23 – Invalidity)

Summary of the Judgment

European Union law – Principles – Equal treatment – Equal treatment for men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services – Directive 2004/113 – Actuarial factors

(Council Directive 2004/113, Art. 5(2))

Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/113 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services is invalid with effect from 21 December 2012.

It is not disputed that the purpose of Directive 2004/113 in the insurance services sector is, as is reflected in Article 5(1) of that directive, the application of unisex rules on premiums and benefits. Recital 18 in the preamble to Directive 2004/113 expressly states that, in order to guarantee equal treatment between men and women, the use of sex as an actuarial factor must not result in differences in premiums and benefits for insured individuals. Recital 19 in the preamble to that directive describes the option granted to Member States not to apply the rule of unisex premiums and benefits as an option to permit ‘exemptions’. Accordingly, Directive 2004/113 is based on the premiss that, for the purposes of applying the principle of equal treatment for men and women, enshrined in Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter, the respective situations of men and women with regard to insurance premiums and benefits contracted by them are comparable.

Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/113, which enables the Member States in question to maintain without temporal limitation an exemption from the rule of unisex premiums and benefits, works against the achievement of the objective of equal treatment between men and women, which is the purpose of the directive, and is incompatible with Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. That provision must therefore be considered to be invalid upon the expiry of an appropriate transitional period.

(see paras 30, 32-34, operative part)







JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Grand Chamber)

1 March 2011 (*)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling – Fundamental rights – Combating discrimination – Equal treatment for men and women – Access to and supply of goods and services – Insurance premiums and benefits – Actuarial factors – Sex as a factor in the assessment of insurance risks – Private life assurance contracts – Directive 2004/113/EC – Article 5(2) – Derogation not subject to any temporal limitation – Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Articles 21 and 23 – Invalidity)

In Case C‑236/09,

REFERENCE for a preliminary ruling under Article 234 EC from the Cour constitutionnelle (Belgium), made by decision of 18 June 2009, received at the Court on 29 June 2009, in the proceedings

Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL,

Yann van Vugt,

Charles Basselier

v

Conseil des ministres,

THE COURT (Grand Chamber),

composed of V. Skouris, President, A. Tizzano, J.N. Cunha Rodrigues, K. Lenaerts, J.-C. Bonichot and A. Arabadjiev, Presidents of Chambers, E. Juhász (Rapporteur), G. Arestis, A. Borg Barthet, M. Ilešič, L. Bay Larsen, P. Lindh and T. von Danwitz, Judges,

Advocate General: J. Kokott,

Registrar: R. Şereş, Administrator,

having regard to the written procedure and further to the hearing on 1 June 2010,

after considering the observations submitted on behalf of:

– Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL, Mr van Vugt and Mr Basselier, by F. Krenc, avocat,

– the Conseil des ministres, by P. Slegers, avocat,

– the Belgian Government, by L. Van den Broeck, acting as Agent, and P. Slegers, avocat,

– Ireland, by D. O’Hagan, acting as Agent, and B. Murray, BL,

– the French Government, by G. de Bergues and A. Czubinski, acting as Agents,

– the Lithuanian Government, by R. Mackevičienė, acting as Agent,

– the Finnish Government, by J. Heliskoski, acting as Agent,

– the United Kingdom Government, by I. Rao, acting as Agent, and D. Beard, Barrister,

– the Council of the European Union, by M. Veiga, F. Florindo Gijón and I. Šulce, acting as Agents,

– the European Commission, by M. Van Hoof and M. van Beek, acting as Agents,

after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 30 September 2010,

gives the following

Judgment

1 This reference for a preliminary ruling concerns the validity of Article 5(2) of Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (OJ 2004 L 373, p. 37).

2 The reference has been made in proceedings brought by the Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL, Mr van Vugt and Mr Basselier against the Conseil des ministres (Council of Ministers) of the Kingdom of Belgium for annulment of the Law of 21 December 2007 which amended, as regards the treatment of gender in insurance matters, the Law of 10 May 2007 combating discrimination between men and women (Moniteur Belge of 31 December 2007, p. 66175; ‘the Law of 21 December 2007’).

Legal context

European Union (‘EU’) law

3 Directive 2004/113 was adopted on the basis of Article 13(1) EC. Recitals 1, 4, 5, 12, 15, 18 and 19 in the preamble to that directive are worded as follows:

‘(1) In accordance with Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, the Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States, and respects fundamental rights as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [signed at Rome on 4 November 1950] and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States as general principles of Community law.

(4) Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union. Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (“the Charter”) prohibit any discrimination on grounds of sex and require equality between men and women to be ensured in all areas.

(5) Article 2 of the Treaty establishing the European Community provides that promoting such equality is one of the Community’s essential tasks. Similarly, Article 3(2) of the Treaty requires the Community to aim to eliminate inequalities and to promote equality between men and women in all its activities.

(12) To prevent discrimination based on sex, this Directive should apply to both direct discrimination and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs only when one person is treated less favourably, on grounds of sex, than another person in a comparable situation. Accordingly, for example, differences between men and women in the provision of healthcare services, which result from the physical differences between men and women, do not relate to comparable situations and therefore, do not constitute discrimination.

(15) There are already a number of existing legal instruments for the implementation of the principle of equal treatment between men and women in matters of employment and occupation. Therefore, this Directive should not apply in this field. The same reasoning applies to matters of self-employment insofar as they are covered by existing legal instruments. The Directive should apply only to insurance and pensions which are private, voluntary and separate from the employment relationship.

(18) The use of actuarial factors related to sex is widespread in the provision of insurance and other related financial services. In order to ensure equal treatment between men and women, the use of sex as an actuarial factor should not result in differences in individuals’ premiums and benefits. To avoid a sudden readjustment of the market, the implementation of this rule should apply only to new contracts concluded after the date of transposition of this Directive.

(19) Certain categories of risks may vary between the sexes. In some cases, sex is one but not necessarily the only determining factor in the assessment of risks insured. For contracts insuring those types of risks, Member States may decide to permit exemptions from the rule of unisex premiums and benefits, as long as they can ensure that underlying actuarial and statistical data on which the calculations are based, are reliable, regularly up-dated and available to the public. Exemptions are allowed only where national legislation has not already applied the unisex rule. Five years after transposition of this Directive, Member States should re-examine the justification for these exemptions, taking into account the most recent actuarial and statistical data and a report by the Commission three years after the date of transposition of this Directive.’

4 The purpose of Directive 2004/113 is defined as follows in Article 1 of that directive:

‘The purpose of this Directive is to lay down a framework for combating discrimination based on sex in access to and supply of goods and services, with a view to putting into effect in the Member States the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
41 practice notes
  • Opinion of Advocate General Medina delivered on 24 February 2022.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 24 February 2022
    ...y 57 y jurisprudencia citada. Véanse también las sentencias de 1 de marzo de 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats y otros (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100), apartado 29; de 26 de junio de 2018, MB (Cambio de sexo y pensión de jubilación) (C‑451/16, EU:C:2018:492), apartado 42, y de......
  • Opinion of Advocate General Tanchev delivered on 18 March 2021.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 18 March 2021
    ...(C‑193/17, EU:C:2019:43). 37 Voir, classiquement, arrêt du 1er mars 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats e.a. (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100). 38 Voir, récemment, par exemple, arrêt du 3 février 2021, Fussl Modestraße Mayr (C‑555/19, EU:C:2021:89, point 95). En ce qui concerne le......
  • Conclusiones del Abogado General Sr. P. Pikamäe, presentadas el 29 de julio de 2019.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 29 July 2019
    ...disposición estatutaria. 23 Véase la sentencia de 1 de marzo de 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats y otros (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100), apartado 24 Véanse las sentencias de 21 de octubre de 2009, Ramaekers-Jørgensen/Comisión (F‑74/08, EU:F:2009:142), apartado 53, y de 1 de ......
  • Opinion of Advocate General Medina delivered on 3 February 2022.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 3 February 2022
    ...70 e giurisprudenza ivi citata). 111 V., in particolare, sentenza del 1º marzo 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats e a. (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100, punto 29). 112 V., per analogia, sentenza del 6 ottobre 2021, Conacee (C‑598/19, EU:C:2021:810, punto 38). 113 La stessa conven......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Opinion of Advocate General Medina delivered on 24 February 2022.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 24 February 2022
    ...y 57 y jurisprudencia citada. Véanse también las sentencias de 1 de marzo de 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats y otros (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100), apartado 29; de 26 de junio de 2018, MB (Cambio de sexo y pensión de jubilación) (C‑451/16, EU:C:2018:492), apartado 42, y de......
  • Opinion of Advocate General Tanchev delivered on 18 March 2021.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 18 March 2021
    ...(C‑193/17, EU:C:2019:43). 37 Voir, classiquement, arrêt du 1er mars 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats e.a. (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100). 38 Voir, récemment, par exemple, arrêt du 3 février 2021, Fussl Modestraße Mayr (C‑555/19, EU:C:2021:89, point 95). En ce qui concerne le......
  • Conclusiones del Abogado General Sr. P. Pikamäe, presentadas el 29 de julio de 2019.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 29 July 2019
    ...disposición estatutaria. 23 Véase la sentencia de 1 de marzo de 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats y otros (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100), apartado 24 Véanse las sentencias de 21 de octubre de 2009, Ramaekers-Jørgensen/Comisión (F‑74/08, EU:F:2009:142), apartado 53, y de 1 de ......
  • Opinion of Advocate General Medina delivered on 3 February 2022.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 3 February 2022
    ...70 e giurisprudenza ivi citata). 111 V., in particolare, sentenza del 1º marzo 2011, Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats e a. (C‑236/09, EU:C:2011:100, punto 29). 112 V., per analogia, sentenza del 6 ottobre 2021, Conacee (C‑598/19, EU:C:2021:810, punto 38). 113 La stessa conven......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 books & journal articles
  • Evidence from CJEU case law
    • European Union
    • Evaluation on the application of Directive 79/7/EEC on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters
    • 3 October 2019
    ...others, that the alleged 235 Case C-236/09, Association Belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL and Others v Conseil des ministres, ECLI:EU:C:2011:100. 236 Administrative Court of Appeals of Athens 4611/2001. EVALUATION ON THE APPLICATION OF DIRECTIVE 79/7/EEC ON THE PROGRESSIVE IMPLEMENTA......
  • Annexes
    • European Union
    • Evaluation on the application of Directive 79/7/EEC on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters
    • 3 October 2019
    ...Republic, ECLI:EU:C:2009:198. Case C-236/09, Association Belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL and Others v Conseil des ministres, ECLI:EU:C:2011:100. Joined cases C-250/09 and C-268/09, Vasil Ivanov Georgiev v Tehnicheski universitet - Sofia, filial Plovdiv, ECLI:EU:C:2010:699. Case C-1......
  • Fundamental Rights and Legal Wrongs: The Two Sides of the Same EU Coin
    • European Union
    • European Law Journal Nbr. 22-1, January 2016
    • 1 January 2016
    ...Spain, EU:C:2014:317; Case C-528/13 Léger, EU:C:2015:288.2Only two directives have been struck down for violation with the Charter. Case C-236/09 Test-Achats, EU:C:2011:100; Case C-293/12 Digital Rights Ireland, EU:C:2014:238.3On the (uncertain) material difference made by the Charter, Euro......
  • Introduction
    • European Union
    • Country report, gender equality. How are EU rules transposed into national law?: Malta 2020
    • 13 August 2020
    ...application of Council Directive 2004/113/EC to insurance, in the light of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-236/09 ( Test-Achats ). 1.3 Sources of law The main sources of gender equality law are: national legislation as described above; EU gender equality......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT