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Case C-112/00 Schmidberger v Austria

[2003] ECR I-5659

Case summary last updated at 12/02/2020 18:10 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Case C-112/00 Schmidberger v Austria

A closed the roads between Austria and Italy to allow an environmental protest to take place. S claimed that this road closure prevented free movement of goods under article 28. A contended that this was justified by the fundamental rights of expression and association that it was protecting, so that there were rights being weighed up against each other. ECJ accepted the protection of fundamental rights as a justification for infringing free movement of goods. 
ECJ: “since both the Community and its Member States are required to respect fundamental rights, the protection of those rights is a legitimate interest which, in principle, justifies a restriction of the obligations imposed by Community law, even under a fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Treaty such as the free movement of goods.” The restriction of free movement of goods here was therefore deemed proportionate as an appropriate means to respect the rights of freedom of expression and association. The weighing up exercise was necessary because freedom of expression and association are two qualified (not absolute) rights, therefore they do not necessarily trump free movement of goods. 

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