CJEU Cases C-157/15 Achbita and C-188/15 Bougnaoui: Following in the footsteps of the European Court of Human Rights or moving away?

Adina Portaru


On 14 March 2017 the Court of Justice of the EU delivered its judgments in Achbita and Bougnaoui, analyzing, for the first time, something formerly in the realm of interpretation of the European Court of Human Rights: the relationship between the employees’ right to manifest religion in the work place and the employers’ desire for a certain understanding of corporate neutrality.

The current article will show that the CJEU judgments in Achbita and Bougnaoui depart from the established ECtHR analysis of limitations on fundamental rights by failing to properly assess the necessity and proportionality of the interdiction on religious symbols, generally setting a weak threshold for limitations on religious manifestations. The present research will also inquire whether such differing standards will, in the long term, lead to a fragmentation and a weakening of the protection of freedom of religion or belief in Europe.

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