Criticism of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) by Swiss unions intensified in 2007 after the Court ruled against workers in the Laval case in Sweden.
Latvian workers were being paid less than the minimum wage on a construction site in Sweden. In protest, local workers blockaded the site. However, the CJEU ruled against the blockade on the grounds that it prevented the free movement of services.
Swiss unions viewed the ruling as a failure to protect the rights of workers and felt it set a dangerous precedent that might one day be applied in Switzerland.
The application of EU court decisions is a point of contention in Switzerland and one of the sticking points in current negotiations between Bern and Brussels over the formulation of the framework agreement. Switzerland’s unions have been vocal in these discussions, concerned any new deal with the EU might reduce the rights of workers in Switzerland and increase wage dumping.
Koen Lenaerts, president of the CJEU, recently said that he stands by the Laval decision. For him, economic liberty is also a fundamental right that must be preserved. One fundamental right cannot systematically be given preference over another. They are on the same level and must coexist in harmony, he told RTS
For Lenaerts social protection is a double-edged sword. Social protection can also be part of the problem. We always talk of social dumping, however social protectionism can also be a problem.