Proportionality (law) - European Union Law

European Union Law

See also: EU law

In European Union law there generally acknowledged to be four stages to a proportionality test, namely,

  • there must be a legitimate aim for a measure
  • the measure must be suitable to achieve the aim (potentially with a requirement of evidence to show it will have that effect)
  • the measure must be necessary to achieve the aim, that there cannot be any less onerous way of doing it
  • the measure must be reasonable, considering the competing interests of different groups at hand

It is, however, often seen that the third and fourth criterion are often merged into one by the European Court of Justice, depending on the margin of discretion that the Court sees as being afforded to the member state. Examples are found in R (Seymour-Smith) v Secretary of State for Employment, where the ECJ points out that a member state has some discretion in the policies it pursues, surrounding unfair dismissal, in reducing unemployment. Further examples of the proportionality test are seen in Mangold v Helm and Kücükdeveci v Swedex GmbH & Co KG.

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