Restriction on Shop Opening Hours

For almost 25 years retailers have sought, without much success, to invoke Union law in an effort to liberalise Member States restrictions on shop opening hours. The Pelckmans judgment, delivered by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), First Chamber on 8th May 2014, marks a new stage of development in a long line of case-law on the matter. The CJEU was requested to review for the first time the compatibility of Belgian legislation prohibiting seven-day retail trading with provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Court’s response on the Charter is unremarkable. Nevertheless, Pelckmans remains an interesting case. That decision refreshes an important statement of principle in EU internal market law: non-discriminatory rules on retail trading hours fall outside the scope of the Treaty. More significantly, it reminds us that the legal framework governing the outer limits of the Treaty freedoms remains fragmented – a structural feature that the Court arguably maintains to its own advantage.