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X v Netherlands (decision), 1 March 1983 [ECtHR]

Case no 9926/82

1. The applicants complain that the general tax on the sale of flower bulbs levied by the PVS is tantamount to a contribution to private law organisations hence to de facto affiliation to these organisations-in the present case to KVB-on the grounds that the proceeds of the PVS tax mainly benefit the development of certain private law associations including the KAVB. In addition to what the applicants call a de facto obligation, they explain that the organisation of the flower bulb sector effectively obliges them to become members of an association in order to be able to continue their trade. They rely on Article 11 of the Convention.

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a. The Commission firstly observes that, when examining the applicants' complaints, it must take account of the fact that the PVS and the private law organisations set up around this public law body from part of the economic organisation of the respondent state (cf. Mutatis mutandis, application No. 2290/64 v/the Netherlands, Collection of Decisions No. 22, p. 28).

In the second place, the Commission admits that, generally speaking, freedom of association implies the freedom not to associate or not to join an association, the only reservation being in certain particular situations based on relationships governed by public law. However, it is not necessary to develop this point any further in the present case since the Commission considers that it does not follow from the fact that a part of the proceeds of the tax levied by the PVS benefits a given association, that there is any de facto obligation to join this association by virtue of the fact that payment of the tax amounts to a contribution to the association . . . .

It follows that the complaint on this score is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning bf Article 27 (2) of the Convention.

b. The applicants further allege that they are effectively obliged to join the KAVB in order to continue to exercise their trade. Having regard to its previous conclusions regarding the scope of Article 11 of Convention, the Commission considers that no legal provision obliges the applicant to join the KAVB and that they have not produced sufficient evidence to show that they are unable to exercise their trade without joining this association.

It follows that the examination of this part of the complaint reveals no appearance of violation of Article 11 of the Convention, so that it must be considered manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 (2) of the Convention .

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Jurisprudence

Compulsion to join Business associations Economic objectives Hunting associations Pension funds Restrictions Criminal convictions Non-nationals Public officials Disclosure of member's name Deportation Discriminatory treatment Failure to promote Transfer