Piermont v. France, 27 April 1995 [ECtHR]

Case nos 15773/89 and 15774/89

60. Article 16 (art. 16) of the Convention provides:

"Nothing in Articles 10, 11 and 14 (art. 10, art. 11, art. 14) shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens."

61. According to the Government, Mrs Piermont could not rely on her status either as a member of the European Parliament or as a European citizen and she therefore came within the scope of Article 16 (art. 16). She had, they submitted, been invited less in her capacity as an MEP than as a member of the German "Greens" party and she had expressed her views at the independence demonstration on issues relating to the territorial integrity of the host country and national defence, fields which lay outside the competence of the Community. Furthermore, the recognition, after the material time, of a "citizenship of the Union" was irrelevant. Lastly, the member States of the Community had reserved the right to lay down the circumstances in which nationality could be acquired or lost. Accordingly, anyone who did not possess the nationality of the country in which he intended to exercise the freedoms guaranteed in Articles 10, 11 and 14 (art. 10, art. 11, art. 14) had to be regarded as an alien.

62. The applicant replied that the restrictions in Article 16 (art. 16) did not apply in her case because of her dual status as a European citizen and an MEP. To object that she was an alien when the nature of her functions entailed taking an interest in the whole of the Community’s territory seemed to her to be beside the point.

63. The Commission accepted the applicant’s submissions in substance.

64. The Court cannot accept the argument based on European citizenship, since the Community treaties did not at the time recognise any such citizenship. Nevertheless, it considers that Mrs Piermont’s possession of the nationality of a member State of the European Union and, in addition to that, her status as a member of the European Parliament do not allow Article 16 (art. 16) of the Convention to be raised against her, especially as the people of the OTs take part in the European Parliament elections.

In conclusion, this provision (art. 16) did not authorise the State to restrict the applicant’s exercise of the right guaranteed in Article 10 (art. 10).

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