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The Pledge for an EU Work-Free Sunday Legislative Measure Remains Unconstitutional

The Pledge for an EU Work-Free Sunday Legislative Measure Remains Unconstitutional

"As a current or future member of the European Parliament I pledge:

"To ensure that all relevant EU legislation both respects and promotes the protection of a common weekly day of rest for all EU citizens, which shall be in principle on a Sunday, in order to protect workers' health and promote a better balance between family and private life and work"[i]

The above Pledge, aimed at the present and future European Parliamentarians, I argue remains unconstitutional. The European Sunday Alliance[ii] supported by certain MEPs[iii] and Comece[iv] released a pledge at the Second European Conference on the Protection of Work-free Sunday, held on the 21st January 2014 at the European Parliament in Brussels. The Conference was attended by 120 preregistered participants from across Europe.

I welcome and sincerely appreciate the initiative that all citizens of Europe have their health protected and a proper balance enacted for family, private life and work. However, my view remains that a legal case has not been provided as yet for Sunday to be the only official weekly day of rest.

The Pledge that has been presented ahead of the European Elections in 2014 is nothing new. Five years ago, a similar instrument, namely the ‘Written Declaration’, was launched on the 2nd February 2009 also ahead of the European Elections at the time, by five MEPs[v] supported by Comece. Its purpose was intended to lobby the MEPs for its adoption. Based on Article 137 (TEU) the Treaty of the European Union and Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure called on:

“The Member States and the EU institutions to protect Sunday, as a weekly rest day, in forthcoming national and EU working-time legislation in order to enhance the protection of workers’ health and the reconciliation of work and family life”[vi]

A majority of 394 Members of the European Parliament needed to pledge by placing their signatures to the document before 7th May 2009. However, it lapsed for not enough signatures were attained from MEPs. My opinion still remains that to enshrine Sunday Work-free legislation through the Pledge procedure, now in progress ahead of the May 2014 European Elections, is a repetition of the 'Written Declaration' of 2009. The Pledge remains unconstitutional on the following grounds;

  1. On the 12th November 1996, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) annulled this provision. The Court found that the Council had failed to explain why Sunday, as a weekly rest day, is more closely connected with the health and safety of workers than any other day of the week.
  2. The Pledge call was at variance with the European Union Doctrine of Subsidiarity which entails that the ideal was for Member States to decide for themselves whether to have Sunday as a weekly day of rest and not a role of the European Union institutions or any other religious groups or associations.
  3. The Pledge that a "common weekly day of rest for all EU citizens be in principle on Sunday" violates Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to acknowledge religious observance for those who may prefer to worship on an alternative day.

For a detailed analysis of the above three points, I refer the readers to click on the following articles;

1.European Sunday Weekly Rest Day Legislation Remains Unlawful

2. Analysis: EU Weekly Work-Free Sunday Legislative Proposal is Anomalous and Unconstitutional on the Grounds of Subsidiarity Doctrine

3. Reflections on the First European Conference for the Protection of a Work-Free Sunday

[ii] http://www.europeansundayalliance.eu/site/whoweare 16/02/2014

“The European Sunday Alliance is a network of national Sunday Alliance, trades unions, civil society organisations and religious communities committed to raise awareness of the unique value of  synchronised free time for our European societies.”

[iii] http://www.europeansundayalliance.eu/site/sunday conference 2014/article/147.html.

“The Members of  Parliament Evelyn Ragner (S&D) and Thomas Mann (EPP)”


“Comece is the Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community. Their main objectives are to monitor and analyse the political process of the European Union; inform and raise awareness within the Church of the development of EU policy and legislation”

[v] DC763921EN.doc p.1,  Anna Zaborska,  Martin Kastler, Jean Louis Cottigny, Patrizia Toia and Konrad Szymanski

[vi] DC763921EN.doc p.2

Brighton Kavaloh

Brighton G. Kavaloh is a retired Seventh-day Adventist ordained Minister of Religion. He is the Founder and Director of Advent Religio-Legal Perspective.

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