JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
20 May 2003(1)
(Protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data - Directive 95/46/EC - Protection of private life - Disclosure of data on the income of employees of bodies subject to control by the Rechnungshof)
In Joined Cases C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01,
REFERENCES to the Court under Article 234 EC by the Verfassungsgerichtshof (C-465/00) and the Oberster Gerichtshof (C-138/01 and C-139/01) (Austria) for preliminary rulings in the proceedings pending before those courts between
Stadt Wiener Neustadt,
Austrian Airlines, Österreichische Luftverkehrs-AG,
Christa Neukomm (C-138/01),
Joseph Lauermann (C-139/01)
on the interpretation of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (OJ 1995 L 281, p. 31),
composed of: G.C. Rodríguez Iglesias, President, J.-P. Puissochet, M. Wathelet (Rapporteur) and R. Schintgen (Presidents of Chambers), C. Gulmann, D.A.O. Edward, A. La Pergola, P. Jann, V. Skouris, F. Macken, N. Colneric, S. von Bahr and J.N. Cunha Rodrigues, Judges,
Advocate General: A. Tizzano,
Registrar: M.-F. Contet, Principal Administrator,
after considering the written observations submitted on behalf of:
- the Rechnungshof, by F. Fiedler, acting as Agent (C-465/00),
- Österreichischer Rundfunk, by P. Zöchbauer, Rechtsanwalt (C-465/00),
- Wirtschaftskammer Steiermark, by P. Mühlbacher and B. Rupp, acting as Agents (C-465/00),
- Marktgemeinde Kaltenleutgeben, by F. Nistelberger, Rechtsanwalt (C-465/00),
- Land Niederösterreich, by E. Pröll, C. Kleiser and L. Staudigl, acting as Agents (C-465/00),
- Österreichische Nationalbank, by K. Liebscher and G. Tumpel-Gugerell, acting as Agents (C-465/00),
- Stadt Wiener Neustadt, by H. Linhart, acting as Agent (C-465/00),
- Austrian Airlines, Österreichische Luftverkehrs-AG, by H. Jarolim, Rechtsanwalt (C-465/00),
- the Austrian Government, by H. Dossi, acting as Agent (C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01),
- the Danish Government, by J. Molde, acting as Agent (C-465/00),
- the Italian Government, by U. Leanza, acting as Agent, assisted by D. Del Gaizo, avvocato dello Stato (C-465/00) and O. Fiumara, avvocato generale dello Stato (C-138/01 and C-139/01),
- the Netherlands Government, by H.G. Sevenster, acting as Agent (C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01),
- the Finnish Government, by E. Bygglin, acting as Agent (C-465/00),
- the Swedish Government, by A. Kruse, acting as Agent (C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01),
- the United Kingdom Government, by R. Magrill, acting as Agent, and J. Coppel, Barrister (C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01),
- the Commission of the European Communities, by U. Wölker and X. Lewis, acting as Agents (C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01),
having regard to the Report for the Hearing,
after hearing the oral observations of Marktgemeinde Kaltenleutgeben, represented by F. Nistelberger; Land Niederösterreich, represented by C. Kleiser; Österreichische Nationalbank, represented by B. Gruber, Rechtsanwalt; Austrian Airlines, Österreichische Luftverkehrs-AG, represented by H. Jarolim; the Austrian Government, represented by W. Okresek, acting as Agent; the Italian Government, represented by M. Fiorilli, avvocato dello Stato; the Netherlands Government, represented by J. van Bakel, acting as Agent; the Finnish Government, represented by T. Pynnä, acting as Agent; the Swedish Government, represented by A. Kruse and B. Hernqvist, acting as Agent; and the Commission, represented by U. Wölker and C. Docksey, acting as Agent, at the hearing on 18 June 2002,
after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 14 November 2002,
gives the following
1. Bodies subject to control by the Rechnungshof must, within the first three months of each second calendar year, inform the Rechnungshof of the salaries or pensions of persons who in at least one of the two previous calendar years drew salaries or pensions greater annually than 14 times 80% of the monthly reference amount under Paragraph 1 [for 2000, 14 times EUR 5 887.87]. The bodies must also state the salaries and pensions of persons who draw an additional salary or pension from a body subject to audit by the Rechnungshof. Persons who draw a salary or pension from two or more bodies subject to control by the Rechnungshof must inform the bodies of this. If this duty of disclosure is not complied with by the body, the Rechnungshof must inspect the relevant documents and draw up its report on the basis thereof.
2. In the application of subparagraph 1, social benefits and benefits in kind are also to be taken into account, unless they are benefits from sickness or accident insurance or on the basis of comparable provisions of Land law. Where several salaries or pensions are paid by bodies subject to control by the Rechnungshof, they are to be aggregated.
3. The Rechnungshof shall summarise that information - for each year separately - in a report. The report shall include all persons whose total yearly salaries and pensions from bodies subject to control by the Rechnungshof exceed the amount stated in subparagraph 1. The report shall be transmitted to the Nationalrat, the Bundesrat and the Landtage.
1. In accordance with this Directive, Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data.
2. Member States shall neither restrict nor prohibit the free flow of personal data between Member States for reasons connected with the protection afforded under paragraph 1.
(2) Whereas data-processing systems are designed to serve man; whereas they must, whatever the nationality or residence of natural persons, respect their fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to privacy, and contribute to economic and social progress, trade expansion and the well-being of individuals;
(3) Whereas the establishment and functioning of an internal market in which, in accordance with Article 7a of the Treaty, the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured require not only that personal data should be able to flow freely from one Member State to another, but also that the fundamental rights of individuals should be safeguarded.
(10) Whereas the object of the national laws on the processing of personal data is to protect fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to privacy, which is recognised both in Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and in the general principles of Community law; ...
(a) processed fairly and lawfully;
(b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes ...
(c) adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are collected and/or further processed;
any operation or set of operations which is performed upon personal data, whether or not by automatic means, such as collection, recording, organisation, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, blocking, erasure or destruction.
(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject; or
(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller ... to whom the data are disclosed.
- in the course of an activity which falls outside the scope of Community law, such as those provided for by Titles V and VI of the Treaty on European Union and in any case to processing operations concerning public security, defence, State security (including the economic well-being of the State when the processing operation relates to State security matters) and the activities of the State in areas of criminal law;
- by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity.
The main proceedings and the questions referred for preliminary rulings
1. Are the provisions of Community law, in particular those on data protection, to be interpreted as precluding national legislation which requires a State body to collect and transmit data on income for the purpose of publishing the names and income of employees of:
(a) a regional or local authority,
(b) a broadcasting organisation governed by public law,
(c) a national central bank,
(d) a statutory representative body,
(e) a partially State-controlled undertaking which is operated for profit?
2. If the answer to at least part of the above question is in the affirmative:
Are the provisions precluding such national legislation directly applicable, in the sense that the persons obliged to make disclosure may rely on them to prevent the application of contrary national provisions?
Cases C-138/01 and C-139/01
1. Are the provisions of Community law, in particular those on data protection (Articles 1, 2, 6, 7 and 22 of Directive 95/46/EC in conjunction with Article 6 (formerly Article F) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 8 of the Convention), to be interpreted as precluding national legislation which requires a public broadcasting organisation, as a legal body, to communicate, and a State body to collect and transmit, data on income for the purpose of publishing the names and income of employees of a broadcasting organisation governed by public law?
2. If the Court of Justice of the European Communities answers the above question in the affirmative:
Are the provisions precluding national legislation of the kind described above directly applicable, in the sense that an organisation obliged to make disclosure may rely on them to prevent the application of contrary national legislation, and may not therefore rely on an obligation under national law against the employees concerned by the disclosure?
Applicability of Directive 95/46
Observations submitted to the Court
Findings of the Court
The first question
Observations submitted to the Court
Findings of the Court
Existence of an interference with private life
Justification of the interference
Consequences with respect to the provisions of Directive 95/46
The second question
102. The costs incurred by the Austrian, Danish, Italian, Netherlands, Finnish, Swedish and United Kingdom Governments and by the Commission, which have submitted observations to the Court, are not recoverable. Since these proceedings are, for the parties to the main proceedings, a step in the proceedings pending before the national courts, the decisions on costs are a matter for those courts.
On those grounds,
in answer to the questions referred to it by the Verfassungsgerichtshof by order of 12 December 2000 and by the Oberster Gerichtshof by orders of 14 and 28 February 2001, hereby rules:
1. Articles 6(1)(c) and 7(c) and (e) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data do not preclude national legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings, provided that it is shown that the wide disclosure not merely of the amounts of the annual income above a certain threshold of persons employed by the bodies subject to control by the Rechnungshof but also of the names of the recipients of that income is necessary for and appropriate to the objective of proper management of public funds pursued by the legislature, that being for the national courts to ascertain.
2. Articles 6(1)(c) and 7(c) and (e) of Directive 95/46 are directly applicable, in that they may be relied on by an individual before the national courts to oust the application of rules of national law which are contrary to those provisions.
Delivered in open court in Luxembourg on 20 May 2003.
R. Grass G.C. Rodríguez Iglesias
1: Language of the case: German.