The EC Treaty provides for a complete ban on discrimination based on nationality (Article 18), thus guaranteeing a number of freedoms. Article 18 only applies if no other, more specific Treaty provision applies in which the ban on discrimination for the relevant subject is further detailed. These other provisions address what are known as the six fundamental freedoms:

  • The free movement of citizens in the Union
  • The free movement of goods
  • The free movement of workers
  • The freedom of establishment
  • The free movement of services
  • The free movement of capital

These freedoms are guaranteed with a view to realizing an internal market, which means a market free of internal borders and, therefore, free of restrictions on imports and exports. Only then can maximum prosperity be achieved in the whole EC, which is one of the central objectives of the EC Treaty.

The question of whether, in specific situations, the EC Treaty has been infringed upon, depends on the answers to the following, and other, questions: 

  1. Do the Community law provisions on free movement and freedom of establishment apply, or is the situation a domestic matter subject only to national law?
  2. If the Community law provisions apply, is an obstruction involved, or direct or indirect discrimination that contravenes Community law?
  3. If so, is there an objective justification for the disputed measure?
  4. Is that measure suitable for attaining its objective (suitability requirement), and are there no other means available, that are less restrictive for citizens, for attaining that objective (proportionality requirement)?