Credits to
Anna De Giuli

On the concept of “vulnerability” according to the Court of Justice of the European Union

The polysemy of the notion of “vulnerability” in the social, economic and environmental spheres in the decisions of the CJEU

Issue 10/2020

Abstract. In recent years, the notion of “vulnerability”, after being subject of doctrinal examination, has developed a relevant role in the legal field to the point of being used both by legislators and judges. After a brief doctrinal recognition, in this paper the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) regarding “vulnerability” will be examined. By comparing the available sentences that contain this word the relevance of this concept in the judicial arguments will be highlighted divided into three areas of ap-plication: social, economical and environmental. The analysis points out that the Court’s margin of discretion for evaluating the elements that determine an entity’s “vulnerability” is higher in the social field in comparison to the economical and environmental fields.

This article was submitted anonymously for evaluation by two expert reviewers, with a positive outcome.


SUMMARY: 1. The semantics of vulnerability: between doctrine and jurisprudence. — 2. Individuals or vulnerable groups? A few considerations on the different uses of the word “vulnerability” by the CJEU. — 2.1. Health under scrutiny from a vulnerability perspective: between the ontological perspective and the individual condition. — 2.2. Vulnerable consumers. — 2.3. Implications of the presence of vulnerable subjects in procedural aspects. — 3. The problematic intersection between the vulnerability condition and free market competition. — 4. The CJEU as a supervisor of the member States duties in the recognition of vulnerable zones. — 5. A diversified use of vulnerability in accordance with the heterogeneous nature of legal cases.


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