The story of the teeth that changed everything in Europe

By Camille FratiLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

They have given their names to landmark judgments of the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg, where they have argued extraordinary cases. Meet the people whose determination has advanced the law in Europe, such as the family from the Moselle region who defied the Luxembourgish state to have their orthodontic treatment in Germany paid by the social security.

Traditionally – at least until the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into force – the major judgments of national or international courts are given the name of the plaintiff, whether it is a company or an individual. Their names are repeated by law students and recalled by lawyers and judges in subsequent cases.

In European law, landmark judgments reflect the diversity of the European Union: Van Gend en Loos, Costa v Enel, Cassis de Dijon… These judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU, sitting in Luxembourg since its first steps in 1952, have advanced European law and established its principles: first of all economic principles such as the free movement of goods and persons, but also legal principles such as the superiority of European law over national law, and, over time, the guarantee of fundamental rights.

Behind these complex, ten- or twenty-page decisions are the stories of people who simply fought to correct what they thought was an injustice – and took on a state for it. This is the case of Raymond Kohll, a winemaker in Ehnen and father of Aline, who was 13 years old in 1994. "I had been having dental treatment in Luxembourg since I was a child, but my parents could see that it wasn't going like it should have", recalls Aline Kohll, now a physiotherapist in Remich. "My dentist always said that it was very complicated and that I had to have a long treatment or schedule a difficult operation. My mother didn't want that. A friend of my parents, a dentist in Germany, advised them to consult an orthodontist in Trier."

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