This may not be hot news, but raises some questions. The ECJ has partially annulled Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 1296/2009 on the adjustment of the remuneration and pensions of officials of the European Union.
In November 2009, the Commission proposed a salary increase of 3.7%. On 23 December 2009, the Council decided on an increase, in the contested regulation. It considered that the Commission’s proposal for adjusting salaries should be modified to take account of the economic and financial crisis. It fixed new salary levels on the basis of an increase of 1.85%.
The Commission brought an action for annulment against the provisions of the regulation setting out those amounts. It argued that the Staff Regulations establish an automatic method for adjusting salaries that leaves no margin of discretion to the Council that would allow it to reject the Commission’s proposal.
The ECJ has concluded that the Council has no margin of discretion allowing it to decide upon a salary adjustment different to that proposed by the Commission on the basis of the criteria laid down in Article 3 of Annex XI of the Staff Regulations alone, except under the special procedure provided for by Article 10 of that Annex.
Interestingly, the ECJ has held that in order to avoid creating a legal vacuum in the EU salary regime, the effects of those articles are maintained until such time as a new regulation, adopted by the Council, enters into force.
Here are the questions:
What was the Council Legal Service actually thinking? Did they explain to Council members that they were about to make a blatant violation of relevant EU law? If yes, did the Council adopt the regulation anyway to score a political point against the Commission?