Tag Archives: decision

Commission Wins on Salaries Dispute with Council

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?



Summary of the Council Decision on the Organization of the European External Action Service

The Council Decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has been published in the Official Journal. The decision was adopted after some negotiations with the European Parliament, which, although only consulted in this procedure, wielded significant influence over the final result.

The decision specifically underscores that the European Parliament will fully play its role in the external action of the Union, including its functions of political control as provided for in Article 14, para. 1 TEU. The High Representative will regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the CFSP and will ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration.

The main function of the EEAS is to support the High Representative for the Foreign and Security Policy and the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, and the Commission in the exercise of their respective functions in the area of external relations.

The EEAS must support, and work in cooperation with, the diplomatic services of the Member States, as well as with the General Secretariat of the Council and the services of the Commission, in order to ensure consistency between the different areas of the Union’s external action and between those areas and its other policies.

The EEAS is managed by an Executive Secretary-General who operates under the authority of the High Representative. The Executive Secretary-General is assisted by two Deputy Secretaries-General. The central administration of the EEAS is organised in directorates-general comprising geographic desks covering all countries and regions of the world, as well as multilateral and thematic desks.

Union delegations will be opened by the High Representative, in agreement with the Council and the Commission. The Head of Delegation shall have authority over all staff in the delegation, whatever their status, and for all its activities. The Head of Delegation shall have the power to represent the Union in the country where the delegation is accredited.

Permanent officials of the Union should represent at least 60 % of all EEAS staff at AD level, including staff coming from the diplomatic services of the Member States who have become permanent officials of the Union.

The EU Sanctions on Iran – the Legal Background

We all know that the EU has imposed stricter sanctions on Iran than provided for in the United Nations Security Council resolution 1929 (2010). It is interesting, though, to consider the legal background of this measure.

The new sanctions are imposed with a Council decision based on art. 29 TEU. The decision prohibits the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of further items, materials, equipment, goods and technology, in addition to those determined by the Security Council or the Committee, that could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water- related activities, or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems. The decision imposes restrictions on financial transactions to and from Iran, freezing of funds, as well as inspections on all Iranian cargo and admission restrictions for certain individuals.

Commission Decision on Carbon Emission Allowances for 2013

This is important. The Commission has stepped forward to determine the absolute Community-wide quantity of carbon emission allowances for 2013. This means that the total aggregate number of emission allowances issued by all Member States in 2013 should not exceed this number – 1 926 876 368. The Commission has the obligation under Article 9 of Directive 2003/87/EC to publish the absolute Community-wide quantity of allowances for 2013 based on the total quantities of allowances in accordance with the Commission Decisions on the national allocation plans (NAPs) of the Member States for the period from 2008 to 2012.

Now, the problem is that not all NAPs have been approved. In a few cases the Commission has rejected the NAPs, but Member states have contested those decisions before the General Court. Two of the Commission decisions (of Estonia and Poland) have already been repealed by the General Court, and four more – for Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria, are pending at the General Court. Poland has submitted a new NAP that was approved by the Commission, but that leaves five NAPs still not approved.

In that respect the Commission says that changes to the National Allocation Plans as a result of legal proceedings, may be reflected in future adjustments to the Community-wide quantity of allowances for 2013. I am skeptical. I don’t see how this Commission decision can be valid given the absolute procedural requirement for valid and approved NAPs for determining the total quantity of emission allowances for 2013. In other words I have serious doubts about the legality of that Commission decision.

ECJ: Ownership of Pharmacies May Be Restricted

ECJ has ruled on the question whether national restrictions for ownership and operation of pharmacies contradicts with the principle of free competition.

In its judgments ECJ states that excluding the possibility for non-pharmacists to operate pharmacies or to acquire stakes in companies or firms operating pharmacies constitutes a restriction on the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.

That restriction can nevertheless be justified by the objective of ensuring that the provision of medicinal products to the public is reliable and of good quality.