Advocate General suggests Court of Justice uphold changes in Staff Regulations and to quash General Court’s judgment
Today, Advocate General Kokott delivered her Opinion in Commission v Carreras Sequeros and Others (C‑119/19 P and C‑126/19 P), a case concerning the EU Staff Regulations and, specifically, the assessment of rules significantly reducing the paid leave granted to EU staff in the light of Article 31(2) of the Charter, which guarantees the right to paid leave without specifying its scope in time.
Mr Carreras Sequeros and Others are officials or contract staff of the European Commission. In 2014, and in accordance with the new first indent of the second paragraph of Article 6 of Annex X to the Staff Regulations, they were granted 36 working days of annual leave in 2014 instead of 42 in the previous year. They then brought an action before the EU Civil Service Court, asking the Tribunal to declare the new Article 6 of Annex X to the Staff Regulations unlawful and to annul the decisions reducing their annual leave from 2014. This action was subsequently transferred to the General Court which, by its judgment of 4 December 2018 (T-518/16), annulled the decisions reducing the applicants’ annual leave in 2014.
This judgment was appealed before the Court of Justice by both the Commission and the Council. The Council, in addition to its own appeal, made a cross-appeal to the appeal brought by the Commission.
By her Opinion today, the Advocate General suggest that the Court of Justice:
- Declare inadmissible the cross-appeal of the Council to the Commission’s appeal. In this regard, the AG admits that it is possible to challenge a judgment on appeal and, in parallel, by way of cross-appeal. However, an appeal subsequently lodged that involves the same parties, which is based on the same grounds, and which seeks annulment of the same legal act, must be declared inadmissible on the grounds of lis pendens.
- Annul the judgment under appeal, as the General Court failed to take into consideration relevant aspects in the examination of the application of the principle of proportionality.
- Dismiss the first plea in law of the action at first instance in the case brought before the General Court, concerning an alleged infringement of the specific nature and purpose of the right to annual leave. According to the Opinion, the EU legislator enjoyed a broad margin of discretion in framing legal rules aiming at improving life and work conditions, and it did not commit a manifest error of assessment when balancing the benefits and the costs arising from the new rules applicable to EU staff.
- Refer the case back to the General Court for it to rule on the other pleas in law in the action at first instance, namely on the question of whether the new rules respect the general principle of equal treatment, the principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the right to respect for private and family life.
The Opinion is available here (in French).