AG Pikamäe suggests the Court dismiss the appeal in staff case Alvarez y Bejarano, on judicial review of statutory acts
Advocate General (AG) Pikamäe delivered his Opinion in Alvarez y Bejarano and Others (C-517/19 P), a request for the setting aside of the judgment of the General Court in Joined Cases T-516/16 and T-536/16, by which the General Court rejected the appellants’ annulment action against several decisions of European Commission and the Council refusing, as of 2014, their right to travel time and reimbursement of annual travel expenses. The case concerns the standard of judicial review when reviewing statutory acts of the legislature on staff matters.
All the appellants are Commission and Council employees who have dual citizenship (in their country of origin and place of employment). Following the entry into force of Regulation 1023/2013, they are not entitled to a right to travel time or reimbursement of annual travel expenses to their country of origin. In their actions before the General Court, they alleged a breach of Article 7 of Annex V and Article 8 of Annex VII to the Staff Regulations, which was dismissed by the General Court.
On appeal before the Court of Justice, the appellants have submitted three arguments:
(i) that the General Court erred in law by limiting the extent of judicial review in the present ‘manifest’ cases;
(ii) that it erred in law by finding that the appellants were not in a comparable situation to staff members who retained the benefit of travel time and reimbursement of their annual travel expenses;
(iii) that it further erred in law in finding that the regulations at issue do not infringe the principle of proportionality.
Advocate General Pikamäe advises the Court to dismiss the appeals. He does not consider that there has been discrimination based on nationality, and notes the broad discretionary power granted by statute, reflected by the limited judicial review the EU courts can carry out, and which the General Court had respected correctly, as it focused on whether there had been an arbitrary or manifestly inappropriate differentiation between the appellants and other staff members. He therefore recommends the Court of Justice dismiss the remaining grounds of appeal alleging the infringement of the principle of equal treatment and proportionality.
The Opinion is available here (not available in English at the time of publication).