(CN) - The European Commission may give itself a higher raise than the European Council wants, in light of the global economic crisis, the Court of Justice ruled.
The European Commission, which acts as the executive branch of the European Union, gave its officials a 3.7 percent pay increase in November 2009.
Composed of heads of state from the 27 European Union member states, the European Council noted the economic climate and decreased the raise to 1.85 percent.
The commission challenged the council on the reduced pay raise, saying an automatic formula, rather than discretionary decisions, should determine salary adjustments. Salaries are typically adjusted, with a lag time, based on an index from eight of the EU's wealthiest countries.
The Luxembourg-based court, Europe's highest, sided with the commission in saying that the council cannot use its discretion to lower the salaries.
While EU staff regulations contain a clause permitting adjustments in the case of severe economic deterioration, the council did not use this clause in its decision, according to the Court of Justice.
The court annulled the council's salary adjustment regulations and ruled that the 3.7 percent raise should stand until the council adopts a new regulation. This pay increase will be backdated to July 1.
The BBC reports that the raise should affect about 45,000 workers, including Court of Justice judges. It also pointed out that, beyond salary, EU staff get a number of additional allowances.
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