(CN) – The European Commission is taking the EU Council to court for its refusal to cut staff members’ salaries, as the Commission ordered.
It’s the second time in 3 years that the Council has ignored the Commission’s mandates for pay cuts, the Commission said in a statement.
After the Commission sued in 2009, the Court of Justice ruled that the Council has no margin of discretion and must adopt the Commission’s adjustments.
Salaries and pensions of EU officials are adjusted according to decisions of the member states on the salaries of their own national civil servants. When salaries of national officials increase or decrease, the Commission applies the same changes to EU staff.
Debt crises in EU member states and fiscal instability across Europe have led several countries, including Spain and Italy, to reduce the salaries of government employees. Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom increased salaries nominally, but salary reductions averaged 1.8 percent across EU member states, the Commission said.
The Commission proposed the same 1.8 percent reduction for all EU officials, regardless of where they are based. But the Council rejected it.
The Commission says it “took into account the need for austerity by proposing staff cuts in all EU institutions of 5 percent as well as major changes to the Staff Regulations, such as increasing weekly working time from 37.5 to 40 hours without compensation, postponing the retirement age to 65 (or 67 under certain circumstances), and reshaping career structures for secretaries and assistants. All these measures will result in over 1 billion euros of savings over the next seven years and 1 billion euros per year in the long run if adopted.
“Despite the above considerations, the Council took a formal decision not to adopt the Commission Proposal. The Commission considers that this decision breaches the Staff Regulations and is therefore obliged, as guardian of the Treaties, to challenge it before the Court of Justice.”
Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said: “The Commission regrets that it is again obliged to take the Council to court on this matter. The Council and the Commission both recognize the need for savings in administrative costs. However, such savings have to be made in compliance with the law and if necessary by changing the law, not by breaking it.”