European Parliament officials are planning to disrupt the nomination hearings of European commissioners next week in protest at a decision by the Council of Ministers to block a 3.7% pay increase for EU officials.
All six unions representing staff working for the Parliament agreed yesterday (6 January) to hold a demonstration on the afternoon of 11 January to hold up the planned hearings for two commissioners, Janusz Lewandowski and Catherine Ashton. They may try and disrupt other hearings, a union representative said.
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Staff unions are protesting at a decision on 23 December by ambassadors from the EU’s national governments to block a 3.7% pay rise for all EU civil servants. They voted unanimously to limit the pay rise for staff to 1.85%. Member states argued that it was not appropriate to grant the 3.7% increase when national civil servants were losing their jobs or suffering pay-cuts or freezes.
The European Commission announced yesterday that it would ask the European Court of Justice to quash the Council’s decision. The Commission argues that the Council is legally obliged to approve the 3.7% figure, which is calculated based on the average salary increases for civil servants in eight member states in the year ending the previous July plus a cost of living allowance for Brussels.
A spokeswoman said that the Commission had asked the court to treat the case under an accelerated procedure. This could mean that the court rules on the legality of the Council decision within six months if the court agrees that a quick verdict is justified.
Parliament staff unions want Parliament President Jerzy Buzek to support the Commission’s legal challenge to the Council by applying to be a recognised party in the case. Buzek has already signalled support for staff and the court challenge.
The Commission won a similar case in 1972 when the Council failed to award a pay rise during the oil crisis.