EESC harassment case: EP decision on 2019 discharge – Judgment T 843/19…

Note for the attention of Mc Christa Schweng President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Subject : EP decision of 28 April on the 2019 discharge – Texts adopted – 2019 discharge: EU general budget – European Economic and Social Committee – Thursday, 29 April 2021 (europa.eu) Judgment T-843/19 of the Court of the same day finding the illegality of the EESC’s “procedure” for the reclassification of Temporary Agents of the groups, in that it MISSED ALL, one after the other, the rules and fundamental principles of our Staff Regulations !  ( CURIA – Documents (europa.eu) )
Ref : My note of 3 November 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/11/harassment-at-the-eesc-with-608-votes-for-and-one-single-vote-against/)
  My note of 14 October 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/10/breaking-news-harassment-cases-at-the-eesc-the-cont-committee/)
  My note of 21 September 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/09/harassment-at-the-eesc-withdrawal-of-mr-krawczyks-candidacy/)
  My note of 7 July 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/09/harassment-of-the-european-economic-and-social-committee-the-belgian-public-prosecutor-refers-the-matter-to-the-criminal-court-in-brussels/)
  My note of 17 June 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/06/decision-of-the-eesc-bureau-of-10-june-2020-concerning-cases-of-harassment)
  My note of 15 May 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2020/05/Harassment at the EESC : R&D has denounced it – OLAF has confirmed it – EP refuses the 2018 discharge to the EESC! Never seen before ! )
  My note of 3 March 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/03/eesc-refusal-by-the-parliaments-committee-on-budgetary-control-cont/)
  My note of 11 February 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/02/harassment-at-the-eesc/)
  My note of 28 January 2020 : (www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/01/olaf-report-on-several-cases-of-harassment-at-the-european-economic-and-social-committee-eesc/ )
  My note of 13 May 2019  (www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2019/05/new-organizational-chart-of-the-eesc-note-for-the-attention-of-mr-luca-jahier/)
  My note of 12 April 2019  (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2019/04/note-a-lattention-de-m-luca-jahier/)
  My note of 12 February 2019  (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2019/02/note-to-the-attention-of-mr-jahier-and-mr-brunetti-harassment-in-the-eesc/)
  My note of 17 December 2018 (http://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2018/12/note-for-the-attention-of-mr-brunetti-management-of-harassment-cases-in-eesc-2/)
  My note of 26 November 2018 : (http://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2018/11/absence-dune-veritable-politique-de-gestion-des-cas-de-harcelement-au-sein-des-institutions/)

At its plenary session on 28 April, the European Parliament voted the discharge to the EESC Secretary-general for the implementation of the general budget of the European Union, for the financial year 2019 with 484 votes in favour and 209 against (link).

As you are aware, throughout the debates within the CONT Commission, noting the failure to resolve the very serious problems that led to the refusal of the 2019 discharge, there was a question of deciding whether to refuse the discharge again (which would have had the effect of plunging the EESC into an irremediable political crisis that would have jeopardised its very existence) or to grant the 2019 discharge despite this, while sending you, as the new President, a message of firmness and encouragement to carry out the essential reforms that you are expected to make.

The aim was to invite you to finally put the EESC in order, without forgetting to acknowledge, in a discharge decision, the seriousness of the facts produced and the extent of the actions still to be taken to remedy them.

 The hesitation between these two options is confirmed by the fact that, of all the institutions, the EESC discharge received the most votes “against”. 

1) We would like to invite you to explain to the EESC Bureau that the EP resolution is not much to celebrate, much less to congratulate your Secretary General!

In this respect, at its meeting on 26 April, i.e. two days before the EP vote, we understand that the EESC Bureau congratulated your Secretary General on the “positive result” he had obtained concerning this discharge!!!

You can easily understand the indignant reactions that such information could arouse among colleagues. They have asked me to ask you to firmly deny it and to confirm that you are fully aware that there is still much to be done.

Before your Secretary-General indulges once again in his usual outraged and outrageous reactions to our allegedly malicious and defamatory comments, in order to prevent him from consulting a lawyer once again – if necessary at the expense of the European taxpayer – to check on the possibility of seeking the institution’s assistance, I would like to remind you of points 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69 and 70 of the EP’s decision, in case they have escaped the perhaps cursory reading of the EESC’s Bureau members.

Regarding shortcomings in internal procedures, inaction by the EESC administration and breach of the duty of care, the EP:

“(…) notes with concern that shortcomings in internal procedures, including an unclear division of reporting responsibilities at senior management level, led to inaction by the Committee’s administration, resulting in a breach of the duty of care and the obligation to refer to OLAF; (…)” *

          “Stresses that the failings of the Committee in this case have resulted in a material loss of public funds in terms of legal fees, sick leave, reduced productivity, meetings of the Bureau and other bodies, etc.; considers, therefore, that this is a worrying situation in terms of accountability, budgetary control and good governance of human resources within the EU institutions, bodies and agencies; (…)”*

Regarding the responsibilities of your Secretary General, the EP:

“(…) Recalls that Parliament refused to grant discharge to the Committee’s Secretary-General for the 2018 financial year, particularly because of a flagrant breach of duty of care and inaction on the part of the administration, as well as the financial consequences; reminds the Committee that the refusal to grant discharge is a serious matter requiring immediate action”;

“ deeply regrets the lack of decisive action, in particular preventive and remedial measures, by the then Director of Human Resources and Finance, now Secretary General, until the refusal of the 2018 discharge”*;

And, as if this was not already more than overwhelming: 

“ During the 2018 discharge procedure and part of the 2019 discharge procedure, the Secretary General was unable to provide sufficient, transparent and reliable information to the Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, as evidenced by the number of times the information provided was refuted by whistleblowers, the committee’s trade unions, the victims’ defence team or the author himself ”*;

Furthermore, the EP:

“ invites the Committee to take note of the damage caused to victims and reporters, both materially and morally, due to insufficient support and lack of legitimate rehabilitation and compensation; is deeply concerned that victims had to file a complaint due to the inaction of the Committee’s administration in the rehabilitation procedure*; reminds the Committee of its obligation to protect victims and reporters”.

If the responsibilities of your administration and your Secretariat are thus confirmed by the EP, if the EESC Bureau is so “distracted” as to be able to congratulate it in the face of such a series of damning criticisms, repeated for years on the occasion of each discharge procedure, we can only share once again the EP’s analysis aimed at underlining the fact that your role is becoming absolutely crucial if we really want to hope to extricate the EESC from this very deep crisis which has already lasted too long.

Thus, regarding the need and urgency for YOUR PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT, Madam President, rather than leaving this matter in the hands of your administration, the EP: 

          “ Calls on the Committee to reach an early settlement with the victims of harassment and misconduct; considers that the new management should play an active role in negotiating a settlement with the victims, with the aim of reaching a fair and satisfactory agreement agreed by all parties, and to avoid any conflict of interest *”;

And, following your intervention, the EP:

“ expects the settlement with victims to be based on the principles of transparency and decency and to include a public apology, fair terms of settlement, full reintegration of the victims into their work environment and guaranteed protection from adverse consequences of the case; Strongly opposes any pressure on victims to sign non-disclosure clauses and prevent them from providing confidential information about the settlement to Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control*; calls on the Committee to submit a detailed report on the proposed protection and compensation measures; calls on the Committee to report on the current situation of the victims identified ”.

And, should your Secretary General and/or your administration try to explain that the EP’s so critical analysis refers only to the past, it should be noted that the EP still confirms to this day that it is:

“ deeply concerned that in April 2021, the EESC continues to fail in its duty of care to victims of harassment and serious misconduct, given that it has only reached amicable settlement agreements with two of the four victims and has not yet issued the promised public apology and calls once again for clear and strong measures of protection and support to be taken in favour of the victims of harassment ”

And, should your Secretary General and/or your administration try to explain that the only unresolved concern would be compensation to victims when the EESC’s internal procedures are now more exemplary than ever, the EP:

“ urges the Committee to adopt specific rules and procedures on harassment and is of the opinion that the fact that the statute cannot be imposed on a Committee member cannot be used as a pretext for inaction ”.

2) Your message to the staff of 28 January 2021, together with your Secretary General

In view of the above, we are convinced that you will appreciate, Madam President, the widely shared feeling of disappointment, surprise and bitterness that your message of 28 January 2021, together with your Secretary General, has aroused, claiming that everything had been done to learn the lessons from the serious facts, denounced by R&D and confirmed by OLAF, of which our colleagues have been the victims in your institution.

This was done without any acknowledgement of the mistakes made and the responsibility for them, without any critical analysis of all the mistakes made in the past: how was it possible that they were made and that for so long the EESC was absolutely incapable first of preventing them and then of correcting and punishing them.

The EESC must stop once and for all being the stage for a painful parody of “The Cheetah”. « Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi »

Inspired by the Prince of Salina in the famous novel “Il gattopardo” (The Cheetah), the EESC administration seems to have been striving for years to … “change everything so that everything remains as it is”.

Transparency and accountability are not empty concepts but founding values of every European institution.

The pretense of simply “turning the page” by announcing lots of changes, forgetting, therefore, the past, avoiding to learn all the lessons of the mistakes made, which the EP rightly recalls, avoiding even more carefully to establish the related responsibilities which the EP pinpoints so clearly and with such severity… are so many omissions which will not guarantee that these same mistakes will never be repeated in the future.  

By way of example, administrative decency would have dictated that in announcing so emphatically the reform of the code of good conduct for EESC members, rather than daring to share with you the merits of these changes, your Secretary-General and former President Jahier should instead make amends for having claimed, wrongly of course, and as the EP quite rightly points out, that such a reform was legally impossible.

Or at least apologise to us for their more than laughable allegations of “bullying EESC members”, being responsible for “misinformation, unsubstantiated, inaccurate and unfair allegations, false information…” simply because we had pointed out that:  

“ Reforming the code of conduct by providing for sanctions that are finally credible has been our request from the outset, as well as that of the European Parliament, inviting the EESC to take into account the recommendations of the European Ombudsman as well as the best practices of other institutions ”.

“ Reforming the code of conduct by providing for sanctions that are finally credible is also what the former President and the administration of the EESC have always refused to do, hiding behind pseudo-legal arguments with the obvious aim of not “disturbing” the members, claiming to make them true legibus soluti, which has provoked the outraged reactions of the European Parliament and external observers ”.    

In short, having asked for exactly the changes that you and your Secretary General are now welcoming, who has obviously been able to overcome his legal fears and doubts, and which, together with the EP, we naturally welcome in our turn. 

« Quisque parat sibi fortunam » :

The EESC is the sole architect of its own fate and the fate of the EESC is primarily in your hands ! 

You should also, Madam President, have carefully avoided allowing your Secretary General and your administration to claim the merits of reforms which they have always opposed and which ONLY the R&D approaches, the OLAF report and the EP decisions have actually imposed. Reforms that the EESC would never have adopted on its own initiative.

OLAF and the EP, which on behalf of my colleagues I would like to thank once again for having finally ensured the recognition of the serious damage suffered by the victims and for having brought to light the responsibilities, omissions and unacceptable failings of the EESC administration.  

Would you agree with us that it is highly regrettable that it took the EP’s injunction once again to:

– reiterate the urgency of reaching agreements with all victims;

– to recall once again the simply indecent character of any request to sign non-disclosure clauses in order to prevent them from also keeping the CONT informed and contravening the duty of transparency;

– to ask once again for a formal and public apology to be made to the victims at last;

– Confirm once again the responsibilities, the omissions, the blatant breach of duty of care towards the victims, and this for several years?

Moreover, it is quite deplorable that it took another intervention by the EP for you to finally take personal responsibility for contacts and discussions with the victims concerned.

Indeed, Madam President, you thought it possible to leave these discussions in the hands of your administration, which you seem to want to rehabilitate at all costs, while the EP once again severely criticised your Secretary General during this latest budget discharge procedure. 

May we note, Madam President, that, as soon as you were elected, you should have immediately drawn the consequences of this absolutely disastrous management, starting by personally and exclusively taking charge of all contact with the victims and in no way delegating this task to your administration, which has been failing for years with, as the EP quite rightly reminds us, always the same person having moved from the crucial role of Director of HR to the even more decisive one of Secretary-General.

An administration that has obviously long since lost all credibility in denying its responsibility, confirmed by the EP, in the wrongs suffered by the victims and never recognised as such; victims to whom, as the EP confirms for the umpteenth time, your administration has refused the slightest support or assistance that they were nevertheless entitled to expect from it from the start.

How can we forget the memorable audition on 3 September 2020 of your HR Director before the CONT Committee?  

Indeed, on that occasion, while repeating by heart the refrain “everything is fine within the EESC and absolutely everything has been done to put in place effective procedures and to protect and assist the victims”, to our great surprise, he had simply forgotten to mention that the victims had received so little assistance and protection that they had been forced to lodge formal complaints to contest the lack of response and follow-up to their requests!

And the result of this audition was that the same CONT Committee subsequently took a very tough stance, denying in toto the assurances given.

How can we forget the solemn declarations of your Secretary General confirming, with all shame, having:    

“ always treated this subject with the utmost importance, both as Secretary General and as Human Resources Director, with a zero tolerance approach ”.

The results of the OLAF investigation showed that, as we had denounced, this so-called “zero tolerance” approach had in fact resulted in a policy of “eyes closed”, “100% tolerance of slippage” and, alas, a policy of “0% protection of victims”.

How can we forget the unbelievable words of former President Jahier, who echoed the “analyses” of your Secretary General and your administration by stating without batting an eyelid:

“ Let me assure you, giving my word to members and staff, that the course of action taken by the EESC and its administration sets the bar at the highest possible level for the protection of dignity at work, in strict compliance with the principles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

 adding, as if this were not already contemptuous and appalling enough, that:

“ Acting as a pioneer among the other institutions, the Committee has continued over the past two years to apply the formal and informal procedure provided for in the internal administrative framework for preventing and dealing with psychological and sexual harassment at work ”.

 « We are always responsible for what we do not try to prevent»

said the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre

To appreciate the extent of the efforts made by your administration you can, Madam President, ask Mr Krawczyk who will certainly confirm again and again that:

“ In all these years, the Secretary General, HR and the EESC administration have never pointed out that my management of staff or my behaviour towards the members of the Group and the EESC were perhaps inappropriate”. 

It will be up to Mr Krawczyk to prove his case in the ongoing proceedings before the Belgian courts to establish any individual criminal responsibility.

« Quousque tandem abutere patientia nostra? »

Nevertheless, we ask you, Madam President, whether the time has not come to examine and determine responsibilities within the EESC:

– Who is going to repair the damage suffered by the Union as a result of your administration’s inaction?

– What measures do you intend to adopt to follow up the EP’s very precise findings concerning responsibilities in the management of this case?

But this deplorable lack of concern for the victims of harassment in your administration is unfortunately not the only criticism levelled at the EESC in the EP’s discharge decision.

Nor is it the only instance in which the EESC would have been better off taking into account our constructive and perfectly valid criticism.

3) Concerning the payment of fees to members for “remote participation”: 

« There is none so blind as he who will not see. 

There is none so deaf as he who will not hear» 

In our note of 15 June 2020, we had already questioned your Secretary General on this subject:

“ …. Is it true that, following the new remote working arrangements resulting from the COVID 19 crisis, the EESC has decided to grant each member an additional allowance of EUR 200 for their IT costs, in addition to the amount already received, for a total of EUR 650? Is it true that this allowance would be paid even after the confinement period? As the EESC is not competent to determine the allowances of Committee members, has the Council been informed? Given that EESC members are appointed to represent their respective organisations, why was it considered appropriate to pay them such an allowance from the Community budget?”

As usual, your Secretary General did not answer any of our legitimate questions. And if we did not insist on obtaining these answers, it is because we already knew, with a high degree of certainty, the pitiful content: “stop… stop bullying EESC members… move along, there is nothing to see, everything is fine, everything is very fine, Madam Marquise”.

In this regard, REPRESENTING IN TOTO OUR ANALYSIS, the EP:

“ regrets that in 2020 the Committee Bureau adopted a decision allowing the reimbursement of costs related to remote participation in cases where a member was prevented from travelling to Brussels in the context of COVID-19; calls on the Committee to reconsider this decision, which is not proportionate to the actual costs of participation, but represents a considerable loss to the EU budget and damages the reputation of the Committee Calls on the Committee to submit a report on the financial impact of this decision, including specific and detailed information on the decision and the reasons for the reimbursement; calls on the Committee to examine new methods of remuneration in order to ensure fair and proportionate treatment of members, which is not based primarily on travel costs and does not depend solely on the physical presence of members in Brussels ”

As we have already stated, the Council has sole competence in this field.

For example, according to press reports, the EESC’s highly controversial spending practices have drawn strong criticism from Council members ( Politico-point Brussels beat )  

Member State representatives blocked a proposal to pay EESC members a daily allowance of EUR 200 for attending… virtual meetings!

The Council rejected this special allowance for participation in a video conference, while many EESC members also receive a regular salary for their work for the EESC.

It might be reassuring for the European taxpayer to note that in the face of such criticism, all of which is perfectly justified, the EESC has promised to change this practice.

We would like to reassure your Secretary General here: the fact that our analyses have thus been taken up in full by the EP and the Council is in no way proof of the political conspiracy that he had denounced, organised by the “wicked wolf” EP and its accomplices, which we are, against the EESC, a poor lost sheep.

Le The fact is that our criticisms were based on an absolutely indisputable fact. 

It goes without saying that, it would have been much better if the EESC had not been forced again, by the EP and the Council in unison, to withdraw forthwith its decision to pay its members such an allowance, which should never have been contemplated at the risk of further tarnishing its already damaged reputation.

4) Concerning the questioning of the independence of the Legal Service

In this regard, in our note of 13 May 2019 to former President Jahier, we had to denounce that:

“Based on the draft organisation chart, the EESC would be the only European institution without a Legal Service! Simply unheard of! …

While the political and administrative environment may give rise to a desire to review the organisation charts, it is important to remember that the essential principles on which our institutional system is based must be respected, including the primacy of European law in our institutional system and the necessary independence of the Legal Service.

However, while the Commission was planning to place the Legal Service under the authority of the General Secretariat, the EESC’s draft organisation chart would simply abolish it, making the EESC the only institution without a legal service.

A reorganisation to get rid of any obstacle that could oppose an administration that is increasingly self-referential and allergic to any criticism?”.

Three years later, however, the situation does not seem to have been definitively clarified, requiring the EP to ask again and again:

“…Committee to provide its legal service with a formal working strategy to ensure that it is formally and systematically involved in the Committee’s most important issues without the decision to consult it or not being left to the individual services; considers that the answers received to questions in this regard are insufficient and calls on the Committee to report back to Parliament on what has been done to include its legal service in a more systematic and independent way ”.

5) Let us now turn to the recruitment procedures, the new drawer of the case against the EESC administration

In this regard, the European Parliament takes the trouble to state:

“…deeply concerned about the public unease about certain recruitment procedures employed by the Committee; calls on the Committee to develop clear internal guidelines for the publication of vacancies, including a clear explanation of the service interest in the case of temporary transfers of staff; Stresses the importance of strictly ensuring that each stage of the recruitment process (publication, selection, appointment and establishment) is carried out in a transparent manner, without exception, as provided for in the Committee’s Rules of Procedure and the Staff Regulations, in order to avoid any risk to the reputation not only of the Committee but also of all EU bodies ”

No need for a crystal ball to imagine that the response of your administration and your Secretary General to this legitimate concern, as with all the other procedures organised by the EESC, will be that the recruitment procedures are above suspicion, and of course, only malicious and dishonest minds such as ours and those of certain jealous parliamentarians could criticise them, given that they are irreproachable and exemplary. 

6) Let us also come to the sham “procedure” for the reclassification of Temporary Agents, the latest in a series of files against the EESC administration

If the appointments to the EESC arouse the unease of public opinion and the concern of the EP, the “procedure” for the reclassification of TAs has aroused the anger of the Court … which, no doubt, in the eyes of your Secretary General and your administration, would be a new actor who has come to contribute to the above-mentioned political plot.

The very recent judgment in case T-843/19 delivered by the Court on 28 April 2021 (read), states the illegality of the “procedure” for the reclassification of Temporary Agents in that it MISSED ALL, one after the other, the fundamental principles of our Staff Regulations! 

Never before seen in an EU institution or a public administration worthy of the name!

Let us welcome here, as with the refusal of the 2018 discharge, another unprecedented feat to be credited to your ailing institution.

We leave the floor to the Court, which found that:

– “ The EESC has not adopted any decision on the reclassification of temporary agents. There is therefore no binding text or any other document specifying the elements of analysis on the basis of which these agents may be reclassified or the link that may exist between the system for evaluating temporary agents set up by the EESC and the possibilities of reclassification or the guarantees surrounding the examination of individual situations before decisions are taken in this field” ;

– With regard to the reclassification of temporary staff, the EESC has not put in place the elements of analysis to allow a comparison of merits which would respect the principle of equal treatment”;

– “ The practice followed in this field by the EESC does not therefore guarantee that reclassification proposals are drawn up on a common basis by all heads of unit and group presidents and that the decisions of the Secretary-General as CPA respect the principle of equal treatment ”;

– “ This lack of analysis is all the more questionable in that, as noted in point 40 above, reclassification decisions are not published within the EESC in accordance with the third paragraph of Article 25 of the Staff Regulations, which also fails to respect the principle of legal certainty ”;

– “ In this respect, it should be recalled that the obligation of transparency is the corollary of the principle of equal treatment, since it is intended to guarantee an adequate degree of publicity to enable the impartiality and absence of arbitrariness on the part of the administration to be checked (see, to this effect and by analogy, judgment of 15 April 2011, IPK International v Commission, T 297/05, EU:T:2011:185, paragraph 124)”;

– “ It follows that the EESC’s failure to publish reclassification decisions is not only contrary to the provisions of the Staff Regulations, but also liable to prejudice the rights of temporary staff attached to the secretariats of the various EESC groups, in that it prevents the administration from monitoring impartiality during a reclassification exercise ”.

In particular, having regard to paragraph 69 of the judgment, you might usefully ask Mr Krawczyk, then Chairman of Group 1, and your Secretary General to answer the Court’s question and to explain HOW and ON WHAT BASIS they were able to carry out this comparison of merits:

“ It should be noted that the EESC describes the way in which the 2019 reclassification exercise was organised, but only evasively specifies the method used by the AECC to compare the merits of temporary agents applying for reclassification. Indeed, the explanations given by the EESC do not make it possible to determine either in what way or on what basis the AECC, or even the President of Group I, actually carried out this comparison of merits on the basis of elements of analysis reflecting the structure, needs and specific organisation of the EESC (see, to that effect and by analogy, judgment of 8 November 2018, RA v Court of Auditors, T 874/16, not published, EU:T:2018:757, paragraph 57) ”. 

Should your Secretary General and Mr. Krawczyk have to explain that the “procedure” implemented, while violating all the principles of our Staff Regulations as noted by the Court, would nevertheless have allowed for a balanced career development of colleagues assigned to Group 1, largely based on seniority in the grade, it is appropriate to let the Court have its say again: 

         “However, the application of the criterion of four years’ seniority for the reclassification of temporary staff, like the application of the principle of equal treatment, which the EESC is trying to rely on (see paragraph 53 above), is not apparent from the comparative table drawn up by the applicant. Indeed, that table shows the existence of significant differences as regards the rate of reclassification between different temporary agents attached to the secretariats of the three EESC groups. By way of example, as regards Group I, to which the applicant is attached, it follows from that table that one member of temporary staff advanced by three grades (from AST 2 to AST 5) in barely two years, whereas another member of staff obtained a comparable advancement (from AST 3 to AD 6) in almost six years (…)”.

The “mystery”… oh so exciting… of the DATE of the decision adopted by your Secretary General…

At the same time, you could, just as usefully, ask your Secretary General to answer the real “mystery” which, on reading the judgment, has excited us so much, namely THE DATE on which he as AHCC adopted these reclassification proposals.  

Indeed, the undoubtedly exemplary rigour of the “procedure” implemented by the EESC was such that not only is it not possible to grasp how and on what basis the comparative analysis of the merits would have been carried out, but, incredible as it may seem, the DATE on which your Secretary General adopted the reclassification proposals, WAS ALSO UNKNOWN, not only to our colleague, but …ALSO to the EESC:

“ However, since it is common ground that the decisions on the reclassification of temporary staff taken by the Secretary-General were not published in accordance with the third paragraph of Article 25 of the Staff Regulations, and since the EESC stated during the audition that the date of adoption of the Secretary-General’s decision as CCEA on the reclassification proposals contained in the e-mail of 15 March 2019 was unknown to it, the applicant was even less able to know when the contested decision was taken. The EESC cannot therefore validly argue that the applicant would have had useful knowledge of that decision by 26 March 2019 at the latest, so that the complaint was not out of time ”.

To justify such a “practice”, not surprisingly, the EESC invoked the now well-known argument of the “political nature” of the groups so widely invoked throughout this painful saga. The Court therefore had to recall:  

“ Furthermore, it is sufficient to note that, insofar as this provision, read in conjunction with the first paragraph of Article 16 of the CEOS, provides for a system of promotion based on merit, in particular for temporary agents assigned to Parliament’s political groups, which are political groups par excellence, the EESC is not justified in arguing that the political nature of the groups of which it is composed prevents it from having a system for comparing the merits of temporary agents assigned to the said groups ”

We do not dare to anticipate the motivations that your administration and your Secretary General will not fail to give you to justify the “procedure” that allowed him, as AHCC, to sign these reclassification decisions under such conditions and for such a long time.

In this respect, in keeping with our constructive spirit, we would like to note that the Court recalled that:

“ It should be noted, however, that the constraints invoked by the EESC are not, as such, specific to the structure and organisation of the secretariats of these groups, nor are they insurmountable, and cannot be considered such as to prevent the introduction of clear, objective and transparent elements of comparative analysis in the context of the exercise of reclassification of temporary agents, making it possible to ensure compliance with the principles of legal certainty and equal treatment ”

Of course, it is still necessary to ensure compliance with the principles of legal certainty and equal treatment…and perhaps even to fully understand their scope?

For our part, we try to explain: could it be that this was a new example of the manifest resignation of your administration in the face of its duties and obligations, in order not to “confuse” the presidencies of the political groups with standards of fairness, in order to allow them to decide in complete opacity on the fate and career of the staff entrusted to them, and to allow them to enjoy the ” prince’s deed “? 

Under these conditions, it is not surprising to us that the characteristic symptom of administrative decay, namely moral harassment and the individual and collective suffering of staff crushed by their working conditions, should occur, as has been observed, without the administration being able to prevent, avoid and put an end to it by adopting the necessary measures. 

It should be recalled that the Court’s judgment of 12 May 2016 (Case F-50/15 FS v EESC), had already referred to an investigation report within the EESC which stated that not only “the management style of Mr K. did not fully correspond, in certain respects, to the administrative culture of the European public service” but also that “it would be desirable for the EESC administration to envisage a mechanism … to familiarise the EESC Groups’ ACHAs with the essential principles and rules of the Union’s administrative culture, as well as with the main problems which arise ”.

The judgment that has just been handed down shows how effective the follow-up to this recommendation has been, even though, as the EP rightly points out, this 2016 judgment should have served as a lesson to the EESC.

We take the liberty of noting that, in view of this new judgment, it would be advisable to familiarise the CTAs also with the basic principles of our Statute, while hoping that you will take this opportunity to ensure a somewhat more effective follow-up to this new judgment than that handed down in 2016.  

THE EESC NEEDS REAL AND PROFOUND REFORMS
More than ever: FACTA NON VERBA !

We would like to remind you, Madam President, that it is up to you, again and again, to personally ensure that the EESC FINALLY and DEFINITELY turns the page, by carrying out the profound reforms that are also necessary with regard to its administration, its procedures, its practices…, by declaring the end of the O Régime to prove to everyone that the European Economic and Social Committee is NOT “the zombie that has lost its mission but is still alive” nor “an expensive relic of a bygone era”, as described by many observers outside the Institutions.

For R&D, there can be no question of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” by making the whole institution and its staff pay for unforgivable mistakes of which colleagues are the first victims.

In this effort of renewal, we appeal only to you, expecting nothing more from your administration.

Indeed, we must never forget that it is these mistakes, which have become unforgivable because of the arrogant claim of some to never be accountable to anyone for their actions, that have brought the EESC into disrepute, thus playing into the hands of the enemies of the European project and of our civil service. And certainly not the criticisms sung in unison by R&D, OLAF, the European Parliament, the Council of the Union, the Court

Copy:

Mr Brunetti, Secretary General of the EESC

Mr Mallia, President of Group I at the EESC

Mr Röpke, President of Group II at the EESC

Mr Boland, President of Group III at the EESC

Mr Krawczyk, EESC Member

EESC Members

Mr Guillard, EESC HR Director

Mr Sassoli, EP President

Ms Hohlmeier, President, Ms, Mr Vice-Presidents, and Members of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament

Mr Olivier Chastel, rapporteur for the EESC’s 2019 discharge

Ms O’Reilly, European Ombudsman

Mr Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Secretary General of the Council of the EU

Ms Juhansone, Secretary General of the European Commission

Mr Itälä, Director General of OLAF

Ms Nicolaie, Director IDOC

Staff of the Institutions

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* Emphasis added

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