EUROMIL: EU General Court Ruling Disappoints EPSU and Weakens European Social Dialogue
On 24 October 2019, the EU General Court released a ruling in the case of the European Public Service Union (EPSU) vs. the European Commission. The Court concluded that the European Commission’s right of initiative means that it can decide on whether or not to make social partner agreements legally binding in all EU member states.
In December 2015, European trade unions led by EPSU reached an agreement with the European Commission stating that all workers in central or federal governments should enjoy the same EU information and consultation rights on restructuring as in the private sector, as previous EU directives excluded public administration from these rights.
In February 2016, unions and employers jointly asked the European Commission to forward the agreement to the European Council to be adopted. With a delay of more than two years, the European Commission answered that it would not forward the agreement to the Council based mainly on reasons of subsidiarity, i.e. the principle that the European Union should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level.
EPSU filed the case in May 2018, asking the EU General Court to annul the decision of the European Commission. In the view of EPSU, it is exactly because central government administrations are diverse that the principle of subsidiarity does not apply, and the EU directive is needed to ensure common minimum standards.
The ruling highly disappointed EPSU, which is now studying it carefully and deciding about the next steps.
Even if EUROMIL is not a partner at the European Social Dialogue, the organisation has reasons to be disappointed with this ruling: “If the European Commission can ignore agreements made between the representatives of the employers and the employees in the framework of the European social dialogue in sectors where trade union rights and collective agreements are common practice, we have reasons to be afraid how the Commission deals with workers who are not enjoying these same fundamental rights, meaning about half of European military personnel. Therefore, EUROMIL underlines once again the importance for military personnel to be able to enjoy full trade union rights and be treated as citizens in uniform!” EUROMIL’s President Emmanuel Jacob argued.
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