Language of document : ECLI:EU:F:2013:78

ORDER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION CIVIL SERVICE TRIBUNAL

(Single Judge)

18 June 2013

Case F‑98/11

Bernard Jargeac and Others

v

European Commission

(Civil service — Remuneration — Family allowances — Education allowance — Conditions for granting — Deduction of an allowance of like nature paid from other sources — Application partly manifestly inadmissible and partly manifestly unfounded)

Application:      under Article 270 TFEU, applicable to the EAEC Treaty by virtue of Article 106a thereof, by Mr Jargeac, Mr Aliaga Artero, Mr Charrière, Mr Clarke, Ms Domingues, Ms Hughes, Mr Lanneluc and Mr Zein, (‘the first eight applicants’) who seek, firstly, annulment of the European Commission’s decision to deduct the amount of certain financial support for higher education, provided to their children by the centre for documentation and information on higher education of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, from the education allowance paid to officials under the Staff Regulations, on the basis that it was an allowance of like nature, and, secondly, annulment of the Commission’s decisions to instigate the procedure for recovery of undue payments. In addition Mr Finch seeks annulment of the Commission’s decision requiring him to inform it whether the centre had provided financial support to his child, and suspending payment of the education allowance from 1 January 2010 until provision of that information.

Held:      Mr Finch’s application is dismissed as manifestly inadmissible. The application of Mr Jargeac, Mr Aliaga Artero, Mr Charrière, Mr Clarke, Ms Domingues, Ms Hughes, Mr Lanneluc and Mr Zein is dismissed as manifestly devoid of any basis in law. Mr Jargeac and the eight other officials or former officials whose names appear in the annex are to bear their own costs and are ordered to pay those incurred by the European Commission.

Summary

1.      Commission — Exercise of implementing powers — Delegation of authority to sign — Lawfulness — Conditions

(Rules of Procedure of the Commission, Art. 27)

2.      Officials — Remuneration — Family allowances — Education allowance — Applicability of the rule against overlapping allowance laid down in Article 67(2) of the Staff Regulations in relation to allowances of like nature paid from other sources — Rule having been applied to financial support provided by Luxembourg to students — Lawfulness

(Staff Regulations, Arts 67(1)(c) and (2))

3.      Officials — Recovery of undue payments — Reliance on lack of awareness of an overpayment by an official who had failed to declare allowances of like nature to European Union family allowances — Not permissible

(Staff Regulations, Arts 67(2) and 85; Annex VII Arts. 1 to 3)

1.      In relation to decisions signed by an official in the name of the Commission and under its supervision, the delegation of authority to sign constitutes a measure relating to the internal organisation of the departments of the Commission, conforming to its internal regulations, and is the usual means by which the Commission exercises its powers.

In European Union law, a delegation of implementing powers is lawful provided that it is not formally prohibited by any legislative provision. The same must be true, a fortiori, of a mere delegation of authority to sign.

(see paras 38-39)

See:

17 October 1972, 8/72 Vereeniging van Cementhandelaren v Commission, paras 10 to 14; 17 January 1984, 43/82 and 63/82 VBVB and VBBB v Commission, para. 14; 11 October 1990, C‑200/89 FUNOC v Commission, paras 13 and 14

6 December 1994, T‑450/93 Lisrestal and Others v Commission, para. 34; 14 May 1998, T‑338/94 Finnboard v Commission, para. 82; 18 October 2001, T‑333/99 X v BCE, para. 102 and the case-law cited; 13 July 2006, T‑165/04 v Commission, para. 49

2.      Only allowances which are comparable and have the same purpose are ‘of like nature’ for the purposes of the rule against overlapping allowances laid down in Article 67(2) of the Staff Regulations concerning family allowances. The decisive criterion in classifying allowances as of like nature is the aim pursued by the allowances in question.

The education allowance provided for in Article 67(1)(c) of the Staff Regulations has aims similar to those of the Luxembourg benefit, which takes the form of grants and loans, and is intended to provide students with financial assistance so as to enable them to meet the costs of their studies, and the costs of their maintenance during their studies, in that both are intended to contribute to the educational costs of the child who is in the official’s care.

This conclusion is not affected by the fact that the beneficiaries of the two allowances are not the same. The allowance provided for by the Staff Regulations is payable to the official, whereas the State benefit is payable to the child, or formally ascribed to the child, but this is not decisive in assessing whether they are of the same nature within the meaning of Article 67(2) of the Staff Regulations. Similarly, the fact that, in contrast to the education allowance payable under the Staff Regulations, the state allowance is granted on the basis of residence within the State, and is not attached to an employment relationship, is not decisive.

(see paras 48-50)

See:

13 October 1977, 106/76 Gelders-Deboeck v Commission, para. 16; 13 October 1977, 14/77 Emer-van den Branden v Commission, para. 15; 18 December 2007, C‑135/06 P Weiβenfels v Parliament, para. 89

10 May 1990, T‑117/89 Sens v Commission, para. 14; 11 June 1996, T‑147/95 Pavan v Parliament, para. 41

13 February 2007, F‑62/06 Guarneri v Commission, paras 39, 40 and 42; 5 June 2012, F‑83/10 Giannakouris v Commission, para. 37; 5 June 2012, F‑84/10 Chatzidoukakis v Commission, para. 37

3.      Where there is a breach of the obligation to declare State allowances of the same nature received from other sources, an official receiving family allowances may not rely on Article 85 of the Staff Regulations, claiming to be unaware of an overpayment.

Article 67(2) of the Staff Regulations must be interpreted as meaning that it is for the institutions to determine whether or not the allowances declared by officials or other servants in pursuance of the obligation which it lays down and the family allowances paid under Articles 1, 2 and 3 of Annex VII to the Staff Regulations are of like nature.

(see paras 59-61)

See:

6 March 1996, T‑141/95 Schelbeck v Parliament, paras 38 and 39