Language of document : ECLI:EU:F:2016:73

JUDGMENT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION CIVIL SERVICE TRIBUNAL

(Second Chamber)

11 April 2016

Case F‑94/15

Oren Wolff

v

European External Action Service (EEAS)

(Civil service — EEAS staff — Staff Committee — Election of the Staff Committee members — Validity — Fifth paragraph of Article 1 of Annex II to the Staff Regulations — EEAS electoral regulations — First round of voting — Quorum not reached — Extension of the voting period — Supplementary extension of the voting period — Failure to organise a second round of voting — Unlawfulness)

Application:      under Article 270 TFEU, applicable to the EAEC Treaty pursuant to Article 106a thereof, in which Mr Oren Wolff seeks annulment of the decision of 23 April 2015 by which the European External Action Service (EEAS) rejected his request challenging the validity of the result of the elections of members of the Staff Committee.

Held:      The decision of 23 April 2015 by which the European External Action Service rejected Mr Oren Wolff’s request seeking that the result of the elections of the members of the Staff Committee be deemed invalid is annulled. The European External Action Service is to bear its own costs and is ordered to pay the costs incurred by Mr Wolff.

Summary

Officials — Representation — Staff Committee — Elections — European External Action Service (EEAS) — Quorum required at the end of the first round not reached — Obligation to organise a second round of voting — Supplementary extension of the voting period for the first round of voting, without holding a second round — Unlawfulness

(Staff Regulations, Art. 9, and Annex II, Art. 1, fifth para.)

The Staff Regulations make no provision in either Article 9 or Annex II for the method by which the Staff Committee is to be elected. Consequently, general assemblies of officials enjoy considerable autonomy in determining the method for electing staff committees, provided that the method chosen is not such as to infringe the principles of democracy or fairness. The European External Action Service (EEAS) thus has electoral regulations which were adopted after consultation of its staff and which contain precise rules on how the rounds of voting must be conducted and on the duration of the voting periods.

In that regard, it is clear from Article 17 of the electoral regulations that the electoral office is obliged to organise a second round of voting if, at the end of the first round, the quorum of two thirds of the electors has not been reached.

It also follows from Articles 14 and 17 of the electoral regulations that, once the electoral office has set the starting date of the voting period for the first round of voting, it no longer has any leeway to determine the duration of that period and any extensions. Article 14 of the electoral regulations makes provision for only one — automatic — extension of the initial 10-day voting period for the first round of voting. Article 17 of the electoral regulations clearly requires that a second round of voting be organised without delay where a quorum of two thirds of electors has not been reached in the first round, rendering the first round invalid.

It is therefore not for the electoral office to envisage, contrary to Article 14 of the electoral regulations, a second extension of the voting period in connection with the first round of voting, if it is not to render Article 17 of the electoral regulations nugatory.

Such an extension of the first round of voting beyond the periods provided for in the electoral regulations also infringes the fifth paragraph of Article 1 of Annex II to the Staff Regulations, which provides that, where the quorum of two thirds of those entitled to vote is not reached at the end of the first round of voting, a second round must be organised, for which a reduced quorum, that is, a simple majority of electors, applies.

As regards the fact that the first extension of the voting period coincided with a holiday period, the electoral office could not have been unaware, when it set the starting date for the first round of voting, that that automatic extension period of 10 calendar days would include a week of holiday likely to affect the electoral turnout.

(see paras 30-34, 36)

See:

Judgments of 14 July 1998 in Lebedef v Commission, T‑192/96, EU:T:1998:162, para. 70, and 22 April 2004 in Schintgen v Commission, T‑343/02, EU:T:2004:111, para. 39

Judgment of 1 October 2013 in Loukakis and Others v Parliament, F‑82/11, EU:F:2013:139, para. 63