Action brought on 4 September 2006 - Arpaillange and Others v Commission

(Case F-104/06)

Language of the case: French

Parties

Applicants: Joséphine Arpaillange (Santiago do Chile, Chile) and Others (represented by: S. Rodrigues and C. Bernard-Glanz, lawyers)

Defendant: Commission of the European Communities

Form of order sought by the applicants

The applicants claim that the Court should:

annul the decisions of the authority authorised to conclude contracts stipulating the applicants' conditions of employment, as set out in their contracts as contract staff, on the ground that the number of years of professional experience recognised in their cases by the authority authorised to conclude contracts is less than the number of years' professional experience actually acquired by the applicants;

give the authority authorised to conclude contracts directions as to the effects of the annulment of the contested decisions, and particularly the regrading of the applicants in the grade and step which take account of their actual professional experience and of their seniority as individual experts;

convert, if appropriate, the applicants' contracts into contracts for an unlimited period;

order the defendant to pay the applicants the difference between the salary corresponding to the grade and step in which they were placed and the salary corresponding to the grade and step in which they should have been placed, with interest for delay in payment;

in the alternative, order the defendant, first, to compensate the applicants for the loss they suffered, in terms of loss of income, because of their passage from the status of individual expert to that of contract staff, by the payment of a monthly compensatory allowance and, second, to pay to the applicants the difference between the salary which they have received since taking up their duties as contract staff and the salary plus the aforementioned allowance, with interest for delay in payment;

order the defendant to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

The applicants, after having worked for several years in Commission delegations outside the Community with the status of individual experts, were recruited with the status of contract staff, following the disappearance of the other status.

At the time of the applicants' grading, the Commission recognised them as having less professional experience than that which they submit they had actually gained, and, in any event, less than that which they were recognised as having acquired at the time of their recruitment as individual experts.

In support of their action, the applicants plead breach of the Conditions of employment of other servants of the European Communities ('Conditions of Employment') on the ground that Article 2 of the General Provisions for Implementing the procedures governing the engagement and the employment of contract staff of 7 April 2004 ('GPI') imposes a requirement for the engagement of contract staff - one year of appropriate professional experience - which is not required by Article 82 of the Conditions of Employment.

Furthermore, the applicants submit that, at the time of the evaluation of their professional experience, the Commission infringed the principles of legal certainty and the protection of legitimate expectations, was in breach of the duty to have regard for the interests of officials and made a manifest error of assessment.

Next, the applicants plead infringement of the principles of equal treatment and of non-discrimination on the grounds; first, that the GPI provide that staff having nearly 20 years of experience are graded in the same grade as staff having no more than seven years' experience; second, that contract staff covered by Article 3a of the Conditions of Employment, such as the applicants, and those covered by Article 3b of the Conditions of Employment are treated differently, in terms of possible grading on recruitment, and of developing their professional experience and career, whereas their situation is comparable; third, that compensation for loss of income, such as that which is provided for former local staff has not been provided for former individual experts.

Finally, the applicants allege breach of the principle of respect for vested rights, because of, first, a consequent reduction in their salary for identical duties and, second, the failure to take into account the years for which they had worked with the status of individual experts for the purposes of their grading in step and for the purposes of the conversion of their contracts as contract staff for a limited period into contracts for a fixed term.

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