Damaging ruling on how the Commission should handle EU social partner agreements

Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued its verdict on the case EPSU (the European Federation of Public Service Unions) brought against the European Commission (case C-928/19P).

The case concerned the Commission’s unprecedented refusal to bring forward a social partner agreement to the Council for decision based on the interpretation of Article 155.2 TFEU.

EPSU argued that when the social partners are representative, when they jointly request so and when the content of their agreement is legal, the Commission must transform the agreement into a directive for Council to decide upon. This is based upon 25 years of practice and several Commission communications on the subject. 

Pending a full analysis of the verdict, the Court’s press release indicates the Advocate-General’s public opinion has been upheld.

It states that the Commission has full discretion to do what it wants with social partner agreements.

This means the Commission can make a political judgement as to whether a social partner agreement fits in its agenda or to give in to pressure from some governments to not bring an agreement to the Council for a majority decision.

The ultimate result is twofold:

Firstly, it denies nearly ten million civil servants and workers in public administrations the same EU legal protection of information and consultation rights as other workers.  

Secondly, it challenges the autonomy of social partners and leaves them in legal uncertainty regarding their future agreements.

To read the rest of the press release “Damaging ruling on how the Commission should handle EU social partner agreements”, click here.