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“Picard” appeal – a new victory under USL impetus in favor of Contractual Agents

But vigilance is still required….

On December 15, 2022, the Court of Justice of the EU (Second Chamber) annulled the judgment of the General Court of the EU of March 24, 2021, the response of the PMO of January 4, 2016 as well as the decision of the DG RH of 25 July 2016 and decided that Maxime Picard, contract agent of the Commission since 2008 who changed contract after the entry into force of the 2014 Staff Regulations should be subject to the rate of acquisition of pension rights (1.9%) and the retirement age (64 years and 8 months) corresponding to the conditions in force on the date of his entry into service (Statute 2004).
A legal saga of about 8 years ended with a great victory for Maxime and for Union Syndicale Luxembourg, joined in appeal by other unions, which supported them in their just fight for the benefit of contract agents.

Brief summary of the case

Maxime Picard started his career at the Commission in 2008 as a GF I contract agent at PMO Luxembourg. Under the Staff Regulations in force at the time (2004 Staff Regulations), he benefited from an accumulation of pension rights at the rate of 1.9% per year and a retirement age of 64 years and 8 months. .
In May 2014, the Commission offered him a new contract as contract agent FG II, without changing his assignment. A new Statute entered into force in January 2014, providing for a lower pension accrual rate of 1.8% per year and a delayed retirement age of 66.
In doubt, in January 2016 Maxime asked for explanations from the manager of the “Pensions” sector of the PMO, who replied that his pension rights had changed due to the change in contract, and had therefore become less favourable.
Faced with this injustice, Maxime – advised and assisted by the USL – lodged a complaint under Article 90, par. 2 of the Statute. The DG HR rejected this complaint primarily as inadmissible for lack of “act adversely affecting” and, in the alternative, as unfounded.

Proceedings before the Tribunal

With the financial assistance and support of Union Syndicale Luxembourg, – then alone in supporting the case – Maxime brought an action before the Court seeking the annulment of the PMO’s response and, insofar as necessary, of the decision rejecting his complaint (T-769/16).
However, around the same time, a similar case was to be judged, this time concerning a temporary agent (T-128/17, Torné v Commission). The Court suspended Maxime’s case pending the “Torné” judgment. However, in this case, the Tribunal ruled in favor of the temporary agent and confirmed that his pension rights should continue to be calculated according to the provisions of the Staff Regulations in force on the date of his first entry into service (pre-2014), even though Ms Torné had been appointed to another agency after the entry into force of the 2014 Staff Regulations.

When the Picard case resumed, we were unexpectedly confronted with a different interpretation: the Court considered that if the “analogy” mentioned by the “transitional provisions” could be retained for a temporary agent, it was not justified for a contract agent! The Court therefore dismissed Maxime’s appeal.

Appeal to the Court of Justice of the EU

Union Syndicale Luxembourg, in partnership now with the other unions of the Alliance, the Rassemblement Syndical and Generation 2004, continued to support Maxime in his appeal to the Court of Justice of the EU.
In July 2022, the conclusions of the Advocate General gave a glimpse of hope: indeed, he considered that the interpretation that the Court had made of the word “analogy” of the transitional provisions was questionable. By reinterpreting the facts of the dispute in context, he concluded that Maxime’s action was admissible and, above all, that the legislator had intended to apply the transitional provisions to all staff, without distinction between civil servants and “other officers”. Therefore, he considered, as Maxime had argued, and unlike the Court, that the argument which should prevail was the continuity of affiliation to the pension scheme.

By its judgment of December 15, the Court of Justice of the EU followed the conclusions of the Advocate General and considered, in paragraph 81 of judgment C-366/21-P, that the General Court had erred in law . It also annulled judgment T-769/16, the response from the manager of the “Pensions” sector of the PMO as well as the decision of the DG RH rejecting Maxime’s complaint.

USL requests the application of the Picard Jurisprudence to the other agents concerned, and this in all the Institutions.

It is clear that dozens of contract agents finding themselves in a similar situation, expect a regularization identical to that decided by the European Court of Justice for the Picard case.

However, as administrative information from the Commission is slow to emerge, the contract agents concerned are worried about it! Well Named ?
In order to avoid an inflation of costly and unnecessary litigation aimed at applying the Picard case law, the USL appeals to the Commission and the other Institutions – on the basis of the principle of good administrative management – and as was the case several years ago in the Alexopoulou case, where after some hesitation the condemned Commission decided to automatically apply the content of the judgment to all the staff affected.

While waiting for a rapid regularization, let us remain vigilant for a generalized application of this important case law!

  • I. Who can benefit from our legal assistance? What areas are covered?

    To all staff of the EU Institutions and in particular to members. Family members of EU staff are also eligible.

    This legal assistance is therefore almost universal in terms of both its recipients and its scope: the field of the European civil service but also civil and common law.

    II. Legal assistance, advice and representation: how to access them?

    It occurs at several levels and degrees of intensity, throughout one’s working life and even beyond, when one is retired.

    a. At the Political Secretariat

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    N.B.: Both services are free and universal, all EU staff have access to them.

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    If an Art. 90 claim or an appeal to the CFI or the Court of Justice of the EU has to be undertaken, USL members are entitled to financial support from USL up to 100% of the cost if it is a case of general interest to act (Document Assistance juridique FR).

    Union Syndicale invests about EUR 30,000 annually from its own funds. Sometimes dramatic cases, such as the dismissal of colleagues, were won, including the case of a colleague from Eastern Europe who was wrongfully dismissed by the European Parliament, and others concerning promotions and statutory rights of all kinds.

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Judgments and case law

Maxime Picard v European Commission

Staff cases – Contract staff – Reform of the 2014 Staff Regulations – Transitional measures relating to certain methods of calculating pension rights – Change of scheme following the signing of a new contract as a member of the contract staff – Concept of ‘being in service

Case T-769/16

The judgment of the Court of First Instance in Maxime Picard v European Commission (T-769/16) subtly dissociates the Staff Regulations from the Conditions of Employment.

The applicant had been engaged as a contract agent for the first time in 2008 on the basis of an EPSO/CAST/25/05 GF I selection. However, the applicant was also a successful candidate in the EPSO/CAST/27/07 GF II selection, for which a minimum of three years’ professional experience had to be documented. The applicant had not documented this experience at the time of his first recruitment, which is why he was recruited on the basis of CAST/25/05.

At the end of 2012 the applicant produced certificates from his former employers documenting the experience required for CAST/27/07. This new element was accepted and recognised by the European Commission and had the effect that it proceeded not by reclassification, but by terminating the initial contract (AC GF I) and by proposing on 16 May 2014 a new contract on the basis of CAST/27/07 GF II.

This interruption of the contract had the effect that the new statutory provisions (which came into force on 1 January 2014) applied, despite the fact that the tasks were identical for both contracts and therefore did not presuppose an interruption of the contract but rather a reclassification as had been requested in the past by the applicant.

One of the Court’s conclusions was that a new contract had been put in place and signed by the applicant and that there was therefore an interruption and not continuity. The Court of First Instance reasoned that the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants (CEOS) are not identical to the Staff Regulations and therefore that the judgment in Torné v European Commission (T-128/17) would not be applicable by analogy since they are two separate schemes.


« Fonction publique – Rémunération – Allocations familiales – Allocation pour enfant à charge – Double allocation pour enfant à charge – Article 67, paragraphe 3, du statut – Conditions d’octroi – Solution à l’amiable entre les parties suite à l’intervention du Médiateur européen – Mise en œuvre – Devoir de sollicitude »

Note résumée de l’arrêt



Meeting with Services

The union has been very active in defending the working conditions of inspectors.

With the help of negotiation and relentless monitoring of the files, it was able to obtain an agreement for a system of recovery of hours worked on nights, weekends and public holidays. At the General Assembly of 28 January 2008, the Nuclear Inspectors signed a petition concerning their working conditions with an 80% participation rate. (pdf de la pétition)

Following this petition, Union Syndicale initiated a dialogue with DG ENER. This consultation led to several significant decisions concerning the recognition of their work under ionising radiation. Adaptations in terms of mission expenses and time accounting in the flexitime relating to the frequent missions they carry out in all EU countries.

Since the beginning of 2013, a new consultation process specific to the arduous working conditions to which nuclear inspectors are subjected has begun, with the creation of a working group in which Union Syndicale’s elected representatives are actively participating. We will keep you informed of the latest developments and progress on this issue.