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Decision in case 726/2016/PMC concerning the Council of the European Union paying trainees an amount less than the minimum wage

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  • Case: 726/2016/PMC
    Opened on 24 May 2016 - Decision on 29 Sep 2016
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Council
  • Field(s) of law: General, financial and institutional matters
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Requests for information [Article 22 ECGAB]
  • Subject matter(s): Dealing with requests for information and access to documents (Transparency),Administration and Staff Regulations

A former trainee at the Council of the European Union complained that the allowance paid by EU institutions to its trainees is inappropriate, as it is below the minimum wage and thus does not guarantee trainees a decent standard of living.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the matter. She found that the Council had explained in a sufficiently detailed way how the amount of the traineeship allowance is determined. The Ombudsman found that the decision to pay an allowance, equivalent to 25% of the salary of an official at the AD5.1 grade, wasreasonable. The Council took this decision acting within the margin of its discretion, based on its administrative needs and the available budget.

The Ombudsman noted that the Council distinguishes between traineeships and employment. Therefore, a trainee receives an allowance and not a salary, because the rights and obligations of a trainee are not comparable to those of a member of staff. The Ombudsman considered the Council’s explanation to be reasonable.

Therefore, she closed the case with the finding that the Council’s practice did not constitute maladministration.