Continuing the on-going saga over the matter of whether or not the President of the Council swears an oath, in response to my last email the following has been received (the previous posts, in chronological order, can be read here, here and here):
We acknowledge receipt of your new message of 17/03/2014 to the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.
It is indeed foreseen in Article 245, second subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that the Members of the Commission shall give a solemn undertaking to respect, both during and after their term of office, the obligations arising from their duties and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits. Those are obligations deriving directly from the Treaties, cf. Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 245 TFEU. Any breach of those obligations may lead to compulsory retirement or deprival of pension rights or other benefits in accordance with the procedures foreseen in the Treaty (i.e. decision by the Court of Justice on application by the Council or the Commission). In that respect it is noted that the solemn declaration is traditionally made before the European Court of Justice.
As regards the President of the European Council, his role and responsibilities are defined in Article 15 TEU. Reference is also made to Articles 235 and 236 TFEU which relate to the European Council as an institution. The Treaties do not foresee that the President of the European Council shall give a solemn undertaking. It goes without saying that this has no impact on his legal obligation to carry out his duties in full respect of the obligations arising therefrom. The Treaty provides that the European Council may end the term of office of the President of the European Council in the event of an impediment or serious misconduct.
As matters have not progressed to the point that a satisfactory response has been received, the following has been sent:
I refer to your latest email, in what is becoming a long-running saga, on the question of whether or not the President of the Council swears an oath on taking office.
First, I am a tad bemused by the fact that in your email of 11th March you referred me to the European Commission in respect of the President of that body, yet in this latest email you provide the information originally requested. This begs the question of why the referral was made in the first place, when you could have answered the question – but I digress.
I have referred to Articles 15 and 17 TEU and Articles 235, 236 and 245 TFEU. It would appear that both the President of the Commission and the President of the Council are under similar obligations – yet the former is required to swear an oath while the latter is not.
It is also noted that you revert to the word ‘foresee’ in your latest response. I was under the impression that the use of this word had been ‘put to bed’ as nothing more than obfuscation on your part. So why do you raise it again?
To repeat my earlier question, why is it required of one President to swear an oath and not the other? Do they not both hold the title of President and are they therefore not of equal standing and with equal responsibilities and obligations? You state: ‘It goes without saying that this has no impact on his legal obligation to carry out his duties in full respect of the obligations arising therefrom’ [sic]. If he, the President of the Council, has not sworn an oath, then how can he have a legal obligation? Unless of course his contract of employment specifies such an obligation, in which case perhaps that portion of his contract of employment can be made public? He, along with every other EU employee, does have a contract of employment?
The basic question is one of simplicity; namely what is the legal difference in their respective positions that requires one to swear an oath but not the other? Coupled to that basic question allow, me to add another; namely why are the treaties so worded as to require one to swear an oath but not the other?
In conclusion, a plea. To use a quaint English expression, will you please stop ‘faffing around’ and just answer the questions?
It really is a simple question, yet to get an answer is akin to extracting blood from a stone. On a lighter note – and to paraphrase Groucho Marx – if they don’t like those questions, I have others.