Key facts of the case:
Appeal — Member of the European Parliament — Parliamentary assistance allowances — Recovery of sums unduly paid — Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 — Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1268/2012 — Limitation — Reasonable time — Review judgment in Arango Jaramillo and Others v EIB (C‑334/12 RX-II, EU:C:2013:134) — Judgment in Nencini v Parliament (C‑447/13 P, EU:C:2014:2372)
- By his appeal, Mr Marchiani asks the Court to set aside the judgment of the General Court of the European Union of 10 October 2014 in Marchiani v Parliament (T‑479/13, EU:T:2014:866, ‘the judgment under appeal’), by which the General Court dismissed his action for annulment of the decision of the Secretary-General of the European Parliament of 4 July 2013 regarding the recovery of a sum of EUR 107 694.72 (‘the contested decision’) and of the related debit note of 5 July 2013 (‘the debit note’).
- In the fourth ground put forward in support of his appeal Mr Marchiani complains that the General Court committed several errors of law in respect of the limitation period for the entitlements to which the contested decision relates. The appellant has not drafted his appeal particularly clearly. However, in the fourth ground of appeal the fourth part may be identified as concerning more specifically an assessment of the reasonable period principle, which applies where no provision of EU law lays down the period within which an application or an action must be lodged.
- That question was carefully examined by the Court of Justice in the context of a review judgment (Arango Jaramillo and Others v EIB (C‑334/12 RX-II, EU:C:2013:134). It was also analysed more recently and in a context similar to that of the present appeal in the judgment in Nencini v Parliament (C‑447/13 P, EU:C:2014:2372), although the approaches taken by the Court in those two judgments may appear to conflict with one another.
- That is why, in accordance with the wishes of the Court of Justice, the present Opinion will be limited to an analysis of that specific question.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
- In the light of the above considerations, I consider that the fourth part of the fourth ground of appeal put forward by the appellant in support of his appeal is unfounded and that consequently it cannot lead to the judgment under appeal being set aside.
- Questions have also been raised concerning the scope and definition of ‘good administration’: is it a generic term, a specific principle, a general principle or a fundamental right? The title and wording of Article 41 of the Charter, however, put an end to such uncertainty. It is the ‘right to good administration’, a right [which] includes inter alia ... the right of every person to be heard before any individual measure which would affect him or her adversely is taken, the right of every person to have access to his or her file, [or] the obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions’.
- That formal development is, moreover, no more than the enshrinement of a general principle of law previously recognised by the Court of Justice. According to the explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 41 of the Charter is ‘based on the existence of the Union as subject to the rule of law whose characteristics were developed in the case-law which enshrined inter alia good administration as a general principle of law’. Under Article 52(7) of the Charter, those explanations are to be ‘given due regard by the courts of the Union and of the Member States’.