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Greece / Council of State / 1414/2018

Ministry of National Defence

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Council of State
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

The case concerns a petition lodged before the Council of State for the annulment of a Decision by the Special Secretariat of the Ministry of Defence on the appointment of the Staff Council members for the General Headquarters of Aviation. The petitioner was appointed an alternate member of the Council and did not have voting rights. She was the only woman appointed to the Council, while all regular members were men. She filed her petition on the basis of art. 161 of the Code of Civil Servants, which stipulates that each sex must be represented in the Council at minimum 1/3 of its members. She complained that her appointment as an alternate member without voting rights violates the spirit and aims of this provision as an instrument promoting gender equality.

Key legal question raised by the Court:

The key legal question brought forth for the Court’s consideration concerns the interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the Code of Civil Servants, in light of the obligation to promote substantive equality between men and women in the field of employment, stemming from Constitutional provisions and EU law, including article 23 of the Charter. Specifically, the question is whether the provision must be interpreted as mandating that the members appointed to satisfy the requirements set therein should be able to actively participate in decision-making, or if it is sufficient for its purposes that they are appointed as alternate members without voting rights

Outcome of the case:

The Court ruled in favour of the petitioner. Specifically, it found that in order to achieve the goal of effective participation of women in the decision-making process each sex must be represented as a regular member with a right to vote at least at the rate stipulated in the provision in question. If this is not feasible, the only member of the underrepresented sex (as is the case here) must be appointed a regular member with full voting rights. Only if none of the above options are feasible is it acceptable to have a Staff Council comprising members of only one sex. The Court reached its decision citing, among others, articles 153 (1)(i) and 157 TFEU, article 23 of the Charter, Directive 2006/54/EU, and Council Recommendation 96/694/EC.