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Senior members of the European Parliament have challenged the policy that hands the European Court of Justice’s 38 judges and lawyers an official car and driver. MEPs claimed the service was misused to take judges on private trips to their home countries, as shown by data from 2018. In a resolution, the EU Parliament warned of “high reputational and ethical risks” of allowing the limousines to be used for trips outside of Luxembourg.
These trips should be taken “only in exceptional and justified cases”, the paper added.
The Parliament said it “deplores” not being informed of any changes made to the ECJ’s driver service.
Czech MEP Tomas Zdechovsky, who wrote the resolution, said: “Nobody understands whether these chauffeur services can be qualified as work trips or whether they are private trips.
“It’s very problematic, there needs to be full transparency.”
In 2018, there were 13 cases where drives went to a home country to pick up a judge because their travel to Luxembourg had been hit by bad weather or strikes.
The figure was down from 32 cases in 2017 that weren’t deemed to be work-related trips.
Some journeys undertaken by judges included private viewings of art exhibitions or to attend funerals.
An ECJ spokesman said these cases had been “exceptional and justified”.
“Since then, such trips have effectively ceased,” he added.
“The Court is committed to implementing the recommendations and to respond to questions of the Parliament as quickly as possible and confirms both its openness and its determination to enhance constantly the control of all its activities.
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“We are not aware of this absence of response on our side to a question concerning the control system for official cars.”
Officials have since adopted a “more restrictive approach” to their use of official cars because it “felt the necessity to clarify the internal rules”.
The row comes as the ECJ is under intense scrutiny after a scathing judgement by Germany’s top court.
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The country’s Karlsruhe-based constitutional court threw out a decision by EU judges, questioning their authority over domestic decisions.
It questioned the legality of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme and the ECJ’s decision to support the policy.
Observers said Germany’s top court had called into question the primacy of EU over domestic laws as a result.
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