European Commission’s Šefčovič admits European Schools Baccalaureate problems in Chemistry and Maths

In a recent response to a parliamentary question, Mr Šefčovič admits that there were problems with the Maths and Chemistry Baccalaureate 2012. Unfortunately Mr Šefčovič did not respond to the MEP’s request for information on what right of redress there might be for impacted pupils, instead he merely points out that the Commission will follow up on recommendations to avoid the problem recurring. He doesn’t say what those recommendations are.

Mr Šefčovič said “Concerning European Baccalaureate 2012 exams, the Commission regrets the problems encountered at the mathematics and chemistry exams. The Commission requested a detailed report from the Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools which was prepared by independent external experts. A number of recommendations were made that will be followed-up closely in order to avoid similar problems in the future.”

Unfortunately it is arguable that Mr Šefčovič has now mislead Parliament, and his response is factually inaccurate.  The “detailed report” referenced in his answer was, as a matter of fact, not prepared following a request by the Commission, as Mr Šefčovič states. It was one carried out by EURSC on their own initiative prior to the Commission becoming aware of the problem. It was not independent, it was conducted by the person in charge of BAC 2012 Professor Norbert Pachler and colleagues, and thus, as Professor Norbert Pachler held was the chair of BAC 2012, he had responsibility for the problem occurring in the first place. He clearly cannot in any way be considered independent. The report too did not make recommendations for the future but merely determined that maths marked in BAC 2012 ought to be bumped up to correct the mistakes made. No report was asked for nor received in relation to chemistry.

The cover up continues. Those impacted appear to have no right of redress. Lets see if the  EU Ombudsman will act, as the EU Commission continues to disobey her finding of Maladministration, as it disagrees. The EU Ombudsman found that the lack of an independent review of EURSC amounted to maladministration by the Commission. A case continues to run at the EU Ombudsman as a result of the Commission’s refusal to act on the maladministration finding.

Next up, lets see if the ECHR takes up the reins and reviews the denial of fundamental rights.

European Commission fails to respond to Rule 117 question, re its continued ignoring EU Ombudsman ruling of maladministration

Posted by Mélanie Bruneau on 06/11/13

On 17 September 2013  an MEP tabled a written European Parliamentary question to the European Commission under rule 117, see

the question read: “On 2 April 2012, the European Ombudsman made a finding of maladministration against the Commission for failing to respond to requests for an independent external audit of the European Schools. Has the Commission responded to this ruling?”

Rule 117 states that the European Commission has 6 weeks to reply.

To date there is no reply.

Can the Commission just bury its head in the sand?


Greek tragedy, Irish farce, European Schools, EU Ombudsman, dog mess

Lets face it, the legal basis and governance structure of the European School system  is like a rather large pile of dog mess left in the Foyer of the Justus Lipsius building. There is no voice, anywhere saying its all ok, except of course the EURSC itself living in its Hades.

Everyone knows it is a smelly mess, hence one to avoid. Examine it more closely and the stench becomes pungent.

Step into it unwittingly and find yourself disgustingly soiled and mired in excreta. It is universally accepted that this pile of dog mess needs to be purged. 30,000 young potential victims a year, are exposed, some already defaced.

The owners of Cerberus the errant hound, Council of Europe and the European Commission, are sitting in their air conditioned meeting room, and reflecting mostly on other worldly  matters, only occasionally observing the grotesque dog mess through protective glass and agreeing to spend 280m of taxpayers euro per year on dog food for the mutt, more mess results, once processed.

Parliament and ECJ who manage the 101 Dalmations that are the Institutions have  sought to prevent such dog mess occurring and have erected notices to request dog owners to be more considerate and point to the pile of dog mess deposited by Cerberus. Council and Commission, the owners of his offending mongrel, alas cannot read the notices from their coffee scented meeting room, high above. They ignore the messages, seemingly protected from the putrid stench by the decorative Ivory.

The malodorous air permeates the corridors and work stations of the Institutions. The occasional young victim cries in disbelief when soiled. A delegation goes out to request the janitor of Europe to clean the mess. The old Greek janitor examines his broom, surveys the dog mess and being in charge, demands an investigation by the owners.

Some time later he decides to retire to Olympus and so hands his broom to a younger Irish lady and he exits the stinky foyer, forever. Time passes and the dog mess remains, no investigation takes place.

Our Irish lady is then begged to take cleansing action.

Ah sure why she says, that’s not a new mess at all at all byjaysus. Begorrah we’ve looked at it before she says, and sure ’twas to be looked at, like by the Owners of Cerberus like. She says, it’ll be grand, no need for new action.  Retreating then for a cup of tea to the cosy EU Ombudsman office where it seems Punch and Judy now live.

King Eurystheus or ECHR in Strasbourg is expecting a warrior to bring him the dog Cerberus, and its owners. Until then the dog mess remains.


Worry, 1st decision of Emily O’Reilly, EU Ombudsman, allows EU Commission to ignore her decisions

The EU Ombudman Emily O’Reilly has barely got her feet under her desk, but has indicated her approach.

In case 814/2010/JF, finally decided in 2012 the EU Ombudsman found the European Commission guilty of maladministration and requested an independent audit into EURSC, European Schools.

A bitter Commission sought to defend the case and threw their best arguments at the EU Ombudsman. These arguments were rejected.

Since then the European Commission openly admit they are disobeying the EU Ombudsman ruling as they continue to disagree. They have not raised any new arguments that were not aired in the case itself prior to the Decision.

In a written ruling yesterday the EU Ombudsman refused to take any further action on the basis there are “no grounds” for further inquiry. Is deliberate anarchic disobedience not sufficient grounds? Is continued falling standards, the matter at issue in the 2010 case, not grounds? It would appear that after the Decision in April 2012 the European Commission sent some follow up to the EU Ombudsman in July 2012. This follow up has not been disclosed under Freedom of Information requests. Can this be a legitimate ground on which to base a denial of citizens rights?

Worrying times for those who value the role of an effective EU Ombudsman. Are wee faced with a puppet EU Ombudsman, doing the bidding of the Institutions?

More to follow..


more skullduggery in the playground, EURSC, European Schools, a European Commission veto?

below is a parliamentary question submitted by a Danish MEP.

It raises an interesting legal question as to whether the Commission through its practices and particularly its financing practices, exerts a de facto veto over the European School. A power (if it exists at all) the Commission wields on an ad hoc basis which is an interesting set of behaviours worth examining under the TFEU.

One suspects this whole story has a lot left to unearth….

The Question

The structure of the European Schools is based on precisely defined responsibilities set out in a number of legal documents, which specify what influence each of the parties is to have and how their votes are to be weighted.

No individual body — including the Commission — is given a veto. The European School in Culham (UK) is being wound up, with its final phase in 2017. When the transitional arrangements were adopted, it was made quite clear what effect the closure would have on the pupils, and it was therefore decided to continue teaching in all languages until 2017.

However, the Commission has now changed tack and it has been announced that various aspects of the budget are no longer legal — including support for Danish teaching in the form of a Danish teacher at the European School in Culham. This means that Category c pupils are no longer offered teaching in Language 1 (Danish), thus removing the basis for these pupils’ school careers. And this in spite of the fact that the budget was adopted at a meeting of the Board of Governors — the European Schools’ highest authority — in April 2010, by 24 votes for, 4 absent and one against (the Commission). The Commission subsequently sent the schools a demand for repayment, in contravention of the decision taken by the Board of Governors in April 2010.

Does the Commission intend to persist with this discriminatory conduct against the small languages?

How does the Commission justify its decision to retroactively remove support for Danish, among others, when it had earlier undertaken to maintain the system up to 2017?

Does the Commission consider it has an unwritten veto on the Board of Governors?

Does the Commission consider that there is discrimination between the rights of different pupils when they are admitted to the European School?

European Commission flouts its own legal system to avoid European Schools (EURSC) reform

Its a sad reflection on the legitimacy of the European Union when the European Commission itself avoids the application of the TFEU and the rule of law in Europe in relation to the European Schools.  The European Commission and European taxpayers provide 280m euro per year to the EURSC, in the full knowledge that the EURSC is not subject to EU law. The European Commission knows that the current legal basis of the EURSC creates a legal limbo for citizens and the 30,000 pupils of the European Schools system and that pupils have no right of redress against the EURSC. Further the EURSC is not subject to any effective governance and suffers significant quality failings.

The European Commission seem content to leave EU citizens and the 30,000 pupils subject to what it calls “public international law” and not to have the European schools subject to the laws of the European Union. Why? The European Commission doesn’t answer this question. The European Parliament has passed resolutions calling for an overhaul.

Will this structure withstand scrutiny by the European Court of Human Rights? It would appear that the EURSC breaches several fundamental principles laid out in the European Charter namely, articles 6,13 and 14.

Article 6 provides citizens with the right to a fair trial and Article 13 requires citizens to have an effective remedy.

In a prior case Gasparini vs. Italy and Belgium, 12 May 2009. the European Court of Human Rights held that it had “to ascertain whether the respondent States”, at the time they joined the organisation (in that case NATO in this case the EURSC) and transferred to the relevant organisation, some of their sovereign powers, had been in a position, in good faith, to determine that the organisations internal dispute resolution mechanism did not flagrantly breach the provisions of the Convention”

In the case of the EURSC it must be abundantly clear now that the EURSC’s internal dispute resolution mechanism does indeed flagrantly breach the provisions of the Convention.
Will it take a ruling from the ECHR to force the European Commission and the European Council to act? It certainly looks that way. One has to wonder what the consequences of such a ruling might be. Is the European Commission willing to have the results of the European Baccalaureate 2012 declared invalid and the resulting consequences for pupils?
Only time will tell.

MAROŠ ŠEFČOVIČ, Vice President of EU Commission, disagrees with EU Ombudsman decision, so just ignores its ruling!

The power of the EU Ombudsman is called into question due to the European Commission’s anarchic attitude to the Ombudsman ruling in case 814/2010/JF which it fought but lost.

Mr Sefcovic in a letter today repeats the European Commission line that “Concerning the conclusions of the European Ombudsman in the case 814/2010/JF, the Commission did not share the view that an external audit of the ESS was necessary in relation to the issues put forward in the case such as high repeat and dropout rates and put forward a number of measures/initiatives already taken or ongoing in order to improve the system.” This, even though the items referred to as “put forward” by the European Commission were rejected as wholly inadequate by the EU Ombudsman in its Decision.

Does this signal the end of any role for the EU Ombudsman in relation to the actions of the European Commission? What next then for the EU Ombudsman?

One must wonder whether new EU Ombudsman Emily O’ Reilly will tolerate this blatant show of two fingers to her office from the European Commission. The two meet on 15th October 2013. Outcome keenly awaited.


Council playing “pass the parcel” with the crisis at EURSC, European Schools

I was told yesterday by letter from Mr Van Rompuy’s office that “we regret to inform you that the Council of the European Union does not have competence, as this issue falls under the responsibility of the European Commission. Therefore, Mr Van Rompuy cannot intervene in this matter.”

The Commission take the line that they only have one vote at the EURSC, hence the matter is one for Council. Indeed the last Council meeting requested an urgent meeting of Education Ministers.

The ECJ noted that it was for Council to change the EURSC Treaty.

Shameful to see our School Children harmed by our political elite burying their heads in the sand.



Denying a Crisis at European Schools (EURSC), European Commission burying their heads in the sand.

The European Commission seem to half heartedly deny the existence of a crisis at EURSC (the European Schools). They write in September 2013.

“The crisis that was allegedly recognised by the European Commission at a meeting of the Education Council in May is related to the cost-sharing issue, and the high number of the unfilled seconded teaching posts in the ESS. The Commission, together with the Secretary-General of the European Schools and the Member States, is devoted to finding a tangible and sustainable solution to the problem. In fact, the issue was the subject of the extraordinary Board of Governors meeting held in Brussels this week.”

We now know that meeting did not resolve the situation.

The UK Government write “The meeting of EU Education Ministers in May 2013 did discuss the European Schools.  It did so however not in the context of wider or general reform of the European Schools, which the UK considers necessary and in fact supports, but in the light of trying to agree a new funding formula. This is important for the UK because of the disproportionate costs it bears in terms of the demands for native English teachers when compared to the number of UK pupils.  The upshot is that the Board of Governors’ inability to agree a fairer system of funding led to the UK’s decision not to replace any teachers leaving the European Schools in the last academic year.  An extraordinary meeting of the Board of Governors will therefore discuss funding again on 23 September.  If there is no resolution the issue might then be discussed again when EU Education Ministers meet in November.  I cannot say though whether that meeting would additionally cover wider and more fundamental issues of European Schools reform.”

The Parents Association write

“Dear parents,

In the second week of the new school year, APEEE did, through its section representatives, a stocktaking regarding missing teachers and other problems at the beginning of this school year.In the meantime, we have raised the issues which had been brought to our attention with the school in two meetings (in CEES [meeting on secondary issues] on 18/9 and in SAC [school advisory council] on 26/9]).  Many issues have in the meantime been settled, but not all.

We are fully aware that lack of information continues to be a problem, as even where teachers started to teach certain courses, in some of these courses neither the pupils nor the parents received any information from the school whether the teachers are acting as a temporary replacements or whether they will be teaching the course throughout the school year.

Please be informed that Mr Schmelz, our new Deputy Director Secondary, promised us to inform all pupils and parents concerned directly and provide an update on the situation.

Kind regards,

Renate Repplinger-Hach and Giles Houghton-Clarke on behalf of APEEE Bxl II Woluwe” see…

Isn’t it time we see a solution?





Naughty school kids tweek the nose of the European Parliament, failure of Education and democracy with the European Schools (EURSC)

The European Parliament passed a resolution in September 2011 that has so far been ignored. The Parliament resolution, came after an extensive and well regarded study led by Jean-Marie Cavada. The Cavada report itself followed a report by the European Commission which averred that the process of reform that was launched by European Parliament resolutions in 2002 and 2005 had actually reached closure in April 2009 at the EURSC Board of Governors’ meeting in Stockholm. Closure you might say, what closure?  Much work was left undone. The Cavada report bears witness to this and the subsequent European Parliament resolution called it out starkly when it:

1) Emphasised that the European Schools are currently in a legal limbo, which manifests itself in the unclear legal and jurisdictional status of acts adopted by the Schools’ bodies, insufficient possibilities to challenge those acts before national courts, no possibility of recourse to the European Ombudsman;

2) that considered that the current intergovernmental legal status of the European Schools has reached its limits and requires profound change; considers that this change should be of such a nature as to allow Union action to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States, without superseding their competence, and to adopt legally binding acts to that end within the meaning of Articles 2 and 6 TFEU;

3)  Stressed the need to give the European Schools the foundation of an adequate legal base, within the EU’s area of competence, and hopes that the Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture, together with the Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education – responsible under Annex VII of its Rules of Procedure for the promotion of the system of European schools – can be involved in any discussions on the subject and in any consideration of the future of the Schools; and

4)  Considered that the European Schools should be brought under the umbrella of the Union; considers that an appropriate legal basis in this regard could be Article 165 TFEU, which reads: ‘The Union should contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, by supporting and supplementing their action, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and organisation of education systems and their cultural and linguistic diversity’, and further specifies the aims of the Union’s action, which correspond to the aims of the European Schools;

Nothing meaningful has happened to progress matters in the intervening years. Only through intense pressure did the Board of Governors of EURSC agreed in April 2013 on the creation of an ad hoc working group. The working group was given the limited mandate of providing the Board with reflection on the current complaints and appeals system and possibilities for further development of the system. The Board of Governors being the body that is in legal limbo, the Board  that itself requires profound change and the Board that Parliament considered to have reached its limits. The working group has so far not ventured to ask for stakeholder input. The truculent children appear to remain firmly in control of the EURSC playground. A playground of 30,000 European school children.

Standards at the EURSC and the stature of the European Baccalaureate have been negatively impacted. The Baccalaureate in 2012 was beset by problems, certainly the Maths and Chemistry examinations have left a rather stinky smell.  Certain pupils have been directly harmed. That such harm has occurred is reprehensible.

Perhaps the fact that European Parliament remains ignored will stimulate Parliament to be more intolerant and insistent when it next considers the issues. It is likely to have an opportunity to do so in a few short weeks, when it considers a Petition seeking an independent audit of the EURSC and BAC 2012, specifically including Maths and Chemistry. Ironically it is also the need for an independent audit that was demanded by the European Ombudsman of the Commission after lengthy proceedings, that remains one of the key EU Ombudsman rulings that the Commission has decided to ignore and not action. No doubt the new EU Ombudsman will look afresh at this material failing by the European Commission on foot of more recent complaints and the EU Ombudsman might also feel it necessary to send the issue to the European Parliament.

At some point order and the rule of law needs to be restored to the anarchic playground that is the EURSC.

As a last resort will it take a successful case at the European Court of Human Rights to restore the rule of law, it would be quite shameful if that is what it takes.