Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Administrative and Budgetary Questions
GR-AB(2004)18 7 July 2004
Status and Conditions of Service of the Judges of the European Court of Human Rights
Item to be considered by the GR-AB at its meeting on 12 July 2004
1. At its meeting on 28 May 2004, the GR-AB gave further consideration to the question of the status and conditions of service of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights, as defined in Resolution(97)9.
2. In particular, the GR-AB examined a comparative table giving details of the budgetary implications of the proposals for modifications to the present arrangements for pension provision for judges made by the Secretary General, the Judges and the Budget Committee respectively.
3. In the course of the discussions, delegations requested some further information on the total cost to the budget of the remuneration of a judge compared with that of an A7 staff member of the Council of Europe, and also compared with the total cost to the budgets of other international courts of the remuneration of their judges.
Comparison with A7 Salaries
4. As concerns the comparison with the budgetary cost of an A7 staff member, it should first be recalled the basis of calculation of the existing remuneration package of judges. In 1997, before the creation of the single Court, the Budget Committee was called upon to make recommendations as to the level and method of calculation and revision of the remuneration of judges.
5. The Budget Committee recommended that the judges, in order to respect their independence, be not treated as employees but should receive an annual emolument which should provide them with a salary and in addition enable them to purchase, on an individual basis, health insurance and pension provision in respect of their period of service.
6. To achieve this objective, the Budget Committee recommended that this sum be calculated by reference to the salary received by an average A7 permanent staff member, plus the amounts paid by the Council of Europe as the employer's contribution towards the cost of health insurance and pension provision for that staff member. The sum recommended by the Budget Committee therefore comprised the following elements, in accordance with staff conditions of service in 1997:
- Basic salary (equivalent to the average of grade A7)
- Head of Family Allowance (6% of the basic salary)
- Expatriation Allowance (20% of basic salary)
- Employer's contribution to health insurance (17% of the above amounts)
- Employer's contribution to pension provision (16.6% of basic salary)
7. The effect of this recommendation was to remunerate all judges, irrespective of their actual personal circumstances, in the same manner as a permanent staff member who:
- received the average salary of grade A7;
- was married to a spouse whose earnings were below the equivalent of grade B3/1, and/or had dependent children;
- was expatriated;
- was a member of the Pension Scheme;
- had basic medical insurance cover through the French Social Security Scheme plus complementary private medical insurance.
8. The question was raised in the GR-AB of the payment of Education Allowance. It should be noted that this is not an unconditional allowance paid to staff members, but merely a partial reimbursement of the real expenditure which staff members have actually incurred to finance the education of their dependent children.
9. The amount of the annual remuneration of judges recommended by the Budget Committee in 1997, broken down into its component parts as described above, is shown in the table appearing at Appendix I to the present document. It should be noted that the recommendation of the Budget Committee provided for the financing of health insurance cover and pension rights for judges on an identical basis as that for permanent staff.
10. However, when fixing the amount of the judges' remuneration in Resolution(97)9, the Committee of Ministers decided to reduce the annual sum of FRF 1 200 000 (approx. €182 000) recommended by the Budget Committee by FRF 100 000 to FRF 1 100 000 (approx. €167 000). This decision was to be provisional and subject to revision in the light of proposals to be made by the Secretary General.
11. As to the subsequent adjustment of the annual sum to compensate for inflation, the Budget Committee recommended that this should not be done in line with the adjustment of staff salaries, but rather as a function of the rate of inflation in France, i.e. the annual sum should be adjusted each time that price increases in France exceeded a threshold of 3%. This policy, approved by the Committee of Ministers, has given rise since 1998 to lower adjustments for judges than for staff. It should be noted that, in the light of the effects of this policy, the Budget Committee recommended at its May 2004 meeting that in future judges' remuneration should be adjusted in the same manner as staff salaries, after a final adjustment of 3% under the present system, which has just taken place.
12. The effect of the decision taken by the Committee of Ministers in Resolution(97)9, and the fact that judges' remuneration has been adjusted on a different basis to that of permanent staff members in the intervening years, means that there is a divergence between the total cost of a judge's remuneration and the total cost of the remuneration of an A7 permanent staff member. On the other hand, changes in the conditions of service of new staff members since 1997 (reduction in expatriation allowance, compulsory private health insurance and the new Pension Scheme) mean that the employer's contributions in respect of permanent staff have been reduced. A comparison of the present remuneration of judges with the present cost of the remuneration of a permanent staff member receiving an average A7 salary and one receiving the maximum A7 salary appears in the table at Appendix II to the present document.
Proposals for the Future Remuneration of Judges
13. There are three different proposals for the future remuneration of judges put forward by the Secretary General, the judges and the Budget Committee. These proposals were set out in an information document submitted to the GR-AB when it last examined this question, and which for convenience is reproduced at Appendix III to the present document.
Comparison with Other International Courts
14. Information was requested on the proportion of the total budgets of international courts which the cost of employing their judges represented.
15. The Secretariat has made enquiries with a number of international courts to obtain such information, notably the European Court of Justice and Court of First Instance, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
16. A close examination of the information made available revealed that:
- there are major differences in the number of judges sitting on the various courts, ranging from 15 to 45;
- the type of work and working methods, and thus the role of the judges in the processes of the different courts, varied significantly;
- the budgets of the various courts showed significant differences in the range of expenditure included, or not, in their budgets. As an example, costs can vary enormously in respect of the logistical services depending upon the way in which such expenditure is accounted for by their host organisations, notably the cost of premises (rental on a real or nominal basis, charging or not of the costs of construction or purchase and depreciation). A further source of significant variation is the differing methods adopted for the financing of, and accounting for, the cost of the future pension rights being acquired by serving staff and judges.
17. For these reasons, the Secretariat believes that the comparison requested, if expressed in detail using the incomplete and non-comparable data available, could prove misleading and counterproductive in the context of the question at hand. It has therefore preferred not to set out detailed comparisons of information which cannot be objectively compared. However, to give an idea of the proportion represented by judges' salaries, the information available from the various courts placed this in a range between 8% and 30% of total budgets for the judges as a whole, and from 0.38% to 1.99% for an individual judge.
Appendix 3 – Information document distributed at the GR-AB meeting on 28 May 2004