Advocate General asks the TEU to declare himself incompetent to judge Eurogroup decisions
The lawyer's conclusions, which are not binding for the future judgment issued by the TEU, thus respond to the appeal presented by a group of individuals and companies affected by the rescue of the Cyprus banking system in 2013.
Those affected appealed to the European Justice arguing that said rescue caused a substantial reduction in their deposits, shares or obligations. The financial assistance program had been requested from the Eurogroup by the Cypriot government, which negotiated its conditions with the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In a first ruling, the EU General Court rejected their claims for compensation because the requirement of illegality of conduct imputed to the European Union was not met. But it also rejected an inadmissibility appeal proposed by the Council of the EU, on the understanding that the Eurogroup is an "entity of the Union formally constituted by the Treaties".
The Council of the EU (the institution representing the Member States) then appealed to the Court of Justice, the highest court, to determine whether the Eurogroup could be classified as a European "institution".
In his conclusions, in which the Advocate General proposes an answer to the judges but it is not binding, Pitruzzella proposes to the TEU to annul the sentences of the lower instance. Specifically, it argues that the Eurogroup "cannot be classified as an organ of the Union for the purposes of bringing an action for annulment".
The lawyer explains that the function of this body is "merely political" given its "informal character". Thus, he stresses that "the Eurogroup not only does not have its own powers, but also does not have any power to sanction the failure of its participants to implement the agreed political objectives."
With regard to its legal nature, the Advocate General states that the Eurogroup "acts as a 'bridge' between the national, the Union level and the intergovernmental level outside Union law".
Consequently, and given that the EU courts "do not have jurisdiction to hear the actions for compensation brought against" the Eurogroup, the remedies "are inadmissible". However, the Italian adds that this fact "does not exclude the responsibility of the EU for the actions by which the Council and the Commission have implemented the decisions of that body".