Merpel was extremely disappointed and dismayed to hear that Laurent Prunier, the Secretary of SUEPO The Hague and a member of the EPO's Central Staff Committee, has been fired by the EPO President, Benoit Battistelli.
- to ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are not only fair but also seen to be so, and to consider the possibility of involvement of an external reviewer or of arbitration or mediation
- pending the outcome of this process and before further decisions in disciplinary cases are taken, to inform the AC in appropriate detail and make proposals that enhance confidence in fair and reasonable proceedings and sanctions;
Long experience suggests that whatever concerns AC members might have about this latest development, they will not actually do anything concrete to take control over the ever-worsening situation in an organisation they purport to oversee. There is a very straightforward step that the AC could take if they in fact wished to restore confidence in the Office and themselves. Quite simply, they should invite a review and inspection from the national regulatory authorities in the countries in which the main Office sites are located, i.e. the German and Dutch labour ministries. If those bodies are satisfied that the Office is being run according to recognised basic norms of HR practice, then that would be enough to assure themselves that staff are being managed fairly. The management of the Office would resist and cry "diplomatic immunity", but the answer to this is simple: Article 20 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities states:
(1) The Organisation shall co-operate at all times with the competent authorities of the Contracting States in order to facilitate the proper administration of justice, to ensure the observance of police regulations and regulations concerning public health, labour inspection or other similar national legislation, and to prevent any abuse of the privileges, immunities and facilities provided for in this Protocol.