The EU's top court has ruled that Edith Cresson, the former European commissioner and French prime minister, violated her official duties.
Edith Cresson: Willing to extend benefits to personal friends
However, the court did not impose a penalty on Ms Cresson, 72, who served on the EU executive in 1995-1999.
The court said she had "acted in breach of the obligations arising from her office" by appointing an acquaintance, Rene Berthelot, as a personal adviser.
Under EU rules she could have lost her pension for the offence.
But the judges said that "having regard to the circumstances of the case, the finding of breach constitutes, of itself, an appropriate penalty".
The scandal surrounding the case contributed to the fall in 1999 of the Commission headed by Jacques Santer.
Ms Cresson gets a Commission pension of 47,000 euros (£32,000) annually.
The European Court of Justice's advocate general, Leendert Geelhoed, had recommended that Ms Cresson be deprived of half her pension.
In January 2003, the Commission accused her of breaching her obligations either intentionally, or as a result of gross negligence.
Mr Berthelot, a dentist, was given a job as a visiting scientist from September 1995 to the end of 1997 - four months longer than the maximum allowed.