Commission to respect expected salary adjustment for some, but not for all

*Update 03.11.2022: Eurostat has published the final figures on the increase for Commission staff in its report.* Against the backdrop of increasing prices and rising inflation and during a period that is, for many staff, the summer break, the Council requested the Commission analyse how to further cut expenditure on staff, asking for a response by the end of September 2022. The Council was specifically targeting the salary updates intended to address inflation.

 ‘The Council notes that the current method of automatic salary updates puts, in the current unprecedented inflationary environment, an unsustainable burden on administrative expenditure across all headings.’

We say the Council was asking the Commission to further cut expenditure because, with the 2014 staff regulations reform, the Commission already went above and beyond what was originally asked for, so much so that the European Court of Auditors (ECA) cautioned against further changes without doing the necessary groundwork and impact assessments.[1]

To put the July 2022 Council request in context, only weeks before, the Council request, the Commission was already listed as having provisionally lost 75 posts for 2023, the only institution to have lost any posts (Draft General Budget of the European Union for the financial year 2023, Working Document Part II, June 2022, p. 67)

The Commission informed staff representatives in July that its intention was to respect the staff regulations and defend the current method for salary adaptations. The staff regulations (Article 65) include the method for updating Commission staff salaries, based on the evolution of salary increases of the national civil servants of 11 selected EU Member States. It is worth remembering that this method can lead to both increases and decreases of the salaries of EU Commission staff.

In a meeting on 21.09.2022, David Müller, head of Cabinet for Commissioner Hahn, informed the staff representatives on the formal reply to be sent by the Commission to the Council.

The Commission intends to apply strictly the staff regulations and the method of adaptation of Commission staff salaries. In the current context, with high inflation and increases of salaries of some national public services, it will lead to a ‘substantial increase’ of EU staff salaries. The Cabinet refused to provide specific figures of this increase, asking us to wait until the end of October, when Eurostat will provide final figures.

Unfortunately, at the same time the salaries of Local Agents (LAs) (colleagues who are subject to national laws, such as those in the 144 EU Delegations around the world) are to remain unchanged until the administrative budget can afford their salary adjustment (if at all).  The administration has officially given instructions that the payment of obligatory liabilities is the priority and that salary reviews of LAs are to be postponed. Note that the postponed review might recommend no change at all in LA salaries while inflationary pressures affect all of us, independent of our contract type.

Generation 2004 welcomes that the Commission respects its legal commitments and the salary increase for Commission staff, and awaits the outcome of the LA salary review. Any loss of purchasing power disproportionately impacts colleagues in the lowest-paid categories and LAs in delegations. Many colleagues are currently stretching the limits of their capacity to keep up with energy bills, the additional costs of teleworking (note that staff in delegations are still waiting for a decision on teleworking) and other increased living costs at a time when inflation is at the highest level in decades.

Mr Müller also stated that the Commission has no intention to incur any other expenditure such as support for teleworking or housing allowances (in spite of ‘lump sum’ mentioned (Article 13(4), Working Time and Hybrid Working Decision, March 2022) and the housing allowance proposed (again) only 6 months ago, also in March 2022, for Luxembourg).

Generation 2004 understands the challenges of the moment, but also regrets this approach. Two situations that stand out are those of colleagues in Luxembourg, where housing prices have increased substantially during the last years, and LAs in delegations whose salary adjustments are not mandatory: they see their outgoings eating a bigger and bigger chunk of their take-home pay, with no assistance in sight.

Generation 2004 will keep on monitoring the reactions of the Commission and the Council to ensure that the law is respected and the method of salary adjustments is applied.

If you wish to share your experience under this inflationary environment with the LA lack of salary adjustment, please contact us.

If you appreciate our work, please consider becoming a member of Generation 2004.



‘All in all, the direct budgetary impact of pay and pensions savings on the 2014-2020 MFF is likely to reach around €4.2 billion — more than what was planned.’ (Point 17, Special report no 15/2019) [bold is not present in original text]

 ‘Assess needs and potential impacts before any further revision of the Staff Regulations’ (Recommendation 3, Special report no 15/2019)

‘… the impact of the 2014 reforms package on HR management has been mixed … Raising the retirement age and reducing recruitment is contributing to an ageing workforce. The Commission is placing greater reliance on contract staff to cope with increased workloads and fewer recruitment opportunities, although the impact on the Commission’s departments varies considerably. Finally, less favourable conditions of employment have reduced the attractiveness of working for the EU at a time when it is struggling to attract sufficient staff from a number of Member States.’ (Point VI, Special report no 15/2019)

‘… we found that the Commission carried out little assessment of the likely HR management consequences of the cost-saving and non-financial measures in the reforms package. Its monitoring arrangements did not enable it to identify negative consequences fully or at the appropriate time.’ (Point 7, Special report no 15/2019)

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