Council request to further reduce spending on staff II

*Updated 07.08.2023 in response to feedback, thanks! See footnotes

Original article: Generation 2004 is closely following this latest Council request to further reducing spending on staff (Budget 2024: Council agrees on its guidelines for the establishment of next year’s EU budget, 14.03.2023, see quote below). The Commission appears to have provisionally lost 75 posts, the only institution to have lost any posts (Draft General Budget of the European Union for the financial year 2023, Working Document Part II, 2022, p. 67) Generation 2004 says no to further reducing staff spending. In fact, with the 2014 staff regulations reform, the Commission 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 (see our evaluation of the original Council request (July 2022)).

  1. 2-year freeze of pay and pensions,
  2. 5% reduction of posts and longer working hours[*]
  3. increase in the retirement age and
  4. reduction of annual accrual rate for pensions.

Almost 20 years after the drastic 2004 Kinnock Staff Regulation reform – further intensified by the 2014 reform – the division of staff and the inequalities created have not yet been addressed. 2023 is not the time to make such inequalities worse.  Staff rights must be safeguarded. In our latest meeting with Commissioner Hahn’s cabinet (15.03.2023) the engagement of Commissioner Hahn to avoid a reopening of the Staff regulations was reiterated. Generation 2004 continues to call upon the Commission to stand firm to defend the staff of this institution.

‘The Council reiterates that the ceiling for heading 7 [European public administration] of the [Multiannual Financial Framework] MFF 2021-2027 is founded on the premise that all Union institutions adopt a comprehensive and targeted approach for stabilising the number of staff and reducing administrative expenditure. Several years of increases in the staff levels, particularly of the European Parliament but also of some other institutions, is undermining the institutional balance and putting heading 7 under significant pressure. That pressure is being amplified by the current method of automatic salary updates, the energy prices and general price increases in the present unprecedented inflationary environment. The Council therefore calls for common measures to contain that heading. Where appropriate, in light of the above, it calls on the Commission to exercise its powers under Article 314(1) TFEU [Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union].

In this context, the Council reiterates its requests towards the Commission, to present, firstly, and without prejudice to its right of initiative, in line with Article 241 TFEU, effective measures to ensure that the current ceilings of heading 7 of the MFF would not be exceeded and that the special instruments will not be mobilised for this heading.

Secondly, to present an assessment allowing to ensure a coordinated approach towards cybersecurity so that the financial burden of all institutions can be mitigated. Both requests should be addressed in a timetable compatible with the negotiation of the budget for 2024, and in any case before 1 June 2023. The Council further reiterates the great importance it attaches to these budget guidelines and expects the Commission to duly take them into account in the preparation of the draft budget for 2024. ’ (Budget 2024: Council agrees on its guidelines for the establishment of next year’s EU budget, 14.03.2023, bold not present in original)

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us.

[*] This is again the ‘doing more with less’. There are now fewer staff for the same (or increased) workload. Those staff now work 40 hours per week with no additional salary instead of the pre-2014 full-time of 37.5 hours. So, staff working 40 hours per week for 4 weeks in 2013 generated 10 hours of flexitime. From 2014 onwards the same 40 x 4 generates no flexitime.

We also forgot to add the solidarity levy, ostensibly a ‘temporary measure (from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2023)’ (Tax and solidarity levy). We have long considered that it should be applied evenly, even to pensions.

‘If the special solidarity levy had been applied to staff and pensioners alike and had it taken greater account of resiliency of the persons concerned, its average value could have been set significantly lower. Not only would this have benefited the lower grades and contract staff in particular, but also and above all, it would have been in fact real solidarity, perhaps for the first time.’ (Generation 2004, 28.03.2019)

(Thanks to the colleague who wrote to us to add these additional details).

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