Explain the name: why 2004?

G2004, Generation, Generation 2004: what does it mean?

We realise that our name is not as transparent as it could be. The ‘2004’ in Generation 2004 is a reference to the 2004 Kinnock reform of the rules for staff across all EU institutions, the staff regulations. This reform process was then repeated in 2014 and could potentially be repeated in the future. While the reopening of the staff regulations is not obligatory, it is always a possibility.

The reasoning behind the two reforms which have taken place so far is the Multiannual Financial Framework budget: heading 7 relates to European public administration costs. The Member States push for budget savings via the Council and generalised reworkings of the staff regulations have, so far, been one part of the outcome.

Those savings have been made by reducing working conditions for everyone in general and then further by reducing specific benefits for those who are recruited afterwards. In short, with each reform staff have lost out, with those recruited later losing out most.

These changes have led to generational differences where different rules apply (e.g. pension accrual rates, retirement age, career prospects and salaries) depending on the date staff were recruited. Three coexisting cohorts of staff members, so far.

  • pre-2004
  • 2004-2014
  • Post 2014
  • further divisions?

‘Since the 2014 reform of the Staff Regulations, the share of active staff members falling under the pre-2004 rules decreased from 36% to 19% whilst active staff members falling under the rules in place since 1 January 2014 represent almost 48% of active staff members …’ (8319/23, Brussels, 14 April 2023) 

This means that there are differences between staff and the rights they acquired. While this inevitably complicates our role, we are here for all of you!

Where does Generation 2004 fit in?

Generation 2004 was created in 2012. Our purpose was (then as now) to try to avoid a repetition of the previous reforms where the most-recently-recruited staff bear a disproportional part of the burden of the reform, in addition to the work of countering a general reduction in working conditions.

And the evaluation of those reforms?

Unfortunately, in the 2014 reform again working conditions in general were reduced and again the salaries and pensions those recruited after 01.01.2014 were even further reduced. 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.

‘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)

 ‘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)

The future?

Now, in 2023, the Council is again pushing for savings: Council request to further reduce spending on staff, Council request to further reduce spending on staff II

Please read about the reforms and do all you can to keep yourselves informed

  • European Commission, 2011, Report to the European Parliament and the Council equivalence between old and new career structures, Article 6 of the staff regulations COM(2011) 171/2
  • European Commission, 2021, Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council assessing the functioning of the Staff Regulations of officials and the Conditions of employment of other servants of the European Union (COM(2021) 439 final)
  • European Court of Auditors, 2019, Special report no 15/2019: Implementation of the 2014 staff reform package at the Commission – Big savings but not without consequences for staff

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