Housing costs in Luxembourg: recognition?

*update 01.04.2022 Corporate Management Board meeting of 30 March 2022 – Flash note: ‘12 actions are being proposed to increase the attractiveness of Luxembourg as place of employment’*

Colleagues in Luxembourg are facing today (well … for over a decade really) house prices that are in no way comparable to those in Brussels, although they receive the same salaries. In the words of DG HR: “This […] has been subject to criticism by some staff members whose place of employment is Luxembourg, who have argued that it does not properly reflect differences in the cost of living between Brussels and Luxembourg.” Of course, as you can imagine, “some staff members” in the above phrase should be read as “each and every staff member in Luxembourg, their family and virtually everybody with a bit of common sense” so, 11.5% of Commission staff, their families and others. In 2019, DG HR commissioned a study that considered that the difference in cost of living is greater than 10% – and that is after the study used a more than questionable methodology, largely diverting from the methodology that Eurostat is using and that is used everywhere else. But even with this methodology, the difference remained too large to be ignored any longer.

Fast-forward to today and a recent COCOLO [1] meeting of the board (“bureau”) of the Luxembourgish local staff committee (LSC) with the director-general of DG HR, Gertrud Ingestad. The LSC minutes of this meeting are quite interesting:

On the cost of living, DG HR reminded about the current statutory setup (adaptation of salaries and Luxembourg income = Brussels income) and the foreseen adaptation (Annex XI of [the Staff Regulations] SR) for which the report planned for March 2022 is being worked on. That could only lead to a modification of the Staff Regulations. The Airinc studies commissioned by HR indeed identified that the main cost element is the housing cost. Therefore, HR continues to work on possible solutions of which the housing allowance (based on Art 1.e of the SR as confirmed by the Legal Service) is still the preferred one. Other allowances (Annex VII of the SR) are less valid from a legal perspective. The High Level Group works on this hypothesis. However, setting up a housing allowance on the basis of the Staff Regulations is also limited by the Budget (Multiannual-annual Financial Framework).

Interestingly, a housing allowance is exactly what Generation 2004 had already proposed in 2019 (from a presentation during the election campaign in 2019):

The full presentation is of course available. Of course, we do acknowledge that we had proposed a different article in the Staff Regulations as a legal base. Frankly, as long as DG HR is finally doing something for the high living costs in Luxembourg, we do not care: we are a results-oriented organisation.

As ever, let us know your ideas and examples: we’re here for you!

[1] Confirmed elsewhere also:

Note the Luxembourg individual national aids (e.g. financial assistance for housing) website has been updated.

[2] COCOLO: Commission de contact local, a regular discussion channel between DG HR and the local staff committee in Luxembourg.

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