Have you considered that your competition may include roles in Luxembourg? Many more institutions are present in Luxembourg than you may think (e.g. the European Parliament and the Council). Be ready to make informed decisions about your available options. Yes, Luxembourg has free public transport countrywide. Yes, the Commission will pay for your citybike subscription. Yes, Luxembourg might subsidise your new bike/electric vehicle. You might even pay a lower price at Commission canteens, depending on your contract type. You could even have lunch at the Jean Monnet restaurant at the Foyer européen (it is still there, but for how long?). Many staff are even eligible for (limited) state aid with accommodation (particularly those earning close to the minimum wage), great, eh? What’s not to like?
Wait, the EU institutions might pay around the minimum wage? Unfortunately, yes. Even for officials? For some, yes. Check out the salary scales and the tables below. You may even be slightly better off in the Parliament, since they calculate differently[*]. This is not the first time that we have looked at the minimum wage, but sometimes it takes an image to make the point. All of the salaries shown in red are below the 2023 Luxembourg minimum wage and consequently should (might?) be eligible for the special allowance in order to meet that threshold.
We have used the 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, Annex III – Entry requirements for each staff category (p.50) for our assessment of qualified/unqualified.
In the contract agents table above: FGI colleagues can only be recruited as Grade I. FGII colleagues can be recruited up to grade 5 as a maximum (Source, Article 3 (10) (p.23) C(2011) 1264 final) therefore all new FGI and FGII recruits would be below the 2023 minimum.
ASTs and AST/SCs: no one can be recruited above step 2. An AST/SC2 would need a minimum of 6 years of additional documented seniority to enter at step 2, while an AST1 or AST/SC1 would need 3 years (Staff Matters).
Back to accommodation and state aid: it is not uncommon for landlords to insist that your take-home pay be at least 3 x (rent + charges). Check here and here to have an idea of what that might translate to in real terms. Check here to see how many flatmates you might need in order to be able to live within 90 minutes of work. The high cost of accommodation has been of concern for over a decade and shows no sign of improving. In fact, accommodation occupies 2 places on the CALux list of 12 actions for Luxembourg (the issues with hospital (over)pricing would be point 13)[**]. The additional 200-400 EUR per month of state aid might not be enough to make a difference. You might find yourself joining our frontalier colleagues and crossing the border every day to go home to Germany, France or Belgium[***].
Surely it’s all worth it though in the end? Once you’re in, you can find something else, right? Well, in addition to the Luxembourg-specific issues outlined above, there are the general long-standing issues:
- 7-year rule for non-permanent staff,
- 8 points of friction for AST/SC staff regarding limited career prospects (‘perspectives’),
- promotion (‘reclassification’ for contract agent colleagues) limitations and the average speeds in the table here,
- competitions may be cancelled/not coincide with your period of eligibility (remember the different institutions interpret the rules differently here also).
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[**] Unfortunately, all 12(+1) are (to date) outstanding. We are unable to find any demonstrable, measurable outcomes for any of them since the announcement 30.03.2022.
[***] It is possible to live in a neighbouring country and still be within a reasonable distance of your place of employment as specified in Article 20 of the staff regulations: ‘compatible with the proper performance of his duties.’ This is not counted as TWA (teleworking from abroad/anywhere) e.g. Metz-Luxembourg is 96km (though this distance may sometimes feel longer) and Arlon-Luxembourg 30km (some colleagues are even commuting by bike! Well done!).