Would you like to undertake other activities outside your current job in the Commission?

*Update 11.10.2023 Thanks to the colleague who pointed out that the €10000 limit has not changed since 2017: an EU  inflation calculator says it would be worth €12932.39 today. Should this limit not also keep pace?* Original article: Do you know what steps to take? Let’s say you want to be a therapist or to do some voluntary work [1] within an NGO working with kids or teaching adults different topics or other similar activities. Well, for many types of outside activities during your active service, during your leave on personal grounds (CCP) or even after leaving the service[2], the rules (revised in 2017) state that you need to ask for prior authorisation whether you are an official, contract agent (CA) or temporary agent (TA). [3]

In the same way, you have to use your common sense and be careful not to undertake activities that might damage or discredit the image of the Commission. For those in active service or on CCP it is also fundamental to check the budget if you are planning to be remunerated for this activity: there is an annual limit of €10 000, regardless of country, after national income taxes and other social legislation[4]. Of course, this is a symbolic amount which would work out at less than €1 000 per month if this were to be a whole-year activity and it should be taxed according to the national legislation. To put this in perspective, this would be unlikely to cover the rent of a room in a shared flat in Luxembourg[5]. Whatever is earned beyond this amount is to be turned over to the Commission and this has happened in the past.

The outside activities can be related to charity, teaching activities or other type of voluntary work. Nevertheless, in general the Commission does not approve of staff carrying out certain activities such as those related to:

  • a profession e.g. accountant, lawyer, translator, economist, IT, doctor, architect, interpreter etc.
  • work in commercial companies
  • teaching or pedagogical activities which amount to more than 100 hours/academic year unless the appointing authority, after consulting DG HR, considers that this work is beneficial to the Commission.

At the same time, bear in mind that no outside activity can be performed during your normal working hours or using the equipment or even the premises of the European Commission.

In SYSPER you make an ethics request via ETHICS -> Notification and authorisations. You have to provide a lot of information related to the planned outside activity. Nevertheless, bear in mind that you need to fill in this request at least two months before starting the activity whether remunerated or not. The ethical request has to be approved up to maximum 30 days by the ethical responsible from your DG or agency. When you fill in this request you also have to take into consideration your working hours: i.e. if you are planning to do this activity during your active service, you must also still be performing within your daily job. Be aware that this outside activity must not negatively impact your work at the Commission.

Any permission for such an ethical request is granted for a maximum one year and if you want to extend it or renew it you have to submit a new application in SYSPER. Of course in any situation European Commission can approve or refuse to grant this request, but it is obligatory to justify the reason of the refusal.

We encourage you to consult the rules and to get in touch with the contact point on ethics, the ethical counsellor within the DG where are you are working or you can even get in touch with us!


[1] Note that there is also (limited) special leave available for volunteering activity: ‘Staff members who engage in voluntary work can request 1 day or 2 half-days of special leave. They must carry out the activity together with at least 3 other staff members’ (MyIntracomm).

[2] This need to have permission before moving to another role is one more difficulty for our non-permanent colleagues and it can have a significant impact on their future: e.g.  ‘currently, CA3bs are supposed to ask for permission 1 month before accepting a new job; the Commission has 1 month to respond, which is a non-sense as no employer will accept in the current job market to wait for 2 months before knowing if a prospective employee stays on the job or not’ (Report on the social dialogue at the Commission). *Update 09.02.2022, note also that the same scrutiny is not always applied to those higher up: see Central Staff Committee note  Application of Article 16 to two senior Commission officials, former Deputy Directors General of Competition + Annex (08/06/2021

[3] Check out the legal service FAQ, January 2021  for examples and reasoning.

[4] Note that renting out a property is not considered an outside activity. Point 9 in the FAQ: 9: ‘Renting one’s private home or secondary residence is clearly part of your private activities as landlord and is thus not regarded as running a business. To that extent, this is not considered as an outside activity. You do not need to ask for an authorisation. You should in any case be aware of any fiscal requirements arising from the rental income.’

[5] ‘There is a long-standing recruitment issue in Luxembourg: it is less attractive than other sites for several reasons, e.g. it is significantly more expensive than Brussels but there is no compensation for the higher accommodation costs … Further to this, some of the assistant base-grade salaries were until recently below the national poverty threshold and are now just above that threshold … Non-emergency hospital treatment currently requires even more paperwork (and expense to the individual!) than elsewhere since the agreement between the hospitals and the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS) expired and has not yet been replaced.’ Remote-working precedent: a workaround or a can of worms?


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