Thursday

21st Feb 2019

Commission takes EU states to court in salary dispute

  • Commission takes council to court over salary dispute (Photo: Fotolia)

A tit-for-tat dispute between the European Commission and member states over civil servant salary increases will now end up in court.

“The European Commission has today decided to take the Council to the Court of Justice for failing to adopt the council regulation on the annual adjustment to the remuneration and pensions of EU staff as anticipated in the staff regulations,” the executive said in a statement on Wednesday (11 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The move comes after the council - representing member states - refused to sign off a 1.7 percent EU civil servant salary hike.

The commission says salaries are entitled under staff regulations to be adjusted automatically to national cost of living inidices and to the evolution of civil service salaries in eight member states (Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom).

Basic monthly commission salaries range from around €2,300 per month for a newly recruited AST 1 official to around €16,000 per month for a top-level AD 16 official with over four years of experience.

Last year EU civil servants were awarded the 1.7 percent increase but the austerity strapped EU-27, who collectively give the executive around €130 billion every year, have since changed their mind.

Member states in favour of the freeze had already made a formal request last November for the commission to invoke an exception clause. The clause could allow the commission to cap the salaries given the tough economic climate netted out upon the rest of Europe.

Around 1,000 commission staff responded by staging a protest on 22 November and effectively threatening a strike. Salary cuts, they demanded, should only be shaved off from the higher-grade officials.

A vast majority of EU civil servants live and reside in Belgium where inflation is expected to top three percent. The commission points out that despite the three percent inflation increase, they have agreed to a cut in salary in real terms for those residing in Brussels by accepting only a 1.7 percent increase.

The executive says efforts are already under way to cut its expenses and reduce staff numbers by one in 20 between 2013 and 2017. They also intend to lengthen the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours and raise retirement age from 63 to 65. Altogether, this should cut expenses by €1 billion by 2020, according to administration commissioner Maros Sefcovic.

The commission and the council already faced off over the issue two years ago at the Court of Justice. The commission won the decision. Its staff saw a 3.7 percent salary increase.

The executive is already suffering from a bad overall public image. A flash survey conducted by the commission near the end of December found a majority of Europeans have lost their trust in the EU institutions.

EU staff to go on strike

EU staff unions have reiterated their threat to go on strike after negotiations with the European Commission failed to produce an agreement on pay and pensions.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  2. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  3. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  4. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  5. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  6. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  7. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  8. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us