Friday

25th May 2018

MEPs back cost-cutting on EU staff

MEPs have backed changes to working conditions for EU officials designed to save over €1 billion a year and to improve ethical standards.

The legal affairs committee in Brussels on Tuesday (25 April) voted through the new staff regulation by 19 against three with two abstentions. The Green group was the main malcontent, after its amendment on a higher tax for salaries of top officials failed to make the final cut.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The text, based on a European Commission proposal from December, is still at an early stage of adoption in the EU process. "It will give us a stronger negotiating position with the Council [EU member states]. But it is too early to speculate when it might enter into force," a parliament official said.

The main provisions on cost-cutting include: a five percent reduction of the 55,000-or-so staff employed in the 50 EU institutions and agencies around Europe; an increase in the retirement age from 63 to 65; a hike in the mini-income-tax or "solidarity levy" on salaries from 4.23 percent to 6 percent; a new way of calculating pensions that will see lower pay-outs for staff who joined more recently; and smaller grants for people who move from their home countries to Brussels or Luxembourg.

The committee also backed a new "exception" clause for the mechanism which governs salary increases. Currently, EU officials get an automatic wage increase if national civil servants in a basket of select member states get one. But under the new rule, EU salaries can be frozen if there is a "negative macroeconomic" climate.

On the ethics front, senior officials are to be banned from lobbying their former colleagues for 12 months after leaving their post. They will also be blocked from lobbying while taking temporary personal leave.

On top of this, each institution will have to create a new "procedure" for protecting whistleblowers to make sure their complaints are handled more confidentially and more quickly.

The German centre-left MEP in charge of the dossier, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, said her tweaks of the commission proposal will ensure there is no "lawn-mower cut" of 5 percent of staff imposed from above, but instead it will be "left to the institutions themselves to decide how they make the savings." Parliament sources previously told EUobserver the cuts will mostly affect staff on long-term sick leave or near retirement age rather than active personnel.

Austrian Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger noted: "These proposals [on lobbying and whistleblowers] would be a major step forward for the transparency and integrity of the EU administration."

Discussions leading up to Tuesday's vote saw some colourful interventions by other deputies.

Centre-right Italian MEP Raffaele Baldassare said the new rules should try breathe fresh air into a stagnant culture "of automatic promotions due to seniority."

In remarks on how to set up a new so-called "SC" staff grade for secretaries, German liberal Alexandra Thein said rules on language skills should be relaxed because it is not necessary to speak several languages to make photocopies. She noted that mostly Belgians should be hired for the relatively low-paid work, adding that if this means mainly women with few qualifications, it is not so important because most of them will have husbands who bring in a second wage.

A commission study attached to the December proposal says the savings would be modest in the early phase of adoption (some €65 million a year in 2013). But they would climb to almost €1.3 billion a year by 2060.

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.

MEPs award themselves €1,500 more in staff expenses

As European citizens come to terms with the array of austerity measures being doled out across the union at the insistence of EU and international lenders, MEPs have voted to increase the money they use for expenses.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

Opinion

Europe's budget stasis

The EU's budgetary muddling through might not be enough when the next crisis hits.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations