Wednesday

24th May 2017

EU officials on strike over pay, again

  • Council building: 'essential functions' only on Tuesday (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Most staff in the EU Council joined a strike on Tuesday (5 February), in a prickly debate on whether they get too much money.

Trade unionist Simon Coates told EUobserver the vast building in the EU quarter in Brussels is "almost empty" and that fellow officials in the European Commission and European Parliament will stage demonstrations later in the day.

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.

In a repeat of last November, the action comes 48 hours before EU leaders meet for talks on the Union's €1 trillion, 2014-to-2020 budget.

A group of net contributors - including Germany, the Netherlands and the UK - want deeper cuts in EU officials' pay to fit in with national austerity programmes.

The trade unions said in a statement that if the reductions go through "[EU] institutions would no longer be able to perform their tasks of designing, drawing up and implementing future policies."

Coates added: "The aim is to send a clear signal to the heads of state and government that behind the numbers they might agree at the end of the week, there are real men and women who work here."

For its part, German newspaper Die Welt said on Sunday that "thousands" of senior EU officials who earn a basic salary of €18,370 a month get more than German Chancellor Angela Merkel (€16,359).

The story prompted a prickly rebuttal by EU commission spokesman Antony Gravili on Monday.

He said if you count Merkel's perks, such as her Bundestag diet or special Christmas pay, she pockets about €25,000 a month.

"Not one EU official, including all their allowances, gets more than Chancellor Merkel, including all her allowances," he noted.

He claimed EU institutions are fully transparent because they publish salary scales.

EU officials also get perks, such as a 16 percent "expat allowance" and around €1,000 a month for private school fees for each child.

But Gravili declined to disclose the take-home pay of any specific EU employee, including top public figures such as foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, saying this would violate "common human decency" on the right to privacy.

He also declined to reveal the take-home pay of a hypothetical EU employee, saying commission staff do not have the time to handle the "sheer volume" of press requests on the subject.

The question of transparency already came up last year.

EU parliament chief Martin Schulz last summer asked member states to disclose how much they pay their Brussels-based diplomats in order to compare with EU staff.

He got a partial reply which he described as "a series of disaggregated data."

"I find it very worrying that you should be so anxious to hide information about your salaries," he said in a letter to the then Danish EU presidency.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

News in Brief

  1. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  2. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  3. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan
  4. Report: VW threatened with €19.7 billion French fine
  5. Turkey begins mass trial of suspected coup leaders
  6. Merkel's CDU consolidates lead in polls
  7. France to host Russian president
  8. Switzerland votes against nuclear power

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms