Friday

24th May 2019

EU officials on strike again, but talks move forward

  • Some 90 percent of Council staff did not go in to work on Wednesday (Photo: Valentina Pop)

EU officials were out on strike on Wednesday (5 June) in the latest round of a running battle with governments on reforms to the EU's staff regulation.

The walkout - which followed similar action by European Council officials in February and May - comes in protest against EU countries' demands for deeper cuts to pay and conditions.

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

EU leaders in February agreed additional savings worth €1.5 billion in the bloc's next administrative budget.

The European Commission had earlier included €1 billion of savings in its 2011 budget draft.

The fresh cuts would involve a two-year salary freeze, an increase in the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours and a hike in the retirement age from 63 to 65 years.

A group of net contributors to the bloc's budget - including Germany, the Netherlands and the UK - want to go even further: more pay cuts and retirement at 67.

The demands came despite advice from the Council's legal service that they are against EU law.

A statement issued on Wednesday by Union Syndicale, one of three bodies representing EU civil servants, said: "the objective of certain member states is to weaken the European civil service and in the process impede European construction."

Speaking with EUobserver, Simon Coates, a union official for the Federation de la Fonction Public Europeenne in the EU Council, commented that Wednesday's strike covered more than 90 percent of staff.

"Very few people came into the building today," he said.

Around one in two officials in the Council is believed to be a member of a trade union.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament's legal service has also challenged the legality of the position taken by governments.

But behind the rhetoric there are signs that a deal is within reach.

"Slowly but surely, we are moving closer to an overall package that is quite removed from the extremist position of the Council," an EU official told this website.

"The parliament is refusing to negotiate on the Council mandate but there might be room for manoeuvre on the pension age and contributions," he added.

For his part, Antony Gravili, an EU commission spokesman, also sounded an optimistic tone.

"While both the European Parliament and the commission have made clear that the Council mandate is unacceptable and not a basis for successful negotiations, the trialogue [internal talks] has been making progress on the commission's austerity and reform proposals," he said.

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.

Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election

Polling booths have opened in the UK for EU elections, with voters not knowing if Brexit will happen, if they have a prime minister, or caring that much who their MEPs will be.

Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble

Dutch voters are not interested in a 'Nexit', according to polls, but prime minister Mark Rutte warned against a Dutch EU exit on the night before the EU elections at a debate with a new anti-EU kid on the block.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us