EU civil servants pension reform gets go-ahead
EU foreign affairs ministers have approved a controversial pension reform for EU civil servants, which is set to increase their pension age and make new entrants work more years to receive the maximum level of pension.
The deal came after the Unions, representing thousands of EU civil servants, backed down from their request to change the proposals and yesterday (29 September) gave the go-ahead for the proposed reforms.
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Germany, Austria and Denmark, however, voted against it feeling the changes did not go far enough.
These new rules, proposed by the Commission in 1999, will come into force by May 2004 when 10 new countries join the EU bloc.
According to the new rules, the staff retiring age will be raised from 60 to 63, however, up to 10% of the civil servants will be able to retire beforehand - under certain conditions.
The monthly salary contributions to the pension fund will also decrease from 2 to 1.9 % each year, making it harder for EU officials to reach the maximum level of pension.
Another controversial change is that pensions will not be adjusted according to the prices of the capital city where the EU civil servant will have their pension, but according to the country as a whole - meaning that some EU civil servants could be receiving a lower pension than what they are receiving now.
The present measure being abolished, known as "coefficients capitale" allows pensioners to have the same buying power irrespective of where they reside.
Unions complained that prices in capital cities are generally higher than in the rest of the country, and that this measure also risks hindering the free movement of persons at their pension age.
Financing of European political parties
Agreement was also reached on the financing of the pan-European parties, where 8.4 million euro will be made available from the Community budget from July next year.
In order to qualify for the money, parties have to be represented in at least a quarter of the member states of the European Union.
Otherwise, the party must have obtained at least three percent of the votes cast in the most recent European elections in each, of at least four, member states.