No to cuts to EU employees' jobs, remunerations, pensions and medical care

SID questions Commission proposal to Reform once again the EU Staff Regulations


We in SID have the following questions concerning Commissioner Šefčovič
proposals to Council for reform of the EU Staff Regulations, as published June 2011 on his website(external link) and in PDF(external link)..

Now to the questions:

1. Has there been any formal technical consultation with Eurostat and other relevant services of the Commission on the proposals before they were made to Council? SID believes not.

2. Why have proposals been advanced by the Commission before Eurostat has been allowed to complete its technical work programme announced at Art.64 and Art.65 meetings in Spring 2011 and to staff representatives in GTR (GROUPE TECHNIQUE “RÉMUNÉRATIONS”) as this programme was intended to establish objective statistics to permit informed political decision making?

3. Why has there been no formal social dialogue with staff representatives on the Commission proposals before they were made to Council?

4. Does the Commissioner really see these proposals as a basis for discussion? Does he anticipate that discussion will lead to real changes in the proposals made to Council?

5. Does not the astonished and warm welcome from Council demonstrate that the Commission has actually gone much further than it needed to with these initial proposals? Will it not be difficult to step back from this opening negotiation position?

6. How has the suggested new composition of the country sample for Article 65 purposes been decided (existing 8 + PL + SW)? Why is a new sample not more representative of the variety of national civil service structures and traditions across the EU? Shouldn't it reflect the EU as a whole?

7. Why is there no suggestion for a regular formal salary benchmarking with international organisations or with relevant staff in member states? For example, isn't it true that many member state permanent representatives in Brussels get a rent allowance, an education allowance, a spouse loss of salary allowance, etc.etc. Why don't expatriate EU officials get similar treatment?

8. Why does the Commission not propose the Noblemaire(external link) principle which applies in the UN, to ensure it has future possibility to recruit high quality staff from all member countries? Why is no attempt made to correct the current situation where salary levels are simply not attractive enough to recruit and retain staff from many EU member states, notably several founder countries?

9. Why does the Commission propose to use gross salary data in future instead of net salary? If Member States modify their tax regimes or social welfare systems, doesn't this mean that the net salaries of EU officials will no longer move in parallel?

10. If the use of gross data is an attempt to correct for the current double-counting of pensions and healthcare insurances, wouldn't it be better to simply adjust for those elements alone?

11. Why isn't there any proposal to add further elements to the EU remuneration concept? For example to include 13th month, 14th month, etc payments which are typical in several EU member states.

12. Why is a proposal made to combine inflation indices for Belgium and Luxembourg? These cities are geographically separate. They have different economic and social situations. The expenditure weights used to aggregate detailed price data up to an overall index reflect the consumption habits of different populations. Isn't Brussels the correct reference city to use instead?

13. Why is there no proposal for a proper Luxembourg correction coefficient?

14. Is there any proposal to reduce the volatility of correction coefficients for duty stations outside Brussels? For example by introducing a maximum percentage increase or decrease, such as is done in the remuneration system of the Coordinated Organisations (OECD, NATO(external link), CoE(external link)).

15. Is it not dangerous to propose an automatic exception clause? Don't you think the method works correctly to ensure parallelism of EU official salaries with those in member states?

16. Why is an exception clause only foreseen when circumstances deterioriate? Why not also to allow more rapid and higher salary increases where circumstances improve?

17. Why is it still proposed to set annual pay rises by Council Regulation? Given that the Staff Regulations are binding, why can't the calculations to implement them simply be adopted by Commission Decision? Wouldn't this save significant time and expense and help avoid conflicts?

18. Why is it proposed to replace the BII (which accurately reflects EU official spending patterns) with the HICP (based on national spending patterns) given that the data needed to compile the BII is fairly easily available, logically relevant, and that the computation is not complex?

19. Why is there not greater recognition of the need and value of European Schooling? Why isn't the "special levy" ringfenced and applied to finance the EU schools? That was a promise by Commissioner Kinnock in 2004…It is also interesting to note that the "special levy" is now foreseen to be abolished in Luxembourg for the national civil servants as of 2012(external link).

20. If the Commission is so confident that it is overseeing the running of the European Schools correctly, why not allow staff an individual voucher equivalent to the average cost per pupil, and see how many stay in the system instead of switching to available alternatives?

21. Why is there no proposal to convert legal status of the European Schools to allow genuine right of appeal and legal redress? Why is there no proposal to bring EU schools within the EU treaty?

22. Why is there no proposal to require accurate cost of creating a European School to be factored into any proposal to site an agency, representation or other EU body outside Brussels/Luxembourg? Why arent' such agencies anyway sited in Brussels or Luxembourg!

23. Why is there no proposal to grant a limited right of access to staff representatives to review the data employed to compute correction coefficients?

24. Why is no revision proposed to Annex X for Extra-EU staff? Shouldn't it be harmonised with Intra-EU?

25. Is it true that different EU institutions apply different versions of the Staff Regulations? How does this contribute to equal opportunities and good relations between colleagues and administrations?

26. Isn't there a risk that adjusting the moving average period from 12 to 30 years for pensions calculations will lock us into a period of historically low interest rates which will have the effect of keeping the present value of future pension benefits artificially high, requiring us to pay significantly higher annual pension contributions than we would do otherwise?

27. Isn't the comparison with national pension systems irrelevant? So what if they have not converted to actuarial bases long ago? If our system is in balance, why change it - especially as we already had a big reform in 2004 the effects of which are still to be fully felt.

28. What guarantees are given that acquired rights of existing staff will be fully protected. Doesn't a unilateral change such as this constitute a constructive dismissal of staff, giving them the right to compensation?

29. Does Commission accept that one of the features of civil service is loyalty and dedication of staff, in contrast to the situation in much of private sector? How does Commission expect to maintain that engagement with imposition of controversial unilateral change?

30. How is the switch from 37.5 to 40 hours per week justified? Where does the table of "effective working hours in public sector of selected member states" on the Commissioner's website come from? What about the situation in other EU countries? And comparable international organisations? Are we sure we are comparing like with like?
Isn't it anyway more important to focus on the quality of results achieved than the fact of being present for a fixed quantity of time?

31. If the real reason for the proposals is to save administrative costs, wouldn't it be fairer to insist on stopping excessive waste such as the circus of Parliament moving between Strasbourg and Brussels?

32. How can the Commissioner explain that currently certain Staff are paid less than the minimum wage of the country they work in. In the case of Luxembourg, the minimum salary of the qualified worker is calculated as the absolute minimum salary of €1757.56 + 20% (€2109.07)(external link). But a Contractual Agent in FG I/1/1 's salary is only €1847.76 and for an FG I/2/1 is €2090.12 and even for FG II/4/2 is €1959.10. How can Commissioner Šefčovič explain these facts morally? Are these actions lawful?

33. Following a policy of zero recruitment growth while expanding EU to 27 countries and adding much to the workload of our colleagues, and after the extravaganza of creating a new institution (European External Action Service(external link)) at exorbitant costs to the EU taxpayers, now comes Commissioner Šefčovič's attempts to balance his books by introducing a series of negative measures starting with a 5% job cuts. How can Commissioner Šefčovič justify this morally? How will this improve EU Commission's labour relations image in the World? How will this action enhance Commission's image as a World Class organization?

The Commissioner Šefčovič's proposal does not solve the Financial Crisis which is created by the big Banks and Corporations who refuse more and more to pay their real due taxes to the society. He has not defended Commission Staff infront of the Council while Commission's administrative budget was reduced by 8.5% while for the other institutions this was increased by 16.3%(external link) extra administrative budget.

By cutting our jobs (external link)and salaries the European Commission will only demoralize an already demoralized Staff further. And this action will only make EU regress instead of going forward. And the interests of the EU citizens will not be preserved as well as before. Also in no way these cuts are foreseen to affect the Commissioners' entitelments(external link) or their jobs.

De-regulations have not helped and will not help the EU Citizens' Rights or reduce the financial problems in Europe. They only help Corporations make more profits at the expense of everyone else. How is this moraly justified.

Finally, by denying certain trade union representatives access to documents necessary for their work , European Commission is not acting in good keeping with Articles 27, 28 and 42 of EUCFR(external link). This action does not in any way put European Commission's Human Resources in a very good light.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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Reza Fardoom
SID Secretary
S olidarity with those who work for their money
I ndependence from those who don't
D emocracy in all decisions taken by groups of sane, adult humans

SID - Solidarity, Independence, Democracy is an independent Trade Union of all EU Institutions employees (Je souhaite adhérer au SID…)