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European Commission - Press release

Commission responds to economic climate: more value for money from the European Civil Service

Brussels, 29 June 2011 - The Commission has today backed a series of proposed changes to staff rules in a continuing drive for greater efficiency and economy.

The current economic climate calls for ambitious measures not only from public administrations in Member States, but also from European institutions and agencies. So the Commission has authorised Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič to start consulting staff representatives on draft proposals which would lead to savings of more than €1 billion by 2020. The Commission will present a formal proposal to the Council and European Parliament later this year.

The draft proposals include:

  • A 5% reduction of staff in all categories in all institutions over the period 2013-17, through normal turnover of staff (retirements and restraint in concluding new contracts).

  • An increase in the minimum working week for all staff in all institutions from generally 37.5 hours to 40 hours, without compensatory wage adjustments.

  • Access to all top of career grades to depend on success in a selection procedure.

  • The normal retirement age will increase from 63 to 65. The possibility of working voluntarily until 67 will be made easier and more attractive.

  • The minimum age for early retirement with reduction of acquired pension rights will increase from 55 to 58.

  • The minimum age for early retirement without reduction of acquired pension rights will also increase from 55 to 58. Access to this scheme, which currently applies to about 80 people a year across all institutions, will be limited even further.

  • The method used for annual adjustments to salaries and pensions will be simplified and extended for another 8 years. As of 1 January 2013, Sweden and Poland will be added to the basket of eight Member States used to track the evolution of national civil servants' spending power - a key element of the method. A new exception clause will allow the institutions to react appropriately to an economic crisis when considering the annual adjustment. This method would be accompanied by a new solidarity levy of 5.5%, applicable from 1 January 2013 until 31 December 2020.

  • Secretarial and clerical tasks in the institutions will be carried out by contractual staff rather than officials with lifetime appointments. In future, staff will be recruited to these functions as contract agents with the possibility of obtaining contracts of unlimited duration.

  • The maximum number of leave days granted to staff for their annual trip to their home Member State will be reduced from 6 to 2 (standard in other international organisations).

  • The possibility for each institution to establish flexible working arrangements will be made explicit in the staff rules, in order to bring more clarity to the debate about family-friendly working conditions. Management will not be allowed to participate in these general arrangements.

The measures, which will need to be implemented by all institutions, would not only allow the EU to freeze the administrative expenditure for the functioning of the institutions until 2020, but also to reduce the administrative cost of agencies and other bodies of the EU which are financed from other parts of the budget.

The drive for greater efficiency began long before the current crisis. The draft proposals build on a major overhaul of staff rules in 2004 that has already delivered savings of €3 billion, and will save another €5 billion between now and 2020. This was the first comprehensive reform of the European civil service since 1968, transforming it into one of the most modern of its time. Changes included the introduction of a performance-oriented and merit-based new career structure, a new contractual status for personnel fulfilling non-core tasks, a reform of the pension system, new working methods and family-friendly working conditions.

In recent years, the Commission has followed a policy of zero growth in posts, met new political priorities through internal redeployment of staff, and put in place tools and procedures to improve its internal organisation and efficiency. In April, it proposed to freeze administrative expenditure for the year 2012.

Given the significant reduction of benefits in 2004, including the lowering of entry salaries, the draft proposals have to strike a careful balance between maximising value for money and safeguarding the ability of the institutions to deliver their policies. This includes the need to attract and retain multilingual staff of the highest calibre in various fields of expertise from all 27 Member States, who are ready to live outside their home country with their families.

Administrative expenditure represents around 6% of the EU's budget, which itself represents roughly 1% of EU GDP.

Please see: MEMO/11/473

Contacts :

Antonio Gravili (+32 2 295 43 17)

Marilyn Carruthers (+32 2 299 94 51)


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