You have all received a few days ago an email by the Director General of Human Resources informing you (and the broad public via a press release) that this year despite an inflation rate of 2.7% in Belgium, salaries would be adapted only by +0.4% in Brussels/Luxembourg and even negatively in most other sites. HR declares that this would be according to the method laid down in our Staff Regulation.

This latest information obviously was meant to correct an erroneous message that had been conveyed a month earlier when the Commissioner for Human Resources, Maros Sefcovic, had called a press conference. Instead of defending the value of a highly qualified and motivated largely expatriate staff for which he is responsible, he boasted in public about a reduction of 0.4% of our base salaries, based on preliminary (and as it turns out: incomplete) first Eurostat estimates.

So what’s behind all these contradicting messages?

Of course, this is not the end of the story yet. Several other factors will determine the real amount on your payslips next year.

  • Our pension contribution will decrease by 0.3% thus increasing net salaries: the contribution rate will fall from 11.3 to 11%, as of July 2010.
  • A last round of increase to the ‘special levy’ – a progressive hidden income tax – will decrease our salaries by an average of 0.2% (depending on the individual situation) from 1st January 2011.
  • In early November – legally too late for the present Commission proposal to the Council – the German Parliament adopted a retroactive salary increase of 1.2% for German officials. This needs to be taken into account for our 2010 salary adaptation, and might account for another 0.3% increase either in a last minute update of the Council Regulation or in a second retroactive increase sometime early next year.

So far for the ‘certainties’ amounting to a net impact of around half a percentage point in total.

Overall, quite a number of issues remain pending for the time being, and your final payslip for 2011 is quite simply unknown at this point of time.

  • Trade Unions have asked Eurostat to review the very heavy negative impact of a new compulsory health insurance scheme on German officials’ net pay
  • All the while we are waiting for the outcome of the Court of Justice ruling on the illegal cut in 2009 of our 3.7% adaptation by the Council. Given the rather clear legal setting R&D remain convinced that within the next few months, if not weeks, the ruling will force the Council to agree to adding the second half of the 2009 increase, namely 1.85% to our payroll. Retroactively, from 1st July 2009.

This would of course also increase the base for this year’s meagre adjustment.

  • R&D calls for a professional communication policy by the Commission with regard to the method for salary adaptation. While economic conditions – and pay rises – are picking up again in many EU countries our representatives are boasting in order to please Member States.

  • R&D invites both Commissioner Sefcovic and DG HR to defend the interests of the institution and its staff, and to refrain from bending in a highly undignified way to aggressive Member States breaching their own rules and to an EU bashing press.

  • R&D demand Eurostat to review the impact of the German officials’ new health contribution obligation that was a major factor of the meagre outcome of the method for this year.

  • R&D demand that both Council and the Commission services prepare for a swift implementation of a possible favourable Court of Justice ruling, in order not to further delay the payments due since last year.

R&D has been fiercely defending the principle of the statutory method of annual pay adjustment. In an overall hostile environment against European integration on the whole and EU staff in particular it is ever more important to have a method that works.
Let’s not forget that overall, officials lost roughly 6% of their purchasing power since the introduction of the Kinnock staff regulation in 2004 and the ‘reform’ to the original method that dates back to 1991.

R&D will continue to fight for an improved result of the method for 2010/2011