Commission walking right into the Council’s trap:
To understand what the 17 Member States really demand from the Commission for its proposal for a reform of the Staff Regulations one needs to read between the lines. Here is a little Vademecum to this zealot vision of the future of EU staff:
1. Salary adjustment method:
- The exception clause is to be used as a discretionary tool year by year for the Council to block any salary adjustments if it so pleases. Such a mechanism would make a mockery of any method and the underlying principles of maintaining both purchasing power and parallelism with Member States’ civil service salaries. Instead the Council intentions risk leading to annual salary negotiations and a break of the social peace with regular paralysation of the institutions.
- Basis for pension claim to become an average of the salaries throughout the entire career instead of the last salary before retirement;
- Higher pension contribution despite equilibrium of the EU pension scheme;
- Increase of employees’ share of pension contribution (at present 1/3);
- Elimination or reduction of the ‘Barcelona incentive’ for staff working beyond their retirement age, in order to acquire higher pension rights for those who have not yet accumulated a sufficient number of contribution years;
- Elimination of the possibility of early retirement without penalty;
- Taxation of pensions: 6 % ‘solidarity levy’ also to be raised on present and future pensioners;
- Decoupling of pensions from salary adaptation and method for active staff (certainly not leading to a more favourable treatment for retired staff);
- Decoupling of family allowances from salary adaptation and method.
3. Special/Solidarity Levy
- Increase of the special levy – an extra flat rate tax on salaries – to 6%
- Non-progressive application of this de-facto income tax to all EU staff ‘across the board’, no matter what their income level.
4. Career Structure
- Elimination of the principle of merit over time;
- Elimination of Annex IB (promotion rates);
- Promotions only upon application to a vacant post in a higher grade;
- Cap of AD careers for non managers at lower level;
- Limitation of all AST careers;
- Secretary function to be abolished in favour of contract agents;
Reduction of the expatriation allowance from 16% to 10%.
6. Delegated Acts
For the implementation of a future method and its calculation, the Council wishes to refuse to grant the Commission the use of a ‘delegated act’ under Art 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU – ‘Lisbon Treaty’). This provision guarantees a swift implementation of legally binding rules in cases where a basic principle (the method and its calculation) requires only pre-defined technical adjustment. The Council reiterates once again that it wishes to decide on a case-by-case bases each year whether it pleases or not to respect the legal requirements of an agreed salary adaptation method.
The negotiations between the Commission and Staff Reps so brutally cut off by Vice President Šef?ovi? on the night of 16th November 2011 were only about the Commission proposal, the first step in the legislative procedure. The true battle is still ahead with Council and Parliament.
The attached document gives us a flavour of what to expect. Next week the Barroso Commission could walk into this lion’s den without the backing of the EU institutions’ staff. The Commission risks to lead to a very poor final result for everybody thus putting the very EU project at peril over the medium term