Brussels, 9 February 2018
Note to Mr Günther OETTINGER
Commissioner in charge of Budget and Human resources
Subject: Multiannual financial framework, your request made to the unions on 19 December 2017
Réf. : Note of 19 January 2018 from Mrs Souka to the representative trade unions
First of all, we would like to thank you for consulting unions in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the new financial perspectives 2021-2027 and more particularly on heading V (“Administration”).
Unfortunately, in the past, all our requests have not been taken in account, giving the Impression that the Staff was the expendable adjustment value in the negotiations with the Member States. Such attitude made relations with the College of Commissioners more difficult. Therefore, we can only welcome the sensitivity and openness that you have shown on this occasion. Our common goal, in a difficult and uncertain context with many challenges to overcome, is, to build the future together in close cooperation.
Below you will find our ideas and concerns that we would like to bring to your attention:
I. Background to the general context
We support the position you have jointly expressed with Commissioner Cretu in your “Reflection paper on the future of EU finances” (link) and on which we mark our full agreement:
“Finally, the sound implementation of EU policies relies on a strong and efficient European civil service. Since 2013, the EU institutions have been fulfilling their commitment to reduce their staffing level. This happened despite the addition of new responsibilities, for example in handling the refugee crisis or dealing with security threats, or in the EU delegations abroad. The future EU budget should therefore make provision for a strong European civil service, attractive to talented young people from across the Union, and capable of delivering on the priorities that result from this reflection process. Decisions on future policies and instruments should take account of the impact on human resources.
A further reduction in staff levels could jeopardise the good functioning of the EU institutions. Similarly, previous reforms have reduced salaries and increased working time and pension age. There is clearly a declining interest among young people from Member States with relatively high per capita incomes in joining the EU institutions. While working conditions may only be one factor in such decisions, the trend is clear.” (extract – pages 23 and 24 of the “Reflection paper on the future of EU finances”)
This position, which we wish to thank you once again, must be the point of reference for all future discussions.
The negotiation of heading V can in no way be again a downward adjustment . It cannot become the pretext for a further reduction of the workforce and further deterioration of working conditions after those imposed by the last two statutory reforms that have negatively impacted wages, pensions, longer working hours, increased the retirement age, frozen wages for 2 consecutive years, etc.
The consequences of this deterioration especially for new colleagues, have led to a tangible loss of attractiveness of the European civil service to such an extent that, as you constantly remind it rightly, it has now become very difficult to attract the best candidates, particularly in several Member States. This, in the long run, will be totally detrimental for our institutions,, and for the interests of the Union. In addition such situation will not assure a true geographical balance both in terms of recruitment and of the services function..
Political support at the highest level of our institution is essential to ensure the continuity and reinforcement of an independent, competent, efficient and honest public service that can meet the challenges that lie ahead, in particular the post-Brexit,
We therefore ask you to continue to reiterate that it is only throughout the dedication of the staff that, despite this very difficult context, EU policies have been able to continue to be implemented for the benefit of European citizens.
II. Our specific requests
In view of the above and in the framework of the current negotiations on the new Financial Perspective, particularly its heading V, we ask you to:
* oppose with the utmost determination any further attempt to reduce and deteriorate the working conditions that the Council will want to lead, within the framework of the MFF, to further penalize our staff under the pretext of wanting to save money.
It is essential that the institutions are provided with the necessary and indispensable resources to guarantee the competence, permanence and independence of the European public service, Recruitment should be ensured on a wide geographical basis with real attractiveness and respecting the principle of equality access to our public service. The staff of our institution, for years, had to submit to the imperative: “do more with less human resources”. The importance of the tasks entrusted to us requires that they can be carried out with the appropriate means.
We must also oppose any attempt to question the above principles, always under the pretext of ensuring savings, by introducing a massive contractualisation of our staff. Precariousness, the lack of real prospects for careers and the creation of various status or categories among staff can only lead to division, without improving the performance of the Institution.
A. Concerning the salary adjustment method
The salary adjustment method is a shield against social disorder and a legal guarantee offered by the Staff Regulations. As such, it must be defended by providing the institutions with the necessary resources for its application
B. Concerning Annex X
The questioning of Annex X during the reform of the Staff Regulations in 2014 has made the work and living conditions in the delegations much more difficult without taking into account the constraints imposed on expatriate staff and without guaranteeing the conditions of security.
C. Concerning pensions
Our pension system is financially sound and the “Pension Contribution Adjustment Method” ensures balance with very short reaction times (annual monitoring).
The agents have always ensured their share in the financing of the system (this was not the case of the Member States during the first decades, retirements being then very limited) and will not accept a questioning of its parameters. The same can be said for the health insurance scheme that should not be questioned either.
D. Concerning the European Schools
The European Schools remain indispensable as support structures for the education of the children of European expatriate agents and also for the dissemination of European culture, especially for sites located far from Brussels. Brexit raises the question of the future of English-speaking sections and their funding, knowing that they stir children of non-British nationals who however want English education to be provided.
E. Concerning interinstitutional management of horizontal services
The widest possible interinstitutional management of all horizontal services could provide substantial operating savings.
F. Concerning the building policy
It is essential, in line with the transparency of tender procedures to continue, the efforts to obtain the best possible conditions.
While the use of open space solutions must be firmly rejected, substantial savings appear to be possible on removal expenditure incurred each year.
Too often, these relocations of services are aimed at ensuring the implementation of unnecessary and even capricious reorganisations desired by the senior management of our institution, especially on the occasion of the inauguration of a new DG, without DG HR be able to ensure real control.
G. Regarding the situation of our colleagues in Luxembourg
It is clear that this staff suffers a disparity in purchasing power which has increased since 2006 (- 5.7%) to reach – 11.9% at the end of 2017.
This situation is no longer tenable and a Luxembourg-specific correction coefficient must be established at the earliest, without jeopardizing the rights of the rest of the staff, in particular the colleagues assigned to Brussels or to the other sites of the Commission.
Cristiano Sebastiani Alliance – Secretary / R&D
Raúl Trujillo Herrera – Rosario De Simone / TAO-AFI
Giustina Sciarrabone / Conf – SFE
Miguel Vicente-Nunez / USL
Emilio Di Meglio / SE
Mr J-C JUNCKER, President of the European Commission
Mr A. ITALIANER, Secretary General
Mrs I. SOUKA, Director-General DG HR