R&D calls on the Administration to reinforce its support for the 50 colleague-run leisure clubs in Brussels, which play a key role in strengthening social cohesion and the well-being of staff!

R&D stresses the importance of leisure clubs, especially in the new hybrid working environment, where social interaction and cohesion are more than ever crucial for the physical and mental health of staff and our retired colleagues

With this new hybrid way of working, staff have found a certain balance between their professional and private lives, much to our satisfaction. However, we are obliged to rethink our social policy within the institution in order to adapt it to the needs of this new era.

Even if we don’t necessarily come into the office every day, social cohesion can still be guaranteed   

Indeed, social cohesion is a key priority for R&D, which puts humans at the heart of its priorities. R&D is a staunch advocate of a sound and healthy social policy that actively contributes to the well-being of its staff.

Leisure clubs, set up and run by colleagues, are an effective way of maintaining social cohesion and building strong links between colleagues. They are also essential for keeping in touch with retired colleagues. 

It is clear that leisure clubs deserve much more support to meet staff expectations! 

This is why R&D is calling for an appropriate increase in the subsidies granted to leisure clubs (currently limited to just 42,000€ for all clubs) (SIC!) to meet the new needs arising from our new hybrid working mode within our institution and to facilitate clubs’ access to Commission and European School premises.

We must avoid imposing too much unnecessary bureaucracy on leisure clubs!

At present, the leisure clubs have submitted their applications for accreditation and subsidies, which will have to be approved by the Joint Committee for Social Actions (COPAS) in June. This year, DG HR introduced new guidelines requiring these clubs to become non-profit associations (ASBL) rather than de facto associations (AdF), in order to give colleagues legal protection in the event of a dispute.

While R&D recognises that legal protection may be necessary in certain cases, we do not believe that it should be a source of additional administrative hassle for our colleagues.

Indeed, for clubs with a limited number of members, an ASBL may not be the best option. Furthermore, club applications should be encouraged and facilitated through simplified administrative procedures. Finally, it is important to note that in over 50 years of existence, no major conflicts have arisen and the activities of the clubs are regularly monitored by the « Groupement des cercles de loisirs ».

Access to the Commission facilities

When it comes to access to Commission facilities used by leisure clubs , the European Interinstitutional Centre (CIE) in Overijse deserves special mention.

We are very proud of this sports centre, which has been operating since 1974. It is used not only by colleagues for their leisure activities, but also by their children.

This CIE, which is of great importance to us, was at risk of closing its doors for good. However, thanks in part to our efforts, the Commission finally decided to renovate it and it continues to exist to the delight of active and retired colleagues and their children.

Furthermore, thanks to the substantial investment made in recent years by our OIB colleagues – whom we’d like to thank for their commitment – the CIE remains a popular venue for a whole range of activities, including sports and outdoor activities during the Easter and summer holidays, as well as team-building events.  This helps to build social cohesion among colleagues.

However, it is of the utmost importance to take all necessary measures to ensure the long-term financial viability of the CIE by increasing its operational capacity, for example by extending its opening hours and providing catering services.

In this respect, DG HR must also redouble its efforts to encourage Commission departments to organise their “away days” at the CIE, which offers a full range of services, rather than opting for other, often very expensive, venues.

Access to the European School facilities

With regard to access by leisure clubs to European School facilities, it is totally unacceptable that clubs are forced to pay unreasonable prices: the Commission must intervene immediately to demand that this unacceptable practice be stopped!

R&D welcomes the « Be Well at Work” programme and its 2022-2025 action plan

We strongly believe that these initiatives need to be more widely promoted and integrated into our daily working lives in order to improve our overall wellbeing. In this respect, we invite DG HR to launch a communication campaign to raise awareness of these initiatives and also to introduce these clubs to all staff.

R&D recommendations

R&D‘s recommendations are summed up in four points :

  • 1. Full support for leisure clubs: they encourage greater social interaction between colleagues, which is important in our hybrid working environment. 
  • 2.  A guarantee that the clubs will continue to have access to the Van Merlant sports complex and the European Schools facilities under acceptable conditions.
  • 3. More training, awareness and prevention campaigns on well-being at work organised by DG HR
  • 4. More places allocated to promote social interaction between colleagues in our buildings. R&D will continue to offer free conferences with leading experts to help colleagues and improve well-being at work.


R&D works at all levels, and in particular within the Joint Social Action Committee (COPAS), to improve and strengthen the Commission’s social policy.

If you have any suggestions, please let us know and will take them into account in our negotiations with the administration.

Together, we will create the more inclusive and social policy that our colleagues so  richly deserve.  

Cristiano Sebastiani,



For further information: Be well at work

Here is some information about the Be well Guidelines, which are not yet available on SharePoint, and the “Be Well at Work” action plan summary.

Action Plan-Be Well at Work” Summary

The “Be Well at Work” Action Plan for 2022-2025 aims to improve the overall health and well-being of European Commission staff through an integrated approach based on three pillars: physical well-being, mental well-being, and well-being at work. It proposes concrete actions such as promoting healthy lifestyles, improving ergonomic working conditions, and supporting reintegration after long absences due to illness. The document also places particular emphasis on mental health through awareness-raising and psychosocial support and adapts to the realities of post-COVID-19 hybrid work. Finally, it promotes work-life balance through flexible teleworking options and various family support measures.