Third language criterion for promotion – Art. 45.2

First promotions for officials in grades AST1 – AST3 – AD5

An increasing number of colleagues in the so-called ‘entry grades’ AST1 – AST3 – AD5 fails to get their first promotion although they have attained the required merits and seniority. Why? Because they fail to prove a sufficient level of knowledge in a third Community language.


What is this all about?

The Staff Regulations stipulate in their Article 45.2:

‘Officials shall be required to demonstrate before their first promotion after recruitment the ability to work in a third language…..’

Now, while this may not be a problem for many colleagues who arrive at the Commission with three or more active languages, others enter the institution with the required minimum of two Community languages. They need to arrive at level 6 of the Commission courses (or equivalent B2 in a language school) within their first two to three years in the institution, in order to become eligible for their first promotion. This is not always easy, and overlooked by some.

There are different means to prove your knowledge of a 3rd language (more information here)

  • through courses at the Commission (level 6). You get priority access (click on Art 45.2)
  • through private language schools (level B2)
  • through an EPSO test if you already master a third language and need no more training. See calendar here


Talk urgently to your hierarchy and Human Resources Unit: they have to support your language learning so you can get promoted as soon as possible.

  • sign up immediately for the missing courses with ‘priority Art 45.2’
  • it is still possible to pass up two levels this year at the Commission (2 summer intensive courses in July and August)


How much time do you have to prove your third language for promotion in 2016 ?

Until 31 December 2016. Even if promotions are published before that date, there is always a second publication of late promotions that will become effective retroactively on the 1st Jan 2016.

For more information on this issue please also read the administrative info published on Intracomm at the following link

Can I change my third language if I do not like it?

No. At least not if you are doing the courses at the Commission. If you choose a third language in the beginning and want to proof B2 level exclusively (never having applied for a Commission course), please get in touch with your DG’s Human Resources unit to see whether they can agree a change in language with the responsible department in the language training services of the Commission. But it is a lot safer with a view to promotion to stay with your original choice.

What for further promotions after the first one?

No problem. A language requirement exists only for the first promotion after joining the EU.