De Jong rejects agreement in principle on EU officials’ salaries

7 March 2014

De Jong rejects agreement in principle on EU officials’ salaries

The member state governments today concluded an agreement on the longstanding conflict over salaries for European Union officials in the period 2011-2012. ‘The member states are under pressure to agree to a salary increase despite a recent agreement to maintain a pay freeze. At the same time the officials, who in addition to their sometimes skyhigh salaries get all sorts of perks, don’t find the offer sufficient and are planning to take action. This is the world turned upside down. Civil servants in the Netherlands earn a pittance compared to their EU colleagues, yet for a number of years they have seen a salary freeze imposed. It’s clear that EU officials live in an ivory tour. Instead of taking action for higher salaries, they’d be better showing solidarity with their national colleagues.’

Dennis de JongThe SP Euro-MP has long criticised the level of salaries in Brussels. ‘I recently proposed, for example, that the highest salaries in Brussels should be equal to those of civil servants in countries like the Netherlands and Germany,’ recalls De Jong. ‘That would come down to an effective halving. I also want to see the so-called expatriate bonus, which is an addition of 16% on top of your salary for working abroad, scrapped. Perhaps in the early days of European cooperation working in Brussels was exotic and additional compensation could be justified. That is, however, no longer the case and so it’s incomprehensible that officials should continue to receive a bonus instead of a direct refund of the costs of removal and any initial expenses after your arrival.’

The agreement in principle includes a stipulation that EU officials will get no additional pay for 2011 but that for 2012 they will receive an additional 0.8%. The Council of Ministers had previously insisted on a freeze, a decision backed by the European Court of Justice, which ruled that the extraordinary economic situation meant that the Council should be allowed to refuse the usual raise. The agreement still has to be formally approved by the European Parliament. ‘The Parliament for the most part takes the officials’ side,’ says De Jong. ‘I expect them to vote for the agreement in principle. Hopefully after the EP elections we will see a Parliament in which a fundamental discussion of officials’ salaries will become possible. The SP will continue to make proposals for serious changes to the European civil service and their salaries.’

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