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Permanent officials

What does a permanent official do?

With its unique remit and multicultural working environment, the Commission is unlike any other organisation in the world. Whatever your profile, the sheer range of fields in which the Commission operates may well contain just the right job for you.

Commission officials do a wide range of tasks that are divided up into three categories: administrators (AD), assistants (AST) and Secretaries/clerks (AST/SC).

As an administrator you can find yourself playing a key role in the EU's legislative and budgetary processes, from coordinating the broad economic policies of the Member States, taking part in negotiations with non-EU countries, helping run the common agricultural policy, or ensuring that Community law is uniformly interpreted and effectively applied. Whatever you do, the broad range of the EU's activities means that you can expect a high degree of responsibility from an early stage in your career.

As an assistant you may play an important role in the internal management of the Commission, notably in budgetary and financial affairs, personnel work, computing or librarianship. You may also assist in implementing policies in various areas of EU activities.

As a secretary/clerk you may play an important role being responsible for secretarial and clerical work and ensuring the efficient operation of an administrative unit.

How to become a permanent official

Permanent officials are selected by open competitions organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). EPSO deals with personnel selection not only for the Commission but also for all the other European Institutions. Open competitions are published in the Official Journal and announced on the EPSO website.

Open Competitions have tests and assessment exercises designed to measure your professional skills and a number of core competencies. Generally, it takes 5-9 months to complete the selection procedure, starting from the date of publication of the competition notice. The schedule of current and planned competitions as well as some sample tests are available on the EPSO website.

Specific competitions can also be held for middle management and senior management positions. Find out more...

To be a successful candidate at any level, you will need to show ability, knowledge, initiative and motivation. Of course, in order to be considered for the selection process, you will first need to meet the eligibility criteria (qualifications, professional experience, etc.) of a given competition, as published in the Official Journal. 

The requirements will always be equal to or higher than the minimum eligibility standards for the 'assistants' and 'administrators' and 'secretary and clerk' groups, which are set out in the Staff Regulations (Article 5(3)). In any case, you must be a national of one of the EU countries (though specific exceptions can be made to prepare for EU enlargements), you must have fulfilled any obligations concerning military service, be physically fit to perform your duties, produce suitable character references, and have a thorough knowledge of one of the EU's official languages and a satisfactory knowledge of another.

Applying for work

Applicants who pass a competition are placed on a reserve list from which the institutions draw recruits as and when they need them. These lists are published in the Official Journal. Once on a reserve list, candidates can be recruited to a vacant post by any interested service in the Commission.

Commission departments look at reserve lists after they have considered internal candidates when they are searching for the right people to fill vacant posts. To ensure that the information made available is constantly up to date, you are invited to enter your CV (and to keep it up to date) via the application EU CV online.

If you are on the reserve list, you may be selected for a job interview at one of the EU institutions (the Commission).

You will also need to undergo a medical check by the Commission's medical service, before being formally recruited.

Ultimately, you will receive a formal job offer from the HR Directorate-General confirming that you have been recruited to work at the Commission. Being on the reserve list does not guarantee that you will be recruited to a permanent official's position. Reserve lists for generalist competitions are valid for 1 year. For other profiles, they are valid for longer.

Career and benefits

Career path

The Commission's career system consists of a single pay scale with 16 grades. Within this pay scale, Assistants (AST) can occupy grades 1 – 11, Secretaries/Clerks (AST/SC) can occupy grades 1-6 and Administrators (AD) can occupy grades 5 - 16.

Open competitions are generally organised at specific grades between AD 5 and AD 8, AST/SC and AST3. As a newly recruited official you will be appointed to the grade set out in the notice of the competition you have passed.

Each grade has five 'seniority steps': you automatically advance through these steps according to your seniority in the Commission. You move up one step every two years until you are promoted to the next grade or until you reach the last step in the grade. The very top grade (AD 16) has just three seniority steps.

When you are first recruited you will normally be classified in the first step of the grade to which you have been appointed. However, your professional experience is taken into account if it goes beyond the minimum period required in the competition notice, and this may result in classification in the second step of the grade. For more details, see Article 32 of the Staff Regulations.

You will start at the Commission as a 'probationary' official. At the end of this 9-month period, a report on your performance will be drawn up. If you successfully complete the probationary period, you will be established as an official. Like all other officials, your performance will continue to be assessed regularly during the Commission's annual staff appraisal exercise, which has a direct influence on the progress of your career, including promotion to the next grade in Commission's salary scale.

Officials who join the Commission in the 'assistants' category can pass to the 'administrators' category by following the 'certification procedure'. This allows selected staff who have demonstrated the potential to do 'administrator' tasks to follow a set of mandatory training modules and sit final exams. If they succeed, they are able to apply for 'administrator' posts.

Salary & other benefits

Below, you will find a summary of our main benefits. For precise details, you can consult our Staff Regulations.

Basic monthly Commission salaries range from around €2,300 per month for a newly recruited AST/SC 1 official to around €16,000 per month for a top level AD 16 official with over 4 years of seniority.
Each grade is broken up into five seniority steps with corresponding salary increases. Basic salaries are adjusted annually in line with inflation and purchasing power in the EU countries. The complete salary table is available in the Staff Regulations (Article 66).

The basic monthly salary is just the starting point. To know how much you will get, you then have to add the allowances you may be entitled to, minus social security contributions (pension, health and accident insurance) and other taxes (income tax and a special EU levy). You will find more details below.

If you have left your home country to come and work for the European Commission, you are entitled to an expatriation allowance equivalent to 16% of your basic salary.

Some family-related allowances are available to Commission officials according to their family situation. These include a household allowance, a dependant child allowance, an educational allowance and a pre-school allowance. These allowances can help to cover the costs of looking after a family while working for an international organisation. For more information, see the Staff Regulations (Articles 62 to 71 and Annex VII).


EU officials in service before 1 January 2014 shall be retired at 65, EU officials recruited after 1 January 2014 shall be retired at 66 but it is possible to take early retirement with a reduced pension from the age of 58, or to work up until the age of 67 or exceptionally, until the age of 70.

Pensions are paid as a percentage of the final basic salary. Officials accumulate 1.8% pension rights every year and are entitled to a maximum pension of 70% of their final basic salary. For more details, see the Staff Regulations (Articles 77 to 84 and Annex VIII).

Staff can apply to transfer the pension rights they already have from a previous job or as a self-employed person. Similarly, you can also transfer the pension rights you gain while working at the European Commission into another pension fund. For more information, see the Staff Regulations (Articles 11 and 12 of Annex VIII).

Whilst working, your contribution to the pension scheme will correspond to 10,1% of your basic salary.

Sickness insurance
As a European Commission official, you and your family are entitled to benefit from the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme of the European Communities, which covers medical expenses at a reimbursement rate of 80% for most kinds of treatment (subject to maximum limits). You are also covered by accident insurance and insurance against occupational diseases.

The Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme is funded through a contribution of about 2% of the basic monthly salary from each Commission official.

You are also required to undergo a preventive medical check-up every year. For more details, see the Staff Regulations (Articles 72 to 76).

As a European civil servant, your salary is not subject to national income tax. Instead, salaries paid by the Commission to its officials are directly subject to a Community tax which is paid directly back into the EU's budget. This tax is levied progressively at a rate of between 8% and 45% of the taxable portion of your salary. An additional 'solidarity levy' is in place from 2014 to 2023 (see Article 66 of the Staff Regulations).

Leave & absences
Commission officials are entitled to annual leave of 24 working days. On top of this entitlement, you may also be granted leave for time spent traveling between your home country and the place where you work. In addition to annual leave, there are rules for special leave for marriage, moving house, death of relatives or serious illnesses, births, etc. In exceptional circumstances, you may also apply for unpaid leave on personal grounds. You will find more information in the Staff Regulations (Articles 57 to 61 and Annex V).

Reconciling professional & personal life
A range of measures are in place to help ensure that working for the Commission is conducive to a healthy professional, personal and family life. These measures focus on parental and compassionate leave, a solid infrastructure of childcare and schooling and modern working arrangements.

Many of these measures were introduced or improved when the new Staff Regulations came into effect in May 2004. In particular, mothers are entitled to 20 weeks maternity leave and fathers 10 days paternity leave on the normal salary, while 6 months parental leave per child is available on a basic monthly allowance.

For more information see the Staff Regulations (Articles 57 to 61 and Annexes IV bis and V).

The Commission takes a holistic approach to all aspects of well-being at work: there are also many leisure, sports and cultural clubs open to Commission staff and their families, including athletics, dance, theatre, art and language exchange.

Commission civil service