Important legal notice
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Performance-based career structure

With the entering into force of the new Staff Regulations on 1st May 2004, the entire spectrum of staff policy - from recruitment to retirement - has been revised. The aim was to create an independent, sustainable and top-quality European public service, making the Commission into an organisation that sets world-wide standards.

Key features of the new approach are measures to reward management ability; new recruitment and selection procedures; a new career development structure in which promotion is based on merit and performance; rigorous, objective and fair evaluation of individual performance; better training; improved working conditions; equal opportunities and a new framework for early retirement:

Recruitment Top

The Commission has always employed highly qualified and cosmopolitan staff, and to enable it to continue to perform its duties properly, with the right people, it needs to make its recruitment policy as efficient as possible. Only thus can the tens of thousands of job applicants be whittled down to the most suitable candidates. It is also expected that the number of applications will continue to increase. This is why it makes sense to have a recruitment policy common to all the institutions, based on greater interinstitutional cooperation.

Consequently - since 1 January 2003 - the EU institutions have an interinstitutional recruitment office (the European Personnel Selection Office). lt does not only help to avoid expensive duplication, but also ensures that modern and standardised principles are applied to recruitment procedures. When they decided to set up the EPSO, the EU institutions also agreed that the principles underlying future recruitment policy should be:

Applying these principles also helps to improve the identification of the institutions' human resources needs in terms of candidate profiles. Until now, selection procedures had mainly focused on broad categories of officials. Departing from this approach, the Commission has for some time also held competitions for small, closely defined groups of candidates. In future both types of selection procedure - general and specific - will be used regularly alongside one another.

Age limits removed

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU prohibits age limits, which would discriminate against people over a certain age. Such age restrictions cause people to be "legally discriminated against and banned from the labour market", stated the EP's Ombudsman in an inquiry. Age limits would also tend to disadvantage women who wish to begin or resume their careers after bringing up a family:

Faced with a growing public aversion to all forms of ageism and another letter from the EP's Ombudsman, the Commission took the decision to abolish the age-limit of 45 years for all competitions run by the Commission. No Commission competitions published since 10 April 2002 has applied an upper age limit for applicants.


The EPSO site on the Europa server will take you through the application process, answer your most common questions, and tell you where to get more information.
Decision to set up EPSO (2002/621/EC of 25th July 2002)


Staff training and mobility Top

A key objective of the reform was to integrate performance-based elements more fundamentally into career development. The success of such a move also depended, however, on staff being better qualified and better equipped for their tasks. This called for strategic changes to policy on staff training and mobility.


The last 20 years have seen a tremendous acceleration in the pace of change in all areas of life: political, social, economic, technological and cultural. It has thus become essential for those employed in administration and business to undergo further training at all stages of their careers. Until recently, however, the Commission's policy on further training has been seriously neglected, with an annual budget of only € 5.6 million in 2000 for a staff of over 20 000.

To ensure that its personnel keeps abreast of the latest developments in management and other areas of knowledge important for its work, the Commission set the goal as part of its reform package of introducing a culture of lifelong learning for all its staff. On 7 May 2002, the Commission therefore adopted a decision on staff training, with a fundamental objective to expand and improve individuals' competencies so that each staff member can contribute optimally to the achievement of the institution's goals.

Implementing mechanisms resulting from the Training Decision and already in place include:

Resources for general training have steadily increased from €5.5 million in 2000 to €14.5 million in 2004. The budget for language training rose from €4.2m in 2000 to €5.4m in 2004.

The Training Decision set a target of 10 days' training per member of staff per year by 2005 and by 2003 the average number of days training achieved per staff member had already risen to 8.


In the last 15 years far-reaching developments in the fields of external policy, technology, biotechnology, economics and agriculture have presented the Commission with many unexpected political challenges, requiring it to react rapidly and competently. Under the new Activity-Based Management the Commission can expect more staff movements, which is why it needed to have officials who can settle into new duties quickly and take on the responsibilities involved. Research has shown that after a certain learning phase new jobholders are highly creative and innovative. Then, after about four years, the job becomes routine, with the danger that motivation and innovative drive will wane. Staff mobility could help an administration to draw on its own resources to maintain dynamism and keep its outlook fresh.

Not least on account of the rapidly changing political priorities, the need for a high rate of mobility can no longer be ignored in the day-to-day running of the Commission.

The new mobility policy covers:

Senior officials: mobility to maintain motivation and avoid national influence

Mobility gives senior officials a chance to gain broader experience and knowledge, equipping them for tackling new management and political challenges. Mobility also fosters innovative and flexible thinking, with the result that they perform better.

In the case of senior management in the Commission, mobility is already the norm. Soon after entering office, at the end of 1999, the Commission under Romano Prodi adopted a decision on the rotation of senior officials. After five or, in exceptional cases, seven years at the most A 1 and A 2 officials must move to another post. This rotation of senior officials is a way of preventing bureaucratic stasis and resisting national influence. It also acts as a safety valve for DGs administering large budgets.

Mobility of its top management is thus important in ensuring that the Commission can play its role as the neutral guardian of the Treaties. The other side of the mobility coin of course is the loss of experience gained in a particular field, so rotation has to go hand in hand with acquiring new expertise. Checks and balances are the order of the day: there can be no thought of sinecures. Making decisions on top appointments stick in the face of national pressures is also a matter of the Commission's credibility.

More information


New guidelines on internal mobility were adopted in February 2002. The rules on mobility for senior officials were adopted at the end of 1999 and have already been implemented.


Appraisal and promotion Top

Appraisal systems in public administrations have sometimes been criticised for inflation, for instance, rating all the officials in a given department as above average.

The Commission wanted to ensure that its appraisal system constantly motivates staff and at the same time encourages teamwork by ensuring that everyone is clear what their role is and by establishing a clear link between individual and team goals. The aim is to make the administration more dynamic and more efficient. Under the new appraisal system (Career Development Review - CDR) there is no automatic advancement to the highest possible grade. Although the rate of advance for an individual official of average performance is likely to remain the same, the reform should lead to a variation in career speed depending on the level of performance. To make appraisal more objective the performance of individual officials is now quantified by merit points and priority points.

Points towards promotion in the appraisal

Although the 2004 promotion exercise concluded after 1 May 2004, it was carried out in line with the previous system of categories (A, B, C, D), as the promotions themselves took effect before the entry into force of the new Staff Regulations. They were, therefore, based on the former grades.

The annual appraisal of officials up to grade A3 forms the basis for awarding merit points counting towards promotion. Officials changing jobs will take their accumulated points with them to their new post. Key indicators - conduct, performance and abilities - are evaluated using a new standard appraisal form.

Merit rating of officials expressed in terms of points:

1. Above average: 17-20 points
2. Average: 12-16 points
3. Below average: 10-11 points

Based on past experience, the Commission expects around 15% of its officials to be rated above average and some 10% below average.

If performance is insufficient, the official will receive a low score or no points at all.

The overall performance of jobholders is expressed in merit points awarded in the appraisal procedure and in priority points awarded in the subsequent promotion procedure.

The appraisal procedure

Performance in the post is ranked with up to 20 merit points on three criteria (up to 10 for performance, up to six for ability and up to four for conduct) by the line manager in the light of a dialogue on the agreed job description, task assignment and objectives. These are established at the start of the reference year in the new Career Development Report form (i.e. a year before the appraisal).

Checks and balances: All appraisal reports will have to be countersigned by the assessor's superior.

Performance Rating   Ability rating   Conduct rating
9-10 Outstanding 6 Outstanding 4 Very Good
7-8 Very Good 5 Very Good 3 Good
6 Good 4 Good 2 Sufficient
5 Sufficient 3 Sufficient 1 Poor
3-4 Poor 2 Poor 0 Insufficient
0-2 Insufficient 0-1 Insufficient    

The promotion procedure

Both merit and priority points (PP) accumulate over the years. Merit points are awarded in the appraisal procedure outlined above. PP are awarded in a "second round", the promotion procedure, which starts at the beginning of April every year, after completion of the formal stages of appraisal.

1. The Director-General is able to award up to 10 points for special services to the Directorate-General from a total available to him/her of 2.5 times the number of staff. Half of these points goes to the 15% or so officials rated as above average, each of these receiving between six and ten points. The other half goes to the rest of the staff concerned, individuals receiving between zero and four points each. In this way the Director-General can accentuate differences in appraisals.

2. Up to two additional priority points per official may be awarded by the Promotion Committees (in each DG) from a quota allocated to them of 0.25 times the number of staff. The Promotion Committee assesses activities performed in the interest of the Commission, e.g. participation in a selection board. The Committee can award one or two points maximum per official.

The maximum score that can be attained in an appraisal and promotion exercise is thus 32 points.

Officials will accumulate points over several years until they reach the next promotion threshold.

The new system also ensures that assessors make a clear distinction between the fastest and the slowest careers. Assessors are in turn assessed on the quality of their appraisals. This is designed to ensure that they take great care when writing career development reports.

Consistency throughout the Commission

Merit points must be consistent throughout the Commission. To familiarise staff with the new system, particularly the comparability of appraisal results, appropriate training has been provided.

To prevent inflationary appraisal practices, those DGs whose average score in terms of merit points above the Commission average for the previous year by more than one point will have their quota of priority points (see below) reduced for the following exercise by a corresponding number (deducted by the Promotion Committee).

For example, if the Commission-wide average mark is 14 merit points, a Directorate-General that has complied with the above rule and awarded an average of maximum 15 points ("14,99") will be entitled to the total number of priority points. On the other hand, a DG that has given an average of 16 merit points, for example, will receive a package of only 0.5 point per official instead of the standard 2.5 points (two points deducted by the Promotion Committee).


As stated above, promotion will follow once an individual has accumulated a specified number of points - irrespective of how long that individual has waited to be promoted or of his or her age. Accordingly, annual thresholds are set that trigger promotion. The level of the threshold depends on the establishment plan adopted under the budget procedure.

Promotions thus are based purely on merit and performance over time, expressed in terms of points awarded each year in the appraisal exercise. Officials accumulate points until they reach the promotion threshold. Points accumulated over and above this threshold remain on their account.

The rate of advance of individuals up the career ladder therefore depends essentially on the annual appraisal, under the CDR (see above).

An official scoring under ten points is not eligible for promotion. Officials who are repeatedly ranked below average may be the subject of corrective measures including official inquiries.

The first promotion exercise following the rules laid down in new implementing provisions took place in 2003. Indicative promotion thresholds were set at the end of summer 2003 on the basis of the (expected) results in terms of merit points of the first appraisal exercise and of expected trends in terms of priority points. The definitive thresholds have been set by the Promotion Committees on the basis of the promotion possibilities in autumn 2003.


The changes to the system of appraisal and promotion have been introduced without amending the Staff Regulations. Required were only implementing provisions for Articles 43 and 45, so that the new appraisal system was introduced at the beginning of 2003. It has affected promotion for the first time in 2003. The new guidelines on job descriptions were approved in February 2002 and are also implemented.

Job descriptions

Job descriptions (JD), in the context of appraisal and promotion, help to improve visibility and recognition of the staff's competence. They also contribute to the effectiveness of several important human resource management processes:

Thus, job descriptions give jobholders a clear indication of their responsibilities.

In the framework of Strategic Planning and Programming (SPP), job descriptions contribute to the implementation of Activity-Based Management as they enable the Commission and its managers to specify the role and the profile of the human resources allocated to the planned activities. Job descriptions are a tool for setting work-related and personal targets to be achieved through teamwork. They give managers a better overview when it comes to deciding on staffing requirements and allocation of responsibilities.

Job descriptions are drawn up by line managers, from the Director-General down to unit head, for all posts within a Directorate-General. They should make it clear what is expected of individual jobholders in a specific job rather than what the latter actually do. They should avoid being too rigid and allow for flexibility in tackling the workload.

The job description is filled in on an electronic form setting out, among other things, the job environment and the qualifications required.

A Job Description encompasses Job Profile, Job Environment and Job Requirements:

The job descriptions for EU offcials are drawn up since 2002.

Appraisal and promotion of officials in managerial posts

Given the major role played by middle management, substantial investments are to be made in management skills of unit heads. Appraisal of staff at middle management level has an important quality control function for their areas of responsibility. Unit heads have to set objectives for their unit within the framework of the Directorate-General's overall strategy, identify priorities and oversee and evaluate progress towards achieving the objectives. Other important areas are communication, interpersonal and negotiating skills.

These requirements for the Commission's middle management is the yardstick for the appraisal of unit heads and advisers. Apart from these particular criteria the appraisal system for middle management is similar to that described above for other staff.

Unit heads are also awarded points annually to add to their capital, which determines the rate at which they progress up the career ladder.

Underperforming unit heads are, however, subject to different rules. If they receive two consecutive poor reports (endorsed by the Appeal Assessor) they will be reappraised by one of the 20 rapporteurs, senior officials assisting in personnel matters. If the rapporteur agrees with the previous negative appraisals, he/she may refer the case to the Consultative Committee on Appointments, which will then decide whether to move the official to another management post or to a non-management position.

To ensure consistency in the appraisal of newly appointed heads of unit who have to serve a probationary period, after five months there will be an informal interim appraisal and at the end of the probationary period a definitive formal appraisal. The interim appraisal is an opportunity to see whether the person concerned displays the requisite abilities for management duties.

See also under middle management.

Appraisal of senior officials

A new system for the appraisal of senior officials (AD 14 - 16) was decided in the beginning of 2004. It was developed with the help of external consultants, on the basis of a Commission Communication of December 2000.

Senior managers within the Commission are subject to a full 360º appraisal at least every two years. The methodology being applied draws on best practice from both the public and private sectors and represents one of the main pillars of the Reform process.

The appraisal is clearly linked to the objectives and tasks agreed with the official at the beginning of the appraisal period. It includes a self-assessment by the official and a dialogue with his/her superior who drafts the final appraisal taking full account of input from people with whom the appraised official works, principally colleagues and peers inside the Commission. The appraisal process generates a report that includes both quantitative and qualitative reflections on the performance of the official. There is also an appeals procedure.

The results of the appraisals feed back into decisions on promotions and mobility. This ensures that the Commission deploys its senior managers in an optimum fashion by matching abilities with the needs of the institution.

The communication also dealt with the procedure to be followed in future for new appointees to senior management positions. Senior managers who were already EU officials when they were appointed are to have their first performance appraisal after one year in their new job. This appraisal should give the first formal indication of any problems, which need to be addressed. The initial step is to examine with the official what action he/she could take to remedy the problems. If this dialogue does not produce a positive result, then the Commission has other options, including transfer to another post at the same grade, downgrading, or early retirement in the interests of the service.

External candidates appointed to AD 14 - 16 posts will be subject to a probationary period of one year. Effective use should be made of this period to ensure that the newly appointed official is responding well to his/her new tasks and responsibilities. Before the end of the probationary period, every newly recruited official should have an in-depth discussion with his/her Commissioner or Director-General on their performance to date and where and how, if necessary, it can be improved. The final assessment at the end of the probationary period will be based on the method for the appraisal of all A1 and A2 officials referred to above. If a senior manager who has been recruited externally has an unsatisfactory final assessment, his/her contract will normally be terminated.

See also

Senior and middle management Top

Middle management

Heads of unit (grade AD 9 - 12 and grade AD 13 -14) are the backbone of the administration. As well as specialist knowledge and skills and a good general education, they must also have the leadership qualities needed to motivate and guide staff and encourage teamwork. They have to set out and revise the objectives and targets of their unit members within the framework of the strategic planning of the Directorate-General, fix priorities, and monitor and evaluate progress in attaining those objectives. Interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate and negotiate are also of major importance.

The reform process accordingly seeked to consolidate the management skills of heads of unit (HoU). Strict criteria have been introduced for selecting HoU, to ensure greater transparency and easier verification of the procedures concerned.

After a five-year period, heads of unit are regarded as mobile and should actively seek a new assignment. Only in exceptional, duly justified circumstances (e.g. heads of unit with highly specific skills in the research area or in the Language Service), will a head of unit be allowed to remain in the same post for more than seven years.

The following requirements apply:

Reversibility of an appointment: if newly appointed heads of unit (i.e. those without previous management experience) do not perform fully satisfactorily during their probationary period, they may be reassigned to non-managerial posts.

Heads of unit will have their performance regularly assessed in the context of the new appraisal system.

Heads of unit at AD 9 - AD 12 levels are appointed directly by the Directors-General, in agreement with a new Rapporteur dealing with such appointments. Every Director-General establishes a pre-selection panel, which screens applicants in advance and proposes a draft shortlist of suitable candidates. Short-listed candidates are subsequently assessed by the Director-General and, in addition, by a rapporteur selected from a list of up to 20 senior officials in grades A14 - AD 16 drawn up for this purpose1. The Director-General concerned in agreement with his/her Commissioner then announces his intention about whom to appoint as head of unit, to the Secretary-General and the Director-General for Personnel and Administration. Both the Secretary-General and the DG for personnel and administration - usually upon recommendation of the rapporteur - can refer the matter to the Consultative Committee on Appointments (CCA) in case there are objections about the procedure followed or the proposed nomination.

For appointments to middle management posts at AD 13 / AD 14 level, the appointing authority is the Director-General concerned in agreement with the President, the Member of the Commission responsible for personnel and the Member of the Commission responsible for the Directorate-General.

Candidates with no previous experience as head of unit must at the very least have followed specific training and/or acquired equivalent experience as proof of their ability to work in a supervisory position.

A Joint Committee on Middle Management Appointments, composed of five serving AD 14/15 officials, nominated by Staff representatives and the Commission, will monitor the system.

In view of the responsibilities that fall to them, heads of unit have been granted an additional step on appointment as part of the reform of the career structure on 01.05.2004.

1 The Central Staff Committee and the Administration each propose 15 officials of grades AD 14 - AD 16 for the list of these 20 "rapporteurs" following middle management decisions. The itself list is decided by the Director-General for Personnel and Administration and the Secretary-General.

Reforming the function of advisers

Advisers, in grades AD 9 - AD 14, have special expertise and experience which is indispensable for tackling important tasks within the Commission. They may have tasks, such as participating in think-tanks, providing strategic and technical guidance for policy design, representing the Commission at meetings, co-ordinating or supervising specific activities, such as the provision of legal advice, and defending Community interests before the Court of Justice. Advisers generally report directly to a Director-General or Director. Altogether there are around 150 advisers at the Commission, and some 100 advisers ad personam in posts outside the organisation chart. In its communication of 26 July 2000 "Matching the Commission's activities with its human resources", the Commission concluded that there is a need to reduce the existing number of Advisers' positions to ensure that this number corresponds to the real needs for carrying out the Commission's working program.

The Commission entrusted a high-level Task Force to examine in detail the situation of the above officials. It issued its report in November 2001. Following further internal debate on this subject, the Commission has adopted an implementing decision in September 2004.

Senior management


New Career Structure Top

A modern administration that is open to the world, responsible for a framework of laws affecting almost half a billion people and for coordinating responses to global challenges must be flexible and accountable in every respect.

The old system of four categories (A to D), each with up to eight grades, was created in 1962 and mirrored what was then a traditional civil service structure. Under that system, officials remained in the category at which they entered the service and automatically moved up one step, with an attendant salary increase, every two years.

Since then, however, there have been major new developments in the workplace generally. In the case of the administrations of the EU institutions, they include:

The Commission kept sight of this overall picture as it set about reforming its career structure.

A problem faced by the Commission as a result of the former career structure was that career bottlenecks were generated. Officials in the four categories tended to reach the highest grade they could reasonably expect to achieve (A 4, B 1, C 1 or D 1) at roughly 50 years of age. Once they had achieved that grade, EU officials could look forward only to an automatic increase in step every two years over a maximum of 16 years (each of the above grades comprised eight steps). Consequently, the Commission faced the problem that officials in the later stages of their careers could suffer from a lack of motivation.

The rigid career structure made it very difficult to move between categories.

General goals of the reform

The reform of the career structure has achieved the following:

Two functions groups instead of four categories: the four categories, which often feature pre-defined tasks, have been merged into just two function groups, leading to increased levels of responsibility for all officials.

Increased motivation and commitment: the existing horizontal career system has become vertical, i.e. there are more merit-based promotions and less automatic progression in terms of pay.

The new career structure offers clear incentives for good performance in a lifelong career. Officials who produce good results are able to progress - both in their career and in terms of pay - until retirement.

The basic categories for officials are to be reduced from 4 to 2 function groups and a single pay scale with 16 grades (each with 5 seniority steps) covering both function groups has been introduced:

Assistants are able to move more easily into the higher function group, subject to their receiving good evaluations, during career review undergoing suitable training and passing a qualifying examination. This makes it possible to have a more linear system of career development.

With officials spending an expected three to four years in each grade, this new structure allows for a more continuous form of career development, in terms of both pay and responsibility. Officials are recruited at a lower level of pay, but can reach a higher level by the end of their career.

The new system will be introduced over a 2 phase transition period

Directors and Directors-General are assigned to posts in grades 14 and 15 and 15 and 16 respectively. Officials starting in the lower grades can still be promoted to the top grades.

All senior posts at grade 14 and above are published and filled by appointing external candidates, transferring senior officials or promoting officials from the grade below.

Former officials at grade A 3 have been reclassified as grade A* 14 as part of the changeover to the new structure.

Heads of unit are, at the end of the transitional period, will be appointed from grade 9 upwards. Officials in management posts (heads of unit, Directors in grade 14 and Directors General in grade 15) advance, in view of the significant responsibilities they carry, by one step at the time of nomination. For the same reason, heads of units should always be promoted into step 2 rather than step 1 as this is the rule for all other staff. On changeover to the new structure, all heads of units have been awarded an additional step.

The final grade for administrators not occupying management positions will normally be grade 13. Improved incentives can mean that, subject to an outstanding level of performance, around 20% of administrators could reach grade 14.

Each progression up the ladder from grades 1 to 16, unlike in the past, involves an equal percentage of salary increase. Each grade has just five steps (compared with up to eight in the past), and progressing through the total of five steps in each grade at the rate of one step every two years results in four salary increases totalling around 13% (these are degressive - thus rewarding good performance - from 4.2% for progression to the second and third steps, 2.8% to the fourth and 1.4% to the fifth). Promotion to the next grade from the fifth step of the previous grade entails no increase in salary. There are therefore four salary increases in each grade. With promotion rates of up to 25% of all officials in a grade, the average length of time spent in any given grade will be four years.

A multiplier safeguards acquired salary rights: A new multiplier is applied to the basic salary due to the first promotion, to guarantee this average pay rise that officials would have got under the old system (see below: remuneration). This multiplier is less than 1 if the reference salary in the new scale is still higher than the real salary paid - as it is in the majority of cases. The official's salary increases every 2 years via automatic advancement in step, according to the rules of the new system (see above). The new multiplier is applied each time the pay goes up. As a result, each automatic pay rise causes the multiplier to increase towards 1, because, the actual salary is 'catching up' with the reference salary in the new system.

Classification: comparison between the old and the new career structures

Grade under the new system: assistants   Grade under the new system: administrators   Grade under the old system   Steps under the new system   Expected annual promotion rates
C5 +
C4 +
C3 +
B5 +
C1 +
A8 +
A7 +
A6 +
25% et 33%3
25% et 33%
25% et 33%
25% et 33%

20% et 25%
20% et 25%


1 Grades 1 - 11 for assistants
2 Grades 5 - 16 for administrators
3 The promotion rates differ: those for assistants are shown on the left and those for administrators are shown on the right.

For the purposes of the changeover to the new career structure (see next chapter) the number of steps in some grades has been increased during a transitional phase.

Transitional arrangements

On 1 st May 2004 all staff changed over to a new salary scale under a system which fully preserves the acquired rights under the old system.

The transitional arrangements entail a two-phase approach to changing grades that would not require any reclassification of staff but a relabelling of existing grades:

There is a possibility of a further promotion for staff in the final grades in the existing categories (D 1, C 1, B 1 and A 4), i.e. those who are about 50 years old.

New staff enter the AST group from grades 1 - 4 and the AD group mainly from grades 5 to 8.

The following tables comparing the old and new grades show that two thirds of staff are on the new pay scale immediately, and that the others will rapidly enter it.

Diagram: Grades in transition period




Basic monthly salaries for each grade and step (in euro) under the new career structure

(overview all grades, revised table taking into consideration the adaptation of salaries on 01.01.2004)

Proposal for basic monthly salaries

Transition period

Grade A
Proposal for transition periode  - Grade A

Grade B
Proposal for transition periode  - Grade B

Grade C
Proposal for transition periode  - Grade C

Grade D
Proposal for transition periode  - Grade D

Other characteristics of the career structure

Entry requirements for new officials have been raised. At least upper secondary education and three years' high-quality professional experience are needed for appointment as a permanent official.

Administrators are employed in drafting policies and implementing EU law, analysing and advising. They form the backbone of the management. All tasks involving the exercise of public authority are carried out by officials, which means not only a reduction in the present numbers currently employed in temporary post, but also the end of the present distinction between officials generally and those employed in the research arm.

Assistants are generally employed in a supporting role (secretarial, administrative, or in connection with financial procedures or policy developments and implementation).

Appointments are made only on the basis of competitions for specific grades. The old system of competitions, whereby staff have been recruited to several grades ('career brackets'), entailed a complex classification procedure for assigning grades and steps to new officials. Thus, the reform also simplified the rules for assigning grades to newly appointed officials.

Administrators are, for instance, normally recruited to grade 5 posts and secretaries to grade 1 posts, usually in the first step within those grades. Professional experience extending beyond the minimum period stipulated in the competition notice is taken into account in exceptional cases only, possibly resulting in classification in the second step of the grade concerned.

Enhanced training efforts have - besides the main objective, which is to guarantee up-to-the-minute staff know-how and training - the desired additional effect of enabling officials to invest in their future career progression. Proven ability and performance and evidence of ongoing training will accordingly be of greater significance in the career progression than the basic training which in many cases may well have been completed some considerable time earlier. Performance and further training are therefore documented in the new career development report.

Easier career advancement

Training is - together with passing suitable tests - also a key element in moving to a higher career level. The planned merger of grades B and C in the assistant's function group is thus not possible without an overhaul of training policy.

The new Staff Regulations allow officials to move to a higher category from function group AST to function group AD if:

Thus, officials are selected on the basis of appraisals and are granted access to training programmes preparing for a change of function group. Rigorous testing at the end of the programmes ensures, that the officials concerned do, indeed, meet the functional requirements of the new category.

Both appraisal-based selection and the training programme itself are firmly based on the specific job requirements in the higher category as well as the required non-specific skills.

An interinstitutional approach to develop this mechanism has been followed and an interinstitutional European Administrative School has been set up to operate this system.

Pay and pensions and early retirement Top


In times of increasing globalisation, the Commission faces stiff competition from other international firms and organisations for the best people on the international job market. To secure the highly qualified staff needed to put the European idea into practice, the Commission needs to be able to offer the appropriate financial rewards whilst reforming the pay system, particularly with regard to allowances.

Against this background and hand in hand with the planned career structure reforms, the envisaged amendments to remuneration centre on three main points:

Phasing-in the new pay system

The career structure models outlined above allow for salaries to rise in line with demonstrated merit. Phasing-in the new system will not cause any substantial changes to the present overall wage bill. Committed officials will have the possibility of advancing up the pay scale until the end of their career.

Salary adjustments

The automatic adjustment of EU officials' salaries in line with purchasing power of public service salaries in the Member States, by applying a calculation referred to as the 'Method'1, is to be permanently incorporated into the Staff Regulations up to 2013.

In this way, the Commission wishes to avoid time consuming and disruptive annual pay bargaining.

The system of allowances

The allowance system has been rationalised to correspond more closely to the real and necessary costs incurred by officials related to living abroad, caring for a family, educating children etc.

Thus, the household allowance ceased to be a percentage-only share of basic salary (5%) and became instead a flat-rate allowance of € 149, 39 plus 2% of basic salary. This will benefit lower-paid officials but will result, for instance, in a reduction of € 300 per month for the top earners.

The dependent child allowance will be increased to € 326,44 over six years. At the same time, the education allowance for children attending non-fee-paying schools will be phased out over five years. However, in addition to the child allowance, a new amount of € 79,74 will be phased in over five years for children of pre-school age. This is designed to help reconcile a career and bringing up children by subsidising the cost of nurseries and after-school care facilities.

The expatriation allowance is maintained in full. The installation and resettlement allowance upon taking up duties or change of residence in the interest of the service, the daily subsistence allowance, travel expenses and reimbursement of removal costs are largely maintained.

The secretarial allowance is discontinued for new staff, but all present recipients keep it until grade 6 inclusive. On a further promotion to grade 7 they will not have a reduction of income. Rent and transport allowances will be discontinued.

The annual allowance towards the cost of travel to the place of origin will be between € 0.1 and € 0.5 per kilometre, based on the distance between the place of employment and the place of origin. The allowance will no longer cover a second journey in the case of officials from distant countries.

The direct transfer - with the application of a weighting - of part of the salary to another country will be restricted to education allowance for a child attending school or university in that country and to other legal family obligations (subject to presentation of supporting evidence, but with a maximum ceiling of 5% in the event of other legal family obligations).

A new system of weightings will be applied to such salary transfers, to account for the cost of living in the given country. Previously an index-based on the cost of living in capital cities was used. This change results in a lower increase on transfers to Member States where the cost of living in the capital city is particularly high, such as the UK or France.

1 Since 1981 the salaries of EU officials have been adjusted annually in line with changes in the purchasing power of remuneration of the Member States' public services in accordance with a legally binding formula which is known as the 'Method'.

The new salary structure

Basic salary in Euro
Grades Steps Transition steps
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
16 14822,86
16094,79 16094,79 16094,79    
15 13100,93
14822,86 15445,74    
14 11579,04
13100,93 13651,45 14225,11 14822,86
13 10233,93
12 9045,09
10233,93 10663,98 11112,09 11579,04
11 7994,35
9045,09 9425,17 9821,23 10233,93
10 7065,67
7994,35 8330,28 8680,33 9045,09
9 6244,87
8 5519,42
6244,87 6507,29 6780,73 7065,67
7 4878,24
5519,42 5751,35 5993,03 6244,87
6 4311,55
4878,24 5083,24 5296,84 5519,42
5 3810,69
4311,55 4492,73 4681,52 4878,24
4 3368,02
3810,69 3970,82 4137,68 4311,55
3 2976,76
3368,02 3509,54 3657,02 3810,69
2 2630,96
2976,76 3101,85 3232,19 3368,02
1 2325,33


In the previous system, EU officials reached pensionable age at 60, but had the option of retiring between the age of 50 and 65. After 35 years of pensionable service, officials were entitled to the maximum pension of 70% of their last basic salary.

For every year of service up to the age of 60, officials were entitled to a pension of 2% of their salary. Thus 35 years of service are required to reach the maximum entitlement of 70%. However, there was a bonus of 5% of the acquired rights for every year that officials work beyond the age of 60. This system contributed to the tendency of Community officials to retire later than civil servants in the Member States.

The pensions of EU officials, like their salaries, are paid out of the EU budget. Officials pay a compulsory contribution of 9.75% of their gross salary towards their pensions, which is identified as one third of the actuarial amount required to cover pension payments.

This system of pension payments has been maintained. However, a reliable formula is applied to maintain actuarial balance for the current method of financing the pensions system. In particular, this involves regular adjustment of the parameters. If the formula leads to any imbalance, the present rate of contribution by officials of 9.25% will be adapted accordingly to remedy this (1.7. 2004: 9,75%, 1.1. 2005: 10,25%). Also, the pensionable age has changed.

Changes under the reform of the pension system

For existing staff:

No changes for officials aged 50 years or more, or with at least 20 years' service.

For other officials up to 49 years old and with less than 20 years' service:

Officials aged
Normal Retirement age
Barcelona incentive
de 40-49  
de 35-39  
de 30-34  
moins de 30 ans  

For all existing staff:

For new staff:

In the medium term, a feasibility study will examine whether pensions might be paid from a pension fund.

The existing arrangements concerning the severance grant paid to officials who do not qualify for a retirement pension when they leave the service should continue to apply for current staff, who have continued to pay into a national pension scheme, a private insurance scheme or a pension fund of their choice in order to establish or maintain pension rights (capital payment to officials who leave the Commission before qualifying for a retirement pension, i.e. with less than 10 years of service). New officials will also be able to receive a capital sum, provided they continue to pay pension contributions into a national or private pension scheme.

Reopening of transfer of national pension rights: Requests to qualify for the facilities for transfer of national pension rights may still be submitted or resubmitted by 31.10.2004 at the latest.

Pensions will be adjusted each year in line with the Method.

Correction coefficients will not be applied to pension rights accumulated after the entry into effect of the new Staff Regulations. Acquired rights of existing officials who retire to their state of origin will be respected by applying country-based coefficients (which cannot be less than 100% including for current pensioners) to the part of the pension resulting from rights accumulated up until the entry into effect of the new Staff Regulations. To soften down the impact of the measure, the new country weightings will gradually replace the capital city weightings over five years starting from May 2004.


In the case of an official who is suffering from total permanent invalidity, preventing him from performing the duties corresponding to a post in his/her career bracket, he/she shall be entitled to an invalidity allowance. This allowance shall be subject to contributions to the pension scheme and shall be replaced by a retirement pension when they reach retirement age in accordance with the rules for officials in active service.

Survivor's pensions

As before, the surviving spouse of an official or of a former official shall be entitled to a survivor's pension equal to 60 % of the retirement pension which was paid to the deceased. Each child who was dependent on the deceased official or former official at the time of his/her death shall be entitled to orphan's pension.

Early retirement/part-time working for those approaching retirement age

Early retirement has been made a more realistic option for officials who wish to leave the service early, because the present system is based on mortality tables from 1956 while life expectancy has considerably increased over the last 40 years.

The reform has provided for a distinction between retirement in the interest of the service and retirement in the interest of the official:

Early retirement in the interest of the official

It is now possible to retire from the age of 55 with the pension reduced by only 3.5% for each year below the normal retirement age. This is more attractive than the previous situation where reductions were much higher. Moreover, the new Staff Regulations make it possible for officials to retire in the interest of the service from the age of 55 with no reduction coefficient applied to their pension. In a given year, this can be up to an average of 10% of total number of retirements in all the Institutions the previous year.

From the age of 55, part-time working (half-time work) is possible, with an allowance of 10% of the previous salary being added to the part-time remuneration.

Termination in the interest of the service

Unlike national administrations, for example, the European institutions are regularly faced with major administrative challenges whenever new Member States join, because the new countries have a right to appropriate representation (geographical balance). The result is a major reshuffling of staff.

Against this background the Commission proposes that the administrations be given the possibility of allowing voluntary termination of service by staff in exceptional circumstances, where this is warranted and where the costs are clearly established.

Thus, in the interests of the service and on the basis of objective criteria and transparent procedures, the Commission can decide not to apply the reduction for early retirement to the officials (see above).

The total number of officials and temporary servants, who retire without any reduction of their pension each year, cannot be higher than 10% of the officials in all institutions who retired the previous year. The annual percentage may vary from 8% to 12%, subject to a total of 20% over two years and the principle of budget neutrality. Before five years have elapsed, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council an evaluation report on the implementation of this measure.

It will be made easier to send senior officials into early retirement. The requirement to check whether assignment to another post is possible for A 1/A 2 officials before a decision is taken on their early retirement will be abolished.

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