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Employment in the public sector

Posts reserved for nationals

EU countries are allowed to reserve certain public-sector positions for their own nationals. This is an exception to the general rule of free movement of workers and must therefore be interpreted restrictively.

  • Only posts involving direct or indirect participation in the exercise of public authority and duties designed to  safeguard  the general interest of the state may be restricted to nationals.
  • These criteria must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the tasks and responsibilities covered by the post.

Recruitment and working conditions

For other posts not restricted to nationals, nationals of other EU countries must be treated in the same way as nationals as regards:

  • access to posts, e.g. recruitment procedures
  • working conditions, such as salary and grade. 
  • recognition of professional experience and seniority

When people apply for public-sector posts in other EU countries, they may have difficulties getting recognition for professional experience and seniority acquired in other EU countries. However:

  • public-sector employers must take account of previous periods of comparable employment acquired in other EU countries – both for recruitment and for determining salary, grade and other working conditions
  • these periods must be considered in the same way as professional experience and seniority acquired in the host country.

More information

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