European Union officials toiling in far-flung destinations are less than happy about cuts to their generous perks, to the extent that some have even begun to refuse postings. The changes in the EU delegations have been introduced with surprising efficiency and in some cases without the ubiquitous transitional regime, writes Justin Stares.
According to one European External Actions Service official, the cuts include:
1) Holiday entitlement: reduced from over 40 days a year to the Brussels average of around 24 days a year (plus national holidays).
2) Flights home: reduced from two tax-payer funded trips a year to one. Business class replaced by economy class.
3) The abolition of so-called “hardship pay” in several countries. These destinations have been “zero-related”, meaning Brussels-based living standards, and therefore no bonus, apply.
Management has evidently looked to justify points one and two on the grounds that officials now enjoy social media and so don’t need to visit friends and family as often as before. This is considered laughable by the official I talked to.
But even more annoying are limits to the salaries officials can earn without taking on management positions. Automatic salary progression has led to situations where desk officers – without management responsibility – can earn more than their bosses: in some cases Euro 12,000 a month or more.
When I mentioned this figure to my European External Action Service source, the source smiled, which left me with the impression that I am under-reporting the salaries out there.
Either way, these automatic salary increases are now over, and those looking to earn more will have to apply for a management job. In big Brussels departments, management jobs are few and far between, which means salary progression will in some cases stop (though other automatic adjustments will continue).
“We know that no-one will cry for us,” the official concluded.
Needless to say these cuts have been blamed upon the British Government’s demands for value for money, and therefore on the Euro-sceptic press for running all those EU ‘bloated pay and perks’ stories over the years.
An increasing number of EU officials would like to see the UK leave the Union. Many share the sentiment expressed by former French prime minister Michel Rocard who said recently that the UK should leave “before you destroy everything“.
You can follow Justin on Twitter @JustinStares