No Xy Lo
no 31 - 14 october 2013
• Editorial: Will the reform of the Staff
Regulations be enough for the Member States?
|• Right to roll over annual
leave in case of sickness: Strack / Commission ruling
• EU / European Council ruling (C77-11) of September 17 2013
• Agencies: an effective response to the criticism and expectations of the scientific world?
• ACs: transforming the test!
• Promotions – when?
• Most recent addition to the newsletters with which U4U is collaborating
Editorial: Will the reform of the Staff Regulations be enough for the Member States?
The Council of the EU has just voted on the new Staff Regulations for the European Public Service, so the text can now be published in the EU Official Gazette.
The response given by the highest authorities to those sad souls in anguish at this bitter blow aimed at the heart of the Public Service, and, indeed, at the capacity for action of a Commission which used to take itself seriously, is that this agreement is the best that could be obtained and they are indeed upset at not being congratulated for having limited the damage.
A number of Member States, however, have expressed their disappointment. In a communiqué written in the purest diplomatic Newspeak, they bewail this lost opportunity to modernise the European Public Service. ‘Modernise’ means ‘slaughter’. They would have loved to see the Institutions in a position to ‘honour their commitments in the future’ on the pensions front. Read this as ‘default on these commitments’.
In rather more explicit terms, they threaten that ‘the EU Public Service will be left behind, exposed to risk and danger’. Yet they promise that: ‘In the coming years, we shall continue to keep ourselves occupied constructively (i.e. ‘destructively’) by acting in such a way that […] the EU Public Service will reflect our Union of the twenty-first century’ (the one they are attempting to destroy, or which they would like to abandon).
It is up to us to respond to this negative commitment by a positive commitment to a democratic, mutually-supportive Europe, and to a competent and independent Public Service.
Staff Regulation reform: the last straight line
On October 9, the CoRePer adopted the commitment of July 2013 on Staff Regulations and the TTE Council adopted it, as point A, on October 10. The two branches of the budgetary authority have now formally adopted the agreement on the revision of the Staff Regulation.
The ruling will be signed in Strasbourg on October 23 2013, following which it will be published in the Official Gazette.
The new Staff Regulation is set to come into force on January 1 2014.
The DG HR and the OSPs [trade union or professional organisations] are negotiating the revision of the implementation measures which will come into force on January 1 2014, after consultation with the inter-Institutional Committee on Staff Regulations.
Adjustment of salaries for 2013
Following the entry into force of the new Staff Regulation, there will be no adjustment of salaries for 2013 or 2014. However, Eurostat will informally calculate the specific indicator (changes in the purchasing power of national officials).
On the other hand, the Commission is intending to make a proposal to adapt the corrective coefficients – they have not been adapted since 2010, as was the case with pay in general.
Adjustment of pension contribution rates for 2013
It is turning out to be particularly complicated to calculate this pension this year, as the rate was not adjusted in 2011 and 2012 (it ought to have been around 10% since July 2012). In addition, the salary rises for 2011 and 2012 (+1.7% and +1.7%), calculated using the Method, also ought to affect the pension contribution rate. We should bear in mind that these adjustments should now be settled by the Community Court.
Moreover, the coming into force of the new Staff Regulation will lead to a change in the calculation period of the average interest rate, which is one of the parameters used to set the rate of contributions to the pension fund.
The outcome is that Eurostat will be calculating the contribution rate for 2013 on the basis of fixed data and will be incorporating all of the variable data (results of the decisions behind the Court rulings on 2011 and 2012 salaries and on the adjustment of the pensions contribution for 2011 and 2012).
It is likely that the application rate dating from July 1 2013 will not be very different from the one which should have come into force as of July 2012.
2011 and 2012 pay adjustments before the Court of Justice
The Advocate General’s Conclusions found in favour of the Commission, and rejected the arguments put forward by the Council.
In theory, the Court’s ruling should be adopted in November 2013 for the 2011 adjustment.
If this turns out to be the Case, the Council should adopt the Commission’s proposed settlement for the 2011 adjustment, with a qualified majority decision, before the end of this year. Failure to adopt it would result in serious legal and institutional consequences. On this basis, the Commission is working with the Presidency to create a package with the 2012 adjustment and to settle the whole matter at issue at a stroke. Thus 48 x 1.7% would have to be paid out in one lump sum before the end of this year.
Adjustment of pension contribution rate for 2011 and 2012
For 2011, no hearing date has
yet been set by the Court.
As regards 2012, the Commission has put the Council on notice to make its decision.
Right to roll over annual leave in case of sickness: Strack / Commission ruling
In this case, the Commission rejected the request lodged by an official to roll a leave period over in excess of 12 days, even though this roll-over was due to sickness on the part of the individual in question.
The Court ordered the Commission to obey Directive 2003/88 recognising the right to annual paid leave for each worker as a particularly important principle of Union Social Law, heretofore expressly set out in article 31, paragraph 2, of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Court ruled that the right to annual leave implies that any worker denied the opportunity to take that leave because of long-term sickness leave should be allowed to roll that leave over, without any reduction thereto, with a roll-over period substantially exceeding the duration of the reference period for which it was granted, unless the considerations arising from the need to avoid the accumulation of outstanding leave might give rise to some obstacle thereto.
In this ruling, the Court reiterated the fact that the Regulation should be interpreted in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which could change the direction adopted by Community precedent as regards the Regulation in the future.
EU / European Council ruling (C77-11) of September 17 2013
The Court confirmed in this ruling that only the President of the European Parliament adopts and signs the European Budget. This had been disputed by the Member States from a purely inter-Governmental standpoint.
Yet again we see the Court interpreting the law using a Community approach.
Agencies: an effective response to the criticism and expectations of the scientific world?
For years, European scientists have been criticising the growing bureaucratisation of the management of Community programmes by the Commission.
Instead of simplifying our procedures, procedures which cause European scientists to waste nearly one-third of their time year on year, the Commission has launched a reform of its administrative structures, to allow its central departments to concentrate on their political duties.
So we have progressed from three research DGs (RTDi CNECT, JRC) to 10, not to mention 5 research agencies. It would appear that the multiplication of structures creates the need for a coordination structure which will come under the umbrella of the even weightier management of the future DG RTDi.
Right now there are no more than 350 scientific officers among the approximately 2,000 people working in this DG. In the future there will be even fewer, with follow-through in the hands of overworked ACs. What’s more, some agency departments are already working with TAOs, while they were theoretically designed to avoid recourse to this kind of structure.
What kind of an assessment has the Commission arrived at regarding the coordination structures set up in the past (the structural funds, for example), which were all-too-soon scrapped?
The creation of the agencies is based on an accounting logic which seeks to make savings on the backs of contract staff, without any in-depth thinking about professions, research policy, or personnel policy.
The transition between the old architecture and the new architecture is increasingly unmanaged.
Well done, College: better and better!
ACs: transforming the test!
In the Commission’s central departments, the Contract Agents’ Collective obtained contracts with a life of up to 6 years and internal competitions for all, or nearly all. At the same time, it secured from the Commission a promise that it would re-hire all the ACs whose contracts had expired since June 2011.
It is now time for the Commission to move on to action, which in the very short term will take the form of:
- the holding of the first competition for all ACs as of 2014;
- the re-hiring, as promised, as of January 1 2014, for three more years, of the ACs whose contracts had expired since June 2011, instead of recruiting ACs without the benefit of a CAST, a great new innovation by the College (again, well done!);
- the development of a new contract staff policy, raising the question of careers, mobility, assessments and so on, with a view to doing away with a purely administrative management of the staff in this field.
Promotions – when?
The Promotions Committee will be meeting soon, before October 21. Promotions will be paid in November as forecast.
A slight increase in resources should not go unnoticed, but it will be nothing like the colossal figures generated by the previous system.
And we should be pleased that a tendency to respect collective guarantees has emerged. More progress is needed, however, for the start and end of all careers.
A full assessment will be made after the conclusion of the work of the Promotions Committee.
Welcome to the most recent addition to the newsletters with which U4U is collaborating
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J.-P. Soyer, Daniel Baruchel, Carmen Zammit, Bertrand Soret, Ute Bolduan
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