One of the only positive advancements of the 2014 Statute is the automatic adaptation of salaries and pensions.
Our pensions are guaranteed, but we must be vigilant and ready to counter potential attacks of this principle.
Salaries adjustment method
As you know, our salary is “updated” each year by a percentage corresponding to:
- price trends in Brussels and Luxembourg (“common index”) and
- changes in the purchasing power of national civil servants (“specific indicator”).
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, the financial crisis and its consequences prompted the Board to sharply reduce or even eliminate the adjustment of our remunerations. Since the 2014 reform, things have changed.
The only advantage of this reform was the renewal of the Salary Adjustment Method (FR-EN-DE), which has become fully automatic. Therefore, the Council no longer has the power to intervene as it previously did. However, this Method still includes an exception clause.
Had the 2014 reform of the Staff Regulations not changed the rules on this point, the Member States would have retained their discretional power to draw the consequences of a “serious and sudden deterioration in the economic and social situation inside the Union”, as they did for the salaries’ adjustment in 2011 and in 2012.
Fortunately, in its new version of 2014, the Method (annex XI of the statute, chapter 5) leaves no room for subjective interpretation from the institutions. The adoption of moderation or exception clauses is fully automated by the Commission itself, using fixed parameters.
The lack of discretional margin is protecting us from arbitrary attacks from the Member States, such as those we experienced between 2009 and 2013. On the other hand, the figures calculated by Eurostat are unavoidable and leave us no room for contestation.
The 2014 reform established two safeguards that are automatically triggered if the Union’s economy turns badly, one excluding the other:
It is only when the Union’s GDP returns to its previous level that this evolution will be added to a future salary update.
When and how will the evolution of the national civil servants’ purchasing power be “re-integrated” into our salaries and pensions?
This will depend on the evolution of the situation, economically speaking and more particularly regarding the GDP. However, it should be remembered that if the GDP decreases by 10% and then increases by 10%, it will not have reached its initial level: 100 –10% = 90 and 90 + (10% of 90) = 99. The calculation shall therefore not take into account the percentage of decrease in GDP followed by any increase, but rather the value of the GDP itself.
As regards the moderation clause, which did not apply in 2020, it could apply when a further update will be based on the specific indicator from 2020. In this case, part of the update will be postponed to April 1st of the following year.
As a conclusion, this new Method is working properly. We are going through an unprecedented crisis, which has a negative impact on our salaries, our purchasing power is stagnating and even decreasing slightly (while the purchasing power of national civil servants has increased significantly). The two main positive points are that everything is done automatically, without the Member States being able to take arbitrary measures and that, in the long term, parallelism with national public services remains guaranteed.
More (available in FR only)
2020:Le coronavirus attaquera–t–il nos rémunérations ?
COVID 19 et la méthode d’adaptation des rémunérations (20/11/2020)
11 ans d’application (ou de non application) de la Méthode et ses vicissitudes (AGORA 75)