EU civil servants' austerity delayed by more than a year
Agreement on a €1 billion austerity programme for European Union civil servants – some of whom earn more than €18,000 a month – has been held up for more than a year, it has emerged.
The €1 billion austerity programme, which includes wage cuts, tax increases, longer working hours and a later retirement age, among other measures, has not proceeded because member states have failed to agree a common position on the cuts.
In addition, from this month civil servants’ take-home pay is set to benefit from the ending of a special austerity levy of 5.5 per cent because EU states have failed to reach agreement on how it should be continued.
EU staff salaries range from €2,654 a month for clerical or secretarial staff on grade one of the pay scale to €18,370 for grade 16 staff with maximum remunerable experience.
In addition, staff in certain countries are paid a multiplier based on the cost of living. In Ireland the multiplier is currently 109.1 per cent.
Salaries are subject to EU tax, which ranges through some 14 different bands, the highest of which is 45 per cent, payable on amounts greater than €6,938 a month. Salaries in the mid-range of up to €4,243 a month are taxed at seven rates between 8 per cent and 22.5 per cent.
In June 2011 the EU Commission, which is in favour of the tax increases and pay cuts, tabled a package of austerity measures aimed at saving €1 billion by 2020 and about €1 billion a year after that.
The commission adopted its position on the package in December 2011 and the parliament adopted its position in April 2012.
For the move to progress the EU Council, effectively the member state governments, must adopt its position. The final deal with the commission and the parliament would then be negotiated.
But in response to questions from The Irish Times this week the commission was critical of “the failure of governments to reach a common position among themselves” on the package of pay cuts and taxes.
“Until they adopt a common position, negotiations with the co-legislator [the European Parliament] cannot even begin,” a spokeswoman said.
In a statement, the Department of Public Enterprise and Reform, which is handling the reform package during the Irish presidency, said “deliberations within the council on the review of staff regulations have yet to reach a decisive stage, pending the outcome of the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020”.
The statement added: “As president of the council, Ireland intends to work to progress the review of staff regulations as expeditiously as possible in that context.”
However, German MEP Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, who reported on the issue for the parliament, said the Cypriot presidency had tried to make progress and Ireland should try harder to reach agreement.
She said the special levy of 5.5 per cent on EU salaries which was in force up to December 31st last could not be applied this year because of the failure to reach agreement. This effectively gives the staff a 5.5 per cent pay rise.
Ms Roth-Behrendt said she believed some member states were blocking the measures to advance their arguments for deeper cuts. Urging the Irish presidency to make progress, she said the failure to reach agreement was “irresponsible and disgusting”.