New statute tailor-made for assistants
By Célia Sampol | Friday 26 June 2009
The all new statute for parliamentary assistants will enter into force in mid-July together with the revised members’ statute (see separate article), bringing them out of the legal grey area in which they find themselves, which in some cases is close to illegal.
One of them, an assistant to a French Socialist MEP since October 2008, explains how over the past eight months he has discovered the workings of the European Parliament and wants to keep his job and more so, now that his work will soon be recognised within the Parliament. A brand new statute is to be introduced in the Parliament for a new category of ‘other Community agents’ - that of parliamentary assistant.
The main reform is that employment contracts will be concluded directly between the assistant and the European Parliament. The system is currently based on private law provisions, which leads to application of 27 different taxation and social security schemes. As from June, the EP will cover social security contributions, pension scheme payments and sickness benefits. The costs will not have an impact on the Union’s budget because they will be deducted from the monthly allowance of €17,540 paid to each member for ‘parliamentary assistance expenses’. Members may spend no more than 25% of this amount commissioning studies or advice from service providers.
The assistants will also be classified by grade – and their salary will vary accordingly – but there will not be any crossover mechanism allowing them to secure EU official status. MEPs will remain free to choose their assistants. The proposal to ban the hiring of family members or spouses will come under internal provisions. This regulation concerns assistants based in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, but also provides for management by recognised accounting bodies of the contracts of assistants working in member states.