EU staff pension regime
Exec may drag Council to court over refusal to okay adjustment
By Gaspard Sebag | Friday 20 July 2012
The European Commission is likely to drag the Council to court over the annual adjustment of EU civil servants’ contribution to their pension regime. The Council refuses to accept a lowering of that rate as suggested by the Commission in line with Eurostat data. Though there is no precise deadline for the Council to green-light the EU executive’s proposal, the latter considers that no leeway is available for member states to say ‘no’ to it.
Under the staff regulations, civil servants have to cover “one third of the actuarial cost of the pension scheme” through their salary. In line with this requirement, and based on complex calculations, Eurostat data show that EU staff should contribute 11% of their salary in order to maintain the actuarial balance of the pension regime. This would represent a drop compared to their current 11.6% contribution and is said to be linked to the lowering of EU civil servants’ salaries in the last few years. In late November 2011, the Commission therefore handed over to member states a draft Council regulation modifying retroactively, from 1 July that year, the contribution rate of civil servants.
Lowering EU staff contribution to their own pension does not go down well with member states, especially in times of budgetary constraint at national level. Thus, the Council failed twice to gather a qualified majority to adopt the Commission’s proposal, the latest snub having been handed down at Coreper (Committee of Permanent Representatives) level, on 19 July.
In a letter to the Danish Presidency, Commission chief José Manuel Barroso gave the Council until the end of August or beginning of September to adopt his institution’s proposal concerning the adjustment. Seeing as the Council is unlikely to move, the matter should end up in court.