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European Civil Service

The European Civil Service is the civil service serving the institutions of the European Union, of which the largest employer is the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. It is the permanent bureaucracy that implements the decisions of the Union’s government.

Civil servants are recruited directly into the institutions after being selected by competitions set by EPSO, the official selection office. They are allocated to departments, known as Directorates-General (DGs), each covering one or more related policy areas.

The Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs or the services), each headed by a director-general, and various other services. Each covers a specific policy area or service such as External Relations or Translation and is under the responsibility of a European Commissioner. DGs prepare proposals for their Commissioners which can then be put forward for voting in the college of Commissioners.

Whilst the Commission’s DGs cover similar policy areas to the ministries in national governments, European Civil Servants have not necessarily been trained, or worked, in a national civil service before employment in the EU. On entry, they do not therefore share a common administrative culture.

Agriculture and Rural Development AGRI European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
Budget BUDG European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget
Climate Action CLIMA European Commissioner for Climate Action
Communication COMM European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
Competition COMP European Commissioner for Competition
Economic and Financial Affairs ECFIN European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs
Education and Culture EAC European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion EMPL European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Energy ENER European Commissioner for Energy
Enlargement ELARG European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Enterprise and Industry ENTR European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Environment ENV European Commissioner for the Environment
Europe Aid Development and Cooperation DEVCO European Commissioner for Development
Eurostat ESTAT European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
Foreign Policy Instruments Service EEAS High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Health and Consumers SANCO European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy
Home Affairs HOME European Commissioner for Home Affairs
Humanitarian Aid ECHO European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Human Resources and Security HR European Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
Informatics DIGIT  
Information Society and Media INFSO European Commissioner for Digital Agenda
Internal Market and Services MARKT European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
Interpretation SCIC  
Joint Research Centre JRC European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Justice JUST European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries MARE European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Mobility and Transport MOVE European Commissioner for Transport
Regional Policy REGIO European Commissioner for Regional Policy
Research and Innovation RTD European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Secretariat General SG  
Taxation and Customs Union TAXUD European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
Trade TRADE European Commissioner for Trade
Translation DGT  

The EU institutions employ over 47 000 civil servants on salaries far above those that they would receive in their home countries in public service. The level is similar to that of civil servants in many member states’ embassies in Brussels and in other international organisations.

From July 2010 EU salaries varied from €2,654 for the lowest paid to €18,370 for the highest paid civil servant per month.

There are 16 salary classes with up to five categories for seniority. In addition to the salary, civil servants receive a family allowance, education allowances for kids and young students until 26 years and pension.

There is also a permanent expat allowance at 16% for foreigners moving to Brussels. The minimum expat allowance is €505.

The basic amount for a household allowance is €171.

The children allowance is €373.

The education allowance €253.

The unemployment allowance vary between €1,337 and € 2,674.

Civil servants working for EU institutions in other member states do not pay the local tax. The salaries are multiplied by an index for the living costs in the hosting country.

The salary scheme is decided every year by qualified majority among the ministers. The leaders of e.g. the EU information offices in the national capitals will therefore have monthly salaries much higher than those of the prime ministers. For civil servants with kids the net salary is higher than the official brut salaries. In the highest positions the salaries may be a little less because of EU tax.

During the financial crisis staff pay a 7% solidarity contribution and salary was only increased after some years. In the lower grades the contribution is 6% only.

EU staff are divided into 3 categories:

  • AD-persons are usually University graduates
  • AD-Linguists are translators and interpreters
  • AST-persons are secretaries and assistants

The Prodi Commission introduced staff reforms with more incentive-based pay, this resulted in some resistance from the staff unions. Full-time civil servants in Brussels can also once buy cars without paying local taxes on them.

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