European Commission pensions

European Commission pensions

Opportunity to secure an EU pension is an underappreciated, but a very significant benefit of working for the European Commission, European Parliament, European Council or any of the 40+ EU agencies and several other EU institutions. The EU pension is a defined benefits/final salary scheme that guarantees you an inflation-adjusted monthly income until your death. Additionally, after you pass away your surviving spouse will continue to receive a survivor’s pension until her/his death that is a significant part of the pension you were entitled to.

While all of the information below is from public sources, it is often hard to access and understand due to “legalese” and the the sheer size of the documents. This article outlines the main facts about ‘EU pensions’ in an easy to understand manner.

How to qualify for a European Commission pension?

Anyone who works for the European Commission, European Parliament, an EU agency or another EU institution, is entitled to an EU pension after 10 years of service. You have to accumulate your 10 years before you reach either the mandatory pension age (66 years in 2021) or early-retirement age (58 years in 2021).

You can work for different EU institutions at different times in your life. All of your employment periods in EU institutions will be summed up and count towards a 10-year minimum as long as you do not withdraw the accumulated pension capital to a private pension scheme.

The pension contribution (tax) is the largest deduction of one’s salary. 9.7% is automatically deducted from your salary each month to accumulate the pension capital, and no actions need to be taken by you.

What is the mandatory European Commission pension age?

The mandatory pension age is 66, at which you qualify for a full EU pension. It is possible to work until 70 if it is exceptionally justified. After reaching 70 a person is retired automatically and there is no possibility to remain in employment of EU institutions.

How large is a pension after working for EU institutions?

There is a minimum pension for former EU officials. It cannot be less then 40% of the basic salary for a temporary agent AST 1 (step 1). In 2021 this amounts to EUR 1200.24 (salary for AST 1 EUR 3,000.59 * 10 years of service * 4%).

European Commission Staff Regulations

Your pension after the 10 mandatory years of service cannot be less than the minimum pension for EU officials – see above. If you are interested in more detail, the answer depends on a number of factors:

  • Length of service. For each year of employment a person is entitled to 1,80% of the final basic salary. For example, if you have worked for EU institutions for 10 years, you will be entitled to 18% of your final basic salary; 20 years will qualify you for 36%; 30 years – 54%; 40 years – 72% (which will be capped at 70%).
  • Basic salary in last employment position. Your pension will be calculated as a percentage of the basic salary.
  • Pensions are adjusted to the actual cost of living in the European Union and should slightly increase over time.
  • The final pension amount may not exceed 70 % of the final basic salary.

If you have worked for several EU institutions, your pension will be calculated based on the last basic salary you received.

In practice, if you are an AD5 in Brussels at the end of your career with a basic salary of 4883, you would be entitled to the following amounts proportionally to the time worked for the EU:

  • 10 years = EUR 4883 basic monthly salary X 1.8% X 10 years = EUR 878.94. In this case you would instead receive the European Commission’s minimum pension of EUR 1200.24.
  • 20 years = EUR 1757.88
  • 30 years = EUR 2636.82
  • 40 years = EUR 3515.76

    Of course, if you start as an AD 5, your final basic salary would actually be higher as you would advance through the steps of the pay scale every two years. The above calculation is meant to just be an illustration of the principle.

Pensions and the Correction Coefficient

The European Commission Correction Coefficient is not applied to pensions (Article 82 of Staff Regulations). In practice this means that you will receive the same pension independent of where you live after retirement.

Can I retire early? What are the consequences?

The early retirement age is 58 years (in 2021).

An early retirement pension amount is reduced 3,5% for every year before mandatory pension age of 66. Hence, if you decide to retire at 58, you will incur a 28% reduction of your pension. Unfortunately, the pension will not increase once you reach the regular retirement age.

Can the EU pension be inherited by a surviving spouse and/or dependent children?

Yes. The surviving spouse of a former EU official is entitled to 60% of the pension paid to the official. The amount that can be inherited by dependent children varies on the individual situation and the ‘orphan’s pension’ can only be precisely calculated by the Paymaster’s Office.

EXAMPLE
If you are entitled to the minimum European Commission pension of EUR 1200.24 (100%)
THEN
your surviving spouse will receive up to EUR 720.14 (up to 60% of former official’s pension) until her/his end of life.

Divorced spouses are also entitled to a survivor’s pension if they can prove that the (former) EU official was supporting them based on a court order or an officially registered settlement in force between both parties.

If you are in such a situation, please contact either the European Commission’s Paymasters Office or the HR Department of the last institution your spouse was working for in order to find out the steps to take.

Very important – unless there are proven force majeure factors, the survivors pension has to be requested within one year of the former EU official’s death. Otherwise, the spouse’s and dependents’ rights are forfeited.

Does my EU pension capital accrue interest while I’m waiting for my pension age?

Yes. The accumulated pension amount accrues compound interest at a rate of 2.9% per year (in 2021).

What if I leave an EU job before I accumulate 10 years of service?

For most people the best strategy is to leave your pension capital with the European Commission Paymaster’s office as it accrues a 2.9% per annum in interest. You can accumulate your 10 years in EU institutions over an unlimited number of instances of working for EU institutions until the mandatory retirement age of 66.

Some institutions strongly encourage the “transfer out” of the accumulated EU pension capital claiming that it might be “very hard” to do it at a later date. However, there is no particular difference in the amount of work for you whether you decide to move your EU pension capital to a third tier pension management fund right after leaving an EU institution or much later. The only caveat – you pension capital left with the EU Paymasters Office will be completely lost if you happen to die before reaching your pension age. And, of course, don’t forget about your pension capital once your retirement age comes and you have not accumulated the necessary 10 years to qualify for an EU pension.

If you decide that you never again want to work for the EU, you can “transfer out” your pension capital to any of the European Commission-approved pension management schemes in all EU member states. The funds will only become available to you once you reach the age of 60.

Reasons to “transfer out” your accumulated EU pension capital:
*
You do not plan to ever again work for EU institutions
* You are certain that you will be able to invest your EU pension capital in an investment vehicle that returns substantially more than 2.9% per annum
* You are worried that you might die before retirement age (chronic disease, family health history, dangerous hobby, etc.)

Once you “transfer out” but again start working for a EU institution, you will be able to transfer in your accumulated pension capital, but not the accumulated ‘pension years’ to qualify you for an EU pension. So – choose carefully.

Not only an EU pension, but also health insurance for you and your spouse

After an EU official becomes entitled to an EU pension, the person and his/her spouse and any dependents also become entitled to the JSIS – the European Commission healthcare insurance scheme. It reimburses between 80-85% of most healthcare costs. If you have what are considered serious illnesses you can obtain a 100% reimbursement. This should be a major appeal for people in retirement.

If there are any dependents, the retiree is also entitled to the relevant allowances such as the household allowance and dependent child allowance.

Where to get consultations and help regarding European Commission pensions?

Former employees of EU institutions are usually advised to contact the HR department of the last institution they were employed by.

It is also possible to get in touch with Office for the Administration and Payment of Individual Entitlements also know as the Paymasters Office (PMO), contacts here. If you have questions about JSIS, the European Commission health insurance scheme, including coverage of funeral expenses, you can find the relevant Paymasters Office contacts here.

AIACE – International Association of Former Staff of the European Union

AIACE logo
AIACE logo

When you retire from an EU institution, consider becoming a member of AIACE. For the 40€ annual fee (differs by location of national units) you can get a number of benefits:

  • Access to a helpdesk (consultations on key retiree issues). Virtual and in-person consultations in Brussels
  • Legal assistance at a reduced fee
  • Special complimentary insurance availability to complement risks not covered by the JSIS (currently offered by Cigna)
    • Accident coverage
    • Coverage of the difference in all medical costs and those reimbursed by the JSIS
    • A monthly Cigna consultation
  • Quarterly VOX bulletin sent to all of the retired staff. National bulletins sent to members of country chapters
  • Yammer chat
  • Voluntary work opportunities and possibility to received help from other volunteers; social contacts and events

Main facts about AIACE:

  • AIACE has special Partnership Agreements with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, the European Social and Economic Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Court of Auditors, and the Council. All the above institutions recognize AIACE as the representative of their retired staff
  • Founded June 1969, AIACE has over 12000 members out of a total approximately 23500 retired staff
  • 15 national branches (20 retirees can form a national branch)
  • AIACE lobbies on behalf of retired EU officials and defends their rights at the European Commission and other EU institutions. AIACE is even an official member of a number of working groups that affected the interests of former EU administrative agents and contract agents

AIACE contact details:

  • Website: www.aiace-europa.eu/
  • Address: N105 00/23, 105 Avenue des Nerviens 00/036, Brussels, 1040, Belgium
  • Telelphone: (Belgium): 02.2952960
  • Email: aiace-int@ec.europa.eu

Do you still have questions regarding EU pensions?

As usual, if there is an unanswered question or you have spotted a mistake, please write a comments and me and the EUE community will do our best to help and update the article.

This article is based on the European Commission Staff Regulations and other publicly available information such as EU institutions’ vacancy announcements.

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65 responses to “European Commission pensions”

  1. Hi Ben,
    I am nearing retirement and will retire to the UK.
    Many years ago I worked 9 years ( duuurgh!!! ) for the EC as a contract agent. I was forced to transfer out my pension. I was given a list of schemes – only 2 were related to the UK and were ‘offshore’. I went with a company in Brussels and received something called ‘Deffered Annuity with Transfer of Benefits’ which will give me an annuity on retirement.

    My question is, will this be taxable in Belgium – I don’t see why because the money wasn’t generated in Belgium – but I know nothing of these matters.

    • First of all, sorry you could not collect the extra 1 year to qualify for the EU pension!

      As anything related to pensions is near to arcane magical runes, for this reason I’ll avoid even guessing an answer. It’s also clear that in this case you cannot address PMO, the EU Paymaster’s office.

      This totally is a question to your pension fund. Even if they won’t know the answer right away, they are best qualified to provide one as they are located in Belgium and will have access to your case files. Best of luck!

  2. Hi Ben,

    Thank you for the information that you post in this web page, and for answering our questions.

    According to Article 9 of Annex VIII of the Staff Regulations, “An official leaving the service before reaching pensionable age may request that his retirement pension: (A) be deferred until the first day of the calendar month following that in which he reaches pensionable age; or (B) be paid immediately, provided that he is not less than 58 years of age. In that case, the retirement pension shall be reduced by an amount calculated by reference to the official’s age when he starts to draw his pension”

    I just want to clarify something that is not clear in the wording of that article: what happens when the official leaves the service before reaching pensionable age and before he is 58 years of age? Is he then forced to go for option A (deferred pension), or can he still leave the service and when he becomes 58 request option B (early retirement)?

  3. Hi, as a fired contractor of external company (but work for EC) – do I have some rights to these benefits? I worked (and was allowed to) work remotely from other country and was fired unexpectedly. Do I have any rights? As I know there are much more people like me. Thank You!

    • Alef, I cannot provide a definitive answer, but from cases similar to yours I’ve gathered that you are not counted as a contractual staff member of any EU institution. Your contractual relationship is only with the company that hired and paid you (even though it was from monies received from the European Commission). I haven’t researched this, but I would look whether maybe there is a labour union that unites employees like you. That might be best placed to provide legal advice to you and also have relevant negotiation and litigation experience.

      If you can’t find one, you can always try to approach the labor inspectorate, labor board or an institution of a similar name in the country where your employer was incorporated to receive a consultation about your rights and possibly even further assistance.

  4. Did not get any confirmation of my last post, neither through this page, neither by mail. hence posting it again.

    « Hey there. I am currently ina screening process for an AD7 position in Belgium and I am a Belgian national with 1 daughter. Looking at your explanations, it’s at the same time clear and confusing.

    You say that it’s very interesting from a tax perspective as there is no national tax. Approximately it is around 40-45% in Belgium between gross and net salary. Currently I make a bit more in gross per month than the step 1 for AD7 and was trying to compare.

    Looking at different taxes you indicate here, it doesn’t seem to be tax free/low tax as it is generally adversited. I see there is a Social security tax (around 12%) , solidarity levy (6%) and EU income tax 8-45%. That brings in total to either 25ish% for lower salaries and (18+45) over 60% tax for higher salaries. Is this how we should understand this ? Because this confuses me as the difference with national taxes is not that different taking into account that I would be granted no expat allowance, no 13 month salary etc. When compared to some private company with a similar position, income and social taxes In Belgium are indeed 40-45%, but largely compensated by the 13 month, company car with fuel card, solid additional group insurance, lunch vouchers and solid group insurance and pension plan, yearly bonuses etc.

    So from a pure revenue perspective, even though it is advertised as being tax free or very low taxes while working at EU, globally it’s not that interesting in fact.

    Is my reasoning correct ? I may need to consider looking twice before making the move.

    Thanks for your reply « 

  5. Hey there. I am currently ina screening process for an AD7 position in Belgium and I am a Belgian national with 1 daughter. Looking at your explanations, it’s at the same time clear and confusing.

    You say that it’s very interesting from a tax perspective as there is no national tax. Approximately it is around 40-45% in Belgium between gross and net salary. Currently I make a bit more in gross per month than the step 1 for AD7 and was trying to compare.

    Looking at different taxes you indicate here, it doesn’t seem to be tax free/low tax as it is generally adversited. I see there is a Social security tax (around 12%) , solidarity levy (6%) and EU income tax 8-45%. That brings in total to either 25ish% for lower salaries and (18+45) over 60% tax for higher salaries. Is this how we should understand this ? Because this confuses me as the difference with national taxes is not that different taking into account that I would be granted no expat allowance, no 13 month salary etc. When compared to some private company with a similar position, income and social taxes In Belgium are indeed 40-45%, but largely compensated by the 13 month, company car with fuel card, solid additional group insurance, lunch vouchers and solid group insurance and pension plan, yearly bonuses etc.

    So from a pure revenue perspective, even though it is advertised as being tax free or very low taxes while working at EU, globally it’s not that interesting in fact.

    Is my reasoning correct ? I may need to consider looking twice before making the move.

    Thanks for your reply.

    • Hi! Apologies for only now replying to you! This is a hobby so I’m at times not able to respond to comments in a timely enough fashion for you and my other readers.

      I’ve recently posted articles on the approximate net salaries of the various types of contracts and grades, including AD7, posted here: https://euemployment.eu/administrators-ad7-salary/. The figures should be 90-95% correct, giving you a possibility to compare your income in the Commission vs a private sector employer.

      I hope that this article helps you to make decision whether to take the European Commission’s offer.

      In case you are considering taking an offer in another EU member state, always remember about the impact of the Correction Coefficient. But this is not a worry if you’re seeking employment in Brussels or Luxembourg.

  6. Dear Ben,

    Thank you for all these information that are very useful.

    If I was working 15 years in EU institutions as contractual / temporary agent in FG 1 and FG II group with the basic salary always less then AST 1, what would be my pension at the age 66?
    1200€ (because my basic salary was always less then AST1 or 1.5x 0,04x AST1, which gives 1800€.
    In previous posts i found some calculations for AD 5, AD 10 but not for the contractual/ temporary agents who were working for lower wages.

  7. What if one reaches pension age before accumulating 10 years of service? (E.g. someone who starts working for an eu institution or agency at 58). Such a person would have accumulated pension rights in a national scheme (having worked in their native country before taking up a job for the EU). Could they transfer their national pension rights to the EU scheme? Or would it be wiser for them to keep paying contributions to the national scheme to get a national pension, beause they will not be able to get any kind of EU pension with less than 10 years of service?

  8. Dear Ben,
    All the information you are giving is very useful and interesting. However, I think you should point out whether the “2014 Staff Regulations” apply or not. For those who became officials before 2014 the previous Staff Regulations apply with more advantageous terms. For example they can retire at 65 years and not 66 and the percentage of the final basic salary for each year can be higher (around 1,90-2,00%). Also please note that even if one was a contract agent before 2014, but became an official in 2014 then the “2014 Staff Regulation rules” apply which are a bit more disadvantageous compared to the previous ones. At least the above is what I was told by HR… Thanks and regards, Anna

  9. Hi Kepa,
    If you accrued 44% pension rights of your last salary and you retire at 58 you would get X (last basic salary) times 44% = Y – (times 28%) = Z example 8000 x 0.44 = 3520 x (1- 0.28) = 2534

  10. Dear Ben

    Your example above suggests that the option is between a minimum pension of 10 * 0.04 * 3000.59 = 1200.24 or a standard pension of years worked * 1.8 * final salary. The minimum pension is years worked * 0.04 * 3000.59, up to a total of 70% of final salary. So for your example figures:

    EUR 4883 final basic monthly salary.
    70% of 4883 = 3418.10

    10 years: EUR 4883 * 1.8% * 10 years = EUR 878.94. Minimum pension of EUR 3000.59 * 4% * 10 years = EUR 1200.24. End result = minimum pension, EUR 1200.24.

    20 years: EUR 4883 * 1.8% * 20 years = EUR 1757.88. Minimum pension of EUR 3000.59 * 4% * 20 years = EUR 2400.47. End result = minimum pension, EUR 2400.47.

    30 years: EUR 4883 * 1.8% * 30 years = EUR 2636.82. Minimum pension of EUR 3000.59 * 4% * 30 years = EUR 3600.70. End result = minimum pension, EUR 3418.10 (due to 70% cap).

    40 years: EUR 4883 * 1.8% * 40 years = EUR 3515.76 (EUR 3418.10 due to 70% cap). Minimum pension of EUR 3000.59 * 4% * 40 years = EUR 4800.94. End result = either, EUR 3418.10 (due to 70% cap).

    Now calculating as AD10 step 1, final basic salary 8064.86
    70% cap = 5645.40

    10 years: EUR 8064.86 * 1.8% * 10 years = EUR 1451.67. Minimum pension = EUR 1200.24 (calculation unchanged). End result = standard pension, EUR 1451.67.

    20 years: EUR 8064.86 * 1.8% * 20 years = EUR 2903.34. Minimum pension = EUR 2400.47. End result = standard pension, EUR 2903.34.

    30 years: EUR 8064.86 * 1.8% * 30 years = EUR 4355.02. Minimum pension = EUR 3600.70. End result = standard pension, EUR 4355.02.

    40 years: EUR 8064.86 * 1.8% * 40 years = EUR 5806.69 (EUR 5645.40 due to 70% cap). Minimum pension = EUR 4800.94. End result = standard pension, EUR 5645.40 (due to 70% cap).

  11. Dear Ben,

    If someone retires at AD7 after 10 years in an EU institution and gets the minimum pension on account of having only done 10 years and having retired several years before the normal retirement age, are they entitled to any cash sum in addition to the minimum pension amount, given that their contributions will have been higher than those of some other people who would be entitled to the minimum amount?

    Many thanks,

    Michael

  12. Dear Ben,
    I am a former European official who worked as a temporary agent at the EU Court of Justice for about 3 years. At the end of the contract, in 2013, I received a notification from the CJEU by which I was informed that by virtue of art. 11, 1 and 12, 1(b) of Annex VIII to Staff Regulations, I have the right to transfer the related pension rights to a pension fund/system of my choice.
    I am currently 62 years old and, so far, I have not yet requested the transfer of pension rights to a pension fund/system of my country of origin.
    I would like, if I may, to ask two questions:

    I. The first question refers to the significance of art. 12, 1 of Annex VIII to Staff Regulations.
    According to this provision:
    “1. An official aged less than 63 years whose service terminates otherwise than by reason of death or invalidity and who is not entitled to an immediate or deferred retirement pension shall be entitled on leaving the service:
    (a) where he has completed less than one year’s service and has not made use of the arrangement laid down in Article 11(2), to payment of a severance grant equal to three times the amounts withheld from his basic salary in respect of his pension contributions, after deduction of any amounts paid under Articles 42 and 112 of the Conditions of Employment of other servants;
    (b) in other cases, to the benefits provided under Article 11(1) or to the payment of the actuarial equivalent of such benefits to a private insurance company or pension fund of their choice, on condition such company or fund guarantees that:
    (i) the capital will not be repaid;
    (ii) a monthly income will be paid from age 60 at the earliest, and age 65 at the latest;
    (iii) provisions are included for reversion or survivors’ pensions;
    (iv) transfer to another insurance company or other fund will be authorised only if such fund fulfils the conditions laid down in points (i), (ii) and (iii)”.

    The phrase, “An official aged less than 63 years (…) shall be entitled on leaving the service (…)” means that I have to transfer the pension rights acquired during the period I worked at the CJEU, until reaching the age of 63, or I have this right even after reaching the age concerned?

    II. The second question concerns the EU institution competent to receive the request for transfer of pension rights
    As I said, the notification on the transfer of my pension rights was issued by the institution I worked for, the CJEU. I understand that now the request must be addressed to the Commission’s services (PMO).
    Could you please tell me if there is a specific service within the PMO that deals with receiving transfer requests, which can be consulted on the concrete procedure to follow? And what would be the contact details of this service?
    Kind regards,
    Ion

  13. Hi Ben. If I worked for 1 year in EU CSDP mission as a seconded expert.
    Is that experience will also be included in the 10 years service?

    Thanks, cheers.

  14. Hi Ben,
    you answered to the question ”I have also read that early retirement pension amount is reduced 3,5% for every year before mandatory pension age of 66.
    Is this reduction of 3.5% aplicable to the minum of 1200.2 as well?”

    with your post
    (Ben says: January 10, 2022 at 11:19
    That’s a great question, to which I at the moment don’t know the answer about. When I’ll find out, I’ll update the article.)

    Have you clarify that question now? Indeed I remember that during a PMO training back in 2019, it was said that the 1200,2 EUR minimum was not reduced by 3,5% annually in case of early retirement between 58 and 66. But maybe I remember incorrectly… Thank you.

  15. “ He shall, however, be entitled to such pension irrespective of length of service, if he is over pensionable age,”
    I will have 11 years of service at the age of 61. Does the above provision mean that even if I am entitled to an EU pension ( min 10 yrs of service), I have to wait to request my retirement until the age of 66? But then I would be out of the EU system. Or can I request the minimum EU pension ( the subsistence) at the age of 61 and 11 yrs of service?

    • Corine, if you have 10 years in the EU system, you can request an early retirement from the age of 58. However, there is a permanent deduction for each year before age 66.

      To find out the size of your pension and related rules, it would be best to ask your institution’s HR or directly to PMO! Consider to also attend one of the PMO seminars about pension rights offered to staff of EU institutions.

  16. Hi Ben, I have a child with someone who retired from the European commission but he passed away before we could get married, is my child entitled to child support from the European Commission?
    If so, what would my child get.
    Thanks.

    • I’m no expert in this, so please doublecheck, but a child’s entitlement to the survivor’s pension and maybe also JSIS coverage should not depend on the parents’ marital status. The only thing that matters should be whether paternity/maternity is recognized (I assume this case is about paternity).

      The best course of action would be to get in touch in writing with HR of the institution your partner used to work for, or with PMO in Brussels. They will advise you on any missing documents, and if some payments have been missed, the child should get these in one payment for all of the past period.

  17. Hello, my pensionable age is 62 and 8 months but I will reach 70% pension rights at the age of 61 and 6 months. Moreover I have a transfer of 14 months pension rights from previous job. With the malus for ”Early leaving” half of this transfer is lost and I m penalised despite I Will have worked the number of years requested. Any suggestion for this discriminatory situation for staff hired at young age ? Thanks a lot

    • Thank you for pointing out one more problematic issue with COM HR rules. My best suggestion would be to get in touch with AIACE, the association of retired EU civil servants and see whether this could be brought before the Court of Justice of the EU. If the case is succesful, you could benefit from a ruling still within your lifetime.

  18. Lenght of service. Sorry but there is a mistake in the percentage reached after 30 and 40 years of service. 30 y x 1,8% is 54 and 40 x 1,8 makes 72. Moreover the maximum pension rights you can get is 70. Have a nice day

    • Thank you for pointing out my arithmetical mistake, very much appreciated. I’ve now corrected the article.

  19. Hello,
    I’ve accepted a job with EC. I am 49 and I have already cumulated 25 working years. If I work for the EC until 64, I will reach 40 years of career, which, in the country I lived now, would allow me to retire with a special option for women. If at 64 I resign from EC and come back to my country and go to pension according to this rule, will I receive also the EC pension? or should I wait 66 years or the EC pension will be reduced (as explain in the article)?
    Thank you.

    • Hi! The EC does not have favorable conditions to women. The retirement age is the same for men and women – 66. However, you can choose early retirement, as you would have accumulated 10 years of EU service already by the time you turn 59. However, each year of early retirement permanently decreases the pension you are entitled to.
      Another option is to “transfer out” your EU pension at 64 to the national pension scheme (I assume to Italy). In this case your national pension institution would do a calculation of your final pension, taking into account the years worked for the EU and/or the accumulated pension capital in EU system.
      The EC Paymaster’s Office always recommends to write a written request a year of less before you plan to retire to them to find out which option (transfer-in, transfer-out, or trying to receive both the EU and the national pension) is better for you based on real numbers.

  20. Dear Ben,

    I came across all the information you have provided on the EUEA website regarding EU pensions. I read that to find out more on “transfer in” procedures, one should join a PMO training session. I am external so will try to see how to join- thanks.

    However, in the mean time, I was wondering if you could share your views on my scenario below- I have worked in the EU as follows:
    • Sep 2001- Dec 2006 in the United Kingdom – am qualified for a UK pension as I am still contributing each year for the shortfall and will continue to do so until 2037 (when I turn 67) at which point I will be entitled to a full UK pension
    • April 2007 – to date (roughly 12 years) in Belgium paying full BE taxes

    My question is, if I join an EU institution say next year in 2023 (I will be 53 years old at that point) and work for the next 10 years for example as a FG IV Grade 16/17 until 63 years old, would the “transfer in” from both BE (and possibly the UK) work to my advantage?

    Is there a quota system where my full contribution in the UK and my 12 years in BE are equivalent to certain amounts of EU years? Meaning, are the contributions increased or decreased in comparison to EU pension years?

    Lastly, besides the fact that the EU pension and “transfer in” amounts would be tax free and there would be health insurance until death, is there anything else to consider?

    Voila, am trying to decide if I should stay employed as an External and continue paying BE taxes until retirement or if now is the time to move and join the EU for the next 10 years of my career. My salary under BE taxes is equivalent to FG IV under EU remuneration so I do not need to change employers for the salary.

    Many thanks for any advice or insights you may have to share with me.

    Kind regards,

    Simon

    • Dear Simon,
      Thank you for the elaborate question. While I’m afraid I won’t be able to respond with the same level of detail as in your question, let me share what I can.

      I’m not certain if you can join EU-learn courses as an External, but certainly worth a try. Usually this is managed by HR or an entity in charge of training.
      In worst case scenario I’m certain you have colleagues among regular staff that can sign up and let you listen in.

      I would seriously think about joining an institution as regular staff because even if you work for 10+ years, you will not be forced to take the EU pension. Until you decide to (not) take the EU pension, you are free to both “transfer in” and “transfer out”. This means that if you see that there’s a larger benefit of transferring out to the Belgian pension system, you will be able to do that. (I’m not sure you would be able to transfer out to the UK, however, that might be an option after Brexit considering the large number of UK nationals that were working for the EU.)

      From what I’ve gathered the procedure for transfer in and out is similar. Before you make a decision, you can ask PMO to do a precise calculation based on your real contribution data. I guess you could do the same in BE and UK, to see which scenario makes sense.

      Besides the pension and the JSIS coverage for you and partner there’s not much else… maybe the survivor’s pension for your spouse if you pass away first.
      Personally for me the JSIS coverage seems to be really appealing as it’s the retirement age when I expect I’ll make most use of the healthcare services. 🙂

  21. And how does it work, the other way around? If you want to transfer into eu pension system, any accumulated amount coming from a previous contribution to a private pension fund.
    Is it possible ? I have just joined the commission as official and I have previously contributed to a private pension fund, and I am wondering if it is possible and worth to transfer it
    Thanks

    • This question was already answered below. In short, you can “transfer-in” your pension capital, however, what counts is not the years of contributions, but the amount, which is then “equalized” to your contributions from the EU salary.

  22. Hi Ben,
    I left an EU agency with a 44% contribution at the time. I’m 49 now. If I want to get early retirement at the age of 58, will my pension be 44-28% = 16% or €1200 (whichever is the highest)?
    Thank you.
    Kepa

    • Dear Kepa,
      Your calculation looks about right, however, the best thing would be to write to PMO and find out precisely. Their reply might take a while, but they would operate with actual data of your case.
      If you decide to retire early and take the substantially decreased pension, two considerations: a) I’m not at all certain that you would get the minimum pension if you retire at 58.. I do not know whether it also does not get proportionally decreased; 2) It might make sense to “transfer out” all of your accumulated pension capital and invest it, for example, in real estate to rent it out. It might be that rental income is larger than the minimum pension. Here, again, information from the PMO might be very useful.

  23. Hi Ben,

    thank you for this. I have a question: what happens if over time my salary decreases? Take the case of someone who worked as a referendaire for 6/7 years at a AD10/11 salary and after they leave the Court they find a AD7/8 job with each the cross the ten year limit. Would they really receive 18% of the AD7/8 salary?

    also for people working as referendaires or parliamentary assistants depending highly on their judge/MEP’s mandate, do they get unemployment benefits after the end of their boss’s mandate if they did not want to leave themselves?

    thank you in advance!

    • Alex, hi! I now nothing of how the CJEU operates. I assume it might be similar to the European Commission, but there might be some differences considering the independent status of the institution.
      Regarding the first question, PMO in one of their webinars said that pension is calculated proportionally to your average income. So it would be somewhere between AD10 and AD7.
      As to the second question, please ask your institution’s HR.

  24. dear madam, sir

    I have worked for 7,5 years for the EU, I have received indeed the advice to transfer the funds to a third party pension fund; PMO says I will NEVER receive the pension capital accumulated and that I am obliged sooner or later to place it in a fund to receive monthly payments.

    In several of the comments above I read however that I could receive the full amount in cash upon retiring not working for the commission? which is the correct statement?

    further, some horrible info: to transfer the capital a fund asks 5000 transfer cost, and the broker ‘takes’ another 2,5 per cent. This broker has the ‘monopoly’ in Belgium and Luxemburg, which is not EU-like. Are people aware of this malicious practice?

    So in case it would be possible to receive the funds as a whole, it would solve this particular issue. How to go about please

    • Dear Nic, let me try to answer what I can.
      1) Transfer out of accumulated pension capital – I’ve heard of particularly colleagues in the European Commission to be receiving such “threat” letters. However, I know of no rule that would not allow you to leave your pension capital with PMO until shortly before retirement and only then to decide what to do with this. There is always the possibility that you return to an EU institution and get the missing 2.5 years to get an EU pension and JSIS coverage for your retirement.
      2) Getting access to your pension capital – as far as I know, you can transfer it to a 3rd tier private pension fund any day. However, if you want to use the whole lump sum, I believe, you can withdraw it from the pension fund only upon reaching the age of 55. But I do not have a source for this, I think I heard it in one of PMO’s webinars on pensions. If important, please write to PMO to clarify.
      3) Private pension fund fees – you allowed to transfer out to any EU Member State fund. If BE or LU funds charge exorbirtant fees, consider FR or other country. There is a full list of accredited pension funds somewhere on the Commission website.

  25. Dear Ben, thank you for your log and apologies if this has been answered already.

    If I move to a European Institution (one of the agencies) now at age 53 and IF I manage to stay over the 10 years mark ….can I bring over the 23 years already accrued for a State (PUBLIC) pension within one other Member State (Ireland), in order to get a better EU pension ?
    If the answer is yes, who would be the Body responsible to address this issue to do the pertinent calculations when the right time comes…?

    Thanks so much for the help in advance. Much appreciated. Kind regards

    Gon

    • Dear Gon,

      Yes, this is possible. However, you would not be able to transfer 23 years proportionally. To oversimplify, PMO, the EU Paymaster Office in charge of pensions of EU institutions, would look at your accumulated pension capital and equate it to your average pension contributions while working for the EU agency. If the contributions are sufficiently high, you could still get your 23 years, but it might also happen that you are credited with less than 23 years.

      This practice is hugely problematic for EU officials coming from poorer EU MS, but might not be such a big issue for an Irish national.

      I warmly suggest that once you start working for your agency, sign up for one of the regular training/info sessions organized by PMO on the “EU learn” platform (ask your HR about it). There you also get to ask questions to colleagues at PMO.

      Once your retirement arrives, you can ask for PMO to do a calculation to see if the so-called “transfer in” of your Irish pension capital makes sense, or if you are better off by receiving both the EU and the Irish pensions.

  26. Ben says:
    February 28, 2022 at 11:54
    To find out precise details, I warmly suggest to sing up for one of the many PMO seminars for EU institutions’ staff.
    In short – yes, it’s possible. However, you can transfer the funds to a 3rd tier (private) pension fund in any EU MS that has an agreement with PMO. The funds will only become accessible to you when you turn 55. Then you can either take out the whole amount, or leave it at the fund in exchange for pension payments.

    Hello Ben,
    This is the first time ever I see a reference to getting the funds at 55. Cold you please expand on that? I have 8.x years, short of 10 and I am not sure I will ever be able to finalize those 10 years. Interjections aside, it wold make a big difference in my choice to know that I would have access to that capital at 55 and not at 65.

    Thanks a lot.
    F

  27. Dear Ben,

    I have another question maybe you can help me again.
    In the case that I work for the EU less then 10 years, it’s possible to make a cash-out instead of a transfer out of my contribution to the EU pension scheme?
    I mean, that I receive the whole amount at once? Is this possible somehow?

    Kind regards,

    • To find out precise details, I warmly suggest to sing up for one of the many PMO seminars for EU institutions’ staff.
      In short – yes, it’s possible. However, you can transfer the funds to a 3rd tier (private) pension fund in any EU MS that has an agreement with PMO. The funds will only become accessible to you when you turn 58. Then you can either take out the whole amount, or leave it at the fund in exchange for pension payments.

  28. Dear Ben,

    I have a doubt, maybe you can help me out.
    If I work 10 years for the EU so that I’m eligible for a pension, but then I go back to my country and work there until I retire, can I receive from one side my pension from my country and on top de EU pension?

    Or it’s mandatory to choose between them, transfer in or out and have only one pension?

    • The EU pension can be received in parallel to other pension-like entitlements, no problem here. Remember also that the EU institutions pension may not be taxed by national authorities, just like your salary. Regarding national pension and whether its payment might be affected by you receiving an EU pension, you would have to check national legislation/consult the relevant state institution. Best of luck!

  29. A hypothetical scenario regarding survivors/spouse pension:

    I reached my 10 years , and plan to leave the EU institution and leave the pension in the EU pot. With my minimum of 1200 waiting for 2048.

    Im not due to reach my pensionable age till its year 2048.

    AND (lets just imagine) THEN something happens and I die quite a few years BEFORE my due pensionable age.

    Would my surviving spouse receive the 60% survivors pension or any kind of allowances straight AFTER DEATH? Or only after the actual due pensionable age of 2048?

    It’s a dark one, not planing to die, but i think this point needs a bit more clarity for family members to know what and when they could get in terms of support.

    thanks you Ben, very useful website

    • Roberto, thank you for another great question which I again will have to clarify with PMO when the opportunity presents itself. If you happen to find out the answer before the rest of us, as usual, please share.

  30. Hello,

    I have received an offer from an EU institution. I have read that there is a minimum pension for former EU officials. It cannot be less then 40% of the basic salary for a temporary agent AST 1 (currently EUR 1200.24).
    I have also read that early retirement pension amount is reduced 3,5% for every year before mandatory pension age of 66.
    Is this reduction of 3.5% aplicable to the minum of 1200.2 as well?

    Thanks.

    Fran

    • That’s a great question, to which I at the moment don’t know the answer about. When I’ll find out, I’ll update the article.
      The PMO regularly organized only webinars about pension rights. Do sign up for one of these through your institution to get answers to the above and similar questions.

  31. If you enter service late in life and with a fair size of accumulated pension in a national scheme, can you transfer this in to the EU scheme and use that to take you over the 10y requirement? Say you have a fund which is equivalent to 7y contributions when you join. You transfer that in and work for 5y before retiring. Are you then eligible for a EU pension?

    • Hi! As far as I’m aware, you cannot reach the 10y participation requirement by importing your national pension scheme participation time. The 10 years have to be collected in the EU pension scheme.

      However, you will be entitled to an EU pension if you retire from an EU institution before you reach 10 years of service. In this case the years accumulated under the national pension scheme and transferred in the EU scheme might increase your pension amount.

      PMO regularly organizes workshops on “transfer in” of pension rights, please sign up to these workshops, they are very useful and give you the possibility to ask questions directly.

  32. Hi Ben
    Thank you very much for the very interesting read.
    This fall I reached 10 years of working for an EU institution.
    In the meantime I asked for an estimate for a transfer of my pension right from my home country, the 4 years I accumulated there translate in 6 months in the EU system.
    Long story short now: I am planning to do something completely different in my life, might get into private business in my home town in a couple of years.
    If I’m to leave my so far accumulated funds in the EU pension system, I will be entitled to the pension when I am 58 or 66? I am asking because once I get out of the EU institution, I am not planning to be back.
    Thanks very much in advance for you help. Best,
    Anja

    • Hi!
      1) Regarding transfers-in from national to the EU pension system, I’m still trying to understand all the details, but I believe that what counts is the amount of funds transferred-in, rather than your period of insurance in the national pension scheme. Funds accumulated in the national scheme are equalized with the amount of contributions in one year in the EU system. So it will differ from case to case.
      2) Regarding early retirement, see section “Can I retire early? What are the consequences?”. Yes, you can retire as early as age 58, however, you pension will be decreased by 3.5% a year or 28% from what you would be entitled at 66 and will remain so until your death.

      You can withdraw the funds from 58 onwards. This applies both if you’ve left the funds with the EU pension system or you’ve transferred-out to a 3rd tier pension fund (privately managed fund) in an EU MS. It appears that you might be financially savvy. If so, you can evaluate whether you are able to find a privately managed pension fund from the ones approved by PMO in any EU MS, and that has a higher growth rate than the flat rate you get in the EU pension system. If you choose the latter, you might have substantially higher pension or funds to withdraw at age of 58 or later, but you might also make a poor choice and actually receive less.

      • Thanks, Ben 🙂
        You are absolutely right about transfers, what matters is the amount in €€. Coming from a relatively new MS, my funds accumulated in 4 years in the national scheme got me a 6 months and 10 days in the EU pension system.
        Thank you for the effort in publishing informations about the EU pension scheme, I really appreciate it.
        Best,
        Anja

  33. Dear Ben,

    I think that the 10 years of service is not the case for all. The staff regulation mentions:

    An official who has completed at least ten year’s service shall be entitled to a retirement pension. He shall, however, be entitled to such pension, irrespective of length of service, if he is over pensionable age, if it has not been possible to reinstate him during a period of non-active status or in the event of retirement in the interests of the service.

    “ He shall, however, be entitled to such pension irrespective of length of service, if he is over pensionable age,”

    In other words, a permanent official hire at the age of 55, with one year of service and 10 years CCP, in my view he/she will be eligible for the minimum pension. Is this right?

    Many thanks,
    Ioannis

    • Dear Ioannis,

      Thank you for pointing this out! I believe that you are, in fact, right and I have overlooked this provision in the Staff Regulation. This actually merits a separate, highly visible section in the article as an excellent pre-retirement move for a lot of experienced professionals in EU countries where pensions are low. I will update the article at the closest opportunity.

      P.S. I’m so happy that pooling information from the readers and benefiting from all of your experiences works more and more frequently with this blog/page to all of our advantage. I hope that people will point out things that I’ve missed or should be clearer about more frequently as it improves the content significantly.

  34. Dear Ben,

    What would happen in this example?
    You work for 10 years in the EU.
    You then leave for several years.

    Case 1: You apply for the minimum pension at the age of 66
    Case 2: You apply for the minimum pension at the age of 58

    Is the minimum pension of 1200 euros reduced in case 2, by 28%

    In both cases, the amount of years is the same. Also, one maybe have accumulated these ten years between his 48th and 58th birthday, and another between his 55th and 65th birthday.

    Thank you

    • Case 2 unfortunately is correct. And worst of all – the pension does not increase to 100% after you reach the age of 65. So a really tough choice for those who want to retire earlier than 65 and enjoy life (like I would do if I could).

      I did not really get what you meant in your last paragraph.

      • Thank you for your kind reply. Indeed, I should rephrase the second paragraph 🙂

        Person A person and person B work for 10 years each.

        – Person A from the age of 48 to 58
        – Person B from the age of 56 to 66

        Person A’s minimum pension is 864 euros
        Person B’s minimum pension is 1200 euros

        Is this correct?

      • Elm, in reply to your Oct 25 clarification, both persons are entitled to the same amount of pension. It would be ~1200 or higher (depending on last salary) if both persons claim their pension at the age of 66. It does not matter that one of them stopped contributions to the system earlier than the other. The pension would only be decreased in case of EU pension claim before the age of 66 (any period from 58-66).

  35. I have accumulated 6 yrs of FGIV pension contribution in the EC system. I left the EC recently, and while they push to channel your funds out, they can not legally require it. What is your advise, what should me (and thousands of others) do? What is better, leave the funds in the EC – and what this would mean in terms or claiming it later (in 10-20 years), in terms of amount and choices?

    • Indeed, you cannot be forced to withdraw funds from the EU pension system.

      While each situation is different and there might be more nuanced circumstances for each individual person, in most cases the decision to withdraw or keep funds in the EU pension system should depend on whether you ever again plan to work for the EU and qualify for the EU pension. As written above, one needs 10 years of service to qualify. In your case you only need 4 more years, so it might be reasonable to keep the funds in. It is always possible to withdraw the funds, unless you suddenly die in which case the funds disappear. It is much harder and more expensive to rejoin the EU pension system if you have withdrawn the funds.

      If you are certain that will never again work for the EU, then it actually makes sense to withdraw the funds and invest in a 3rd tier private pension funds that offers returns larger than capital growth in the EU pension system. If you find a pension fund that just invests in the so-called index funds, then you are almost certain to have higher returns on your pension capital than the EU pension system offers.

      I have personally chosen to stay with the EU pension system as a) it’s a relatively safe bet, b) capital still grows more or less in line with inflation, c) there are other benefits at pension age such as the survivor’s pension for one’s spouse and entitlement to JSIS. All of this makes the EU pension scheme attractive to me.

  36. Dear Ben (?),

    Thank you for this comprehensive explanation. Question: if I work in PL with a coefficient 70,9%, and after service, I return to BE, will my pension be calculated on bases of my last salary (70,9%) or will it be 100% based on BXL coefficient? Additionally, what means ‘transfer’ in the 2nd column of the coefficient table?

    Thank you.

    Ika

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  1. Alef, I cannot provide a definitive answer, but from cases similar to yours I’ve gathered that you are not counted…