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This is a glossary of terms related to vacancies and employment in the European Commission and other EU institutions. If there is an article related to a particular term, the explanation will link to that resource.

Please use [CTRL + F] to find the term you are looking for more quickly, or click on a term to go to its explanation.

A | Ability to work in a third EU language | AD5, AD6, AD7, AD8, AD9, AD10, AD11, AD12, AD13, AD14, AD15, AD16 | Administrators | Agent contractuel | Allowances | AIACE | Assistants | AST1, AST2, AST3, AST4, AST5, AST6, AST7, AST8, AST9, AST10, AST11 | AST/SC 1-6 |

B | Basic salary or Basic pay | Birth grant | Blue Book trainee |

C | CAST | Commission Representation | Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) | Contract agent | Correction coefficient | Council of Europe (CoE) | Council of the European Union | Court of Auditors | Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) |

D | Daily subsistence allowance | DG (Directorate-General) | Disability |

E | Education allowance | EEAS (European External Action Service) | EPSO (European Personnel Selection Office) | #EUcareers | EU delegations | Europass | European Commission | European Council | EDA (European Defence Agency) | EIGE (European Institute for Gender Equality) | European Parliament | European Parliament Positive Action Programme | European School | European Union agencies | Eurostat | Évaluation de la capacité à travailler dans une troisième langue | Expatriation allowance |

F | FG I, FG II, FG III, FG IV | Fonctionnaire | Foreign residence allowance | Frontex | Function group |

G | Grade |

H | Household allowance |

I | Income tax | Installation allowance | Interim staff (Intérimaire) |

J | Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS) |

M | Medical examination | Mission |

N | No-cost SNE |

O | Official EU languages |

P | Pensions of the officials and other servants of the European Union | Permanent official | Place of employment | Place of origin | PMO | Preschool allowance |

R | Reasonable accommodation | Removal expenses | Representation allowance | Reserve lists |

S | Salary grid and Salary scales | SNE (Seconded National Expert) | Secretaries and clerks | Solidarity levy | Staff Regulations | Step |

T | Temporary agent | Trainee | Travel costs on taking up duties |

U | Unemployment allowance |


Ability to work in a third EU language

The Staff Regulation requires most categories of employees of EU institutions to prove their ability to work in a third EU language (in French – Évaluation de la capacité à travailler dans une troisième langue) before their first promotion or award of an indefinite employment contract. Read an article about the requirement for a third EU language to find out more.

AD5, AD6, AD7, AD8, AD9, AD10, AD11, AD12, AD13, AD14, AD15, AD16

All grades in which Administrators at the European Commission and other EU institutions are placed. AD5 is the initial grade for Administrators while AD16 is the highest grade for Administrators that is reserved for most senior officials of the European Union, usually at the level of Director-General, the head of a DG.


EU officials in the grades AD5 to AD16. Usual tasks for administrators entail HR management, policy and legislation drafting, and advising senior EU officials. They are supported in their work by Assistants and Contract Agents. This is the most sought-after category of employment in EU institutions at it has the highest remuneration and best career prospects.

AD5 to AD7 are considered entry-level grades, AD9 to AD12 are considered middle management grades, while AD 13 to AD16 is the upper management at the European Commission and other EU institutions.

Following the 2008-2009 economic crisis, the separation of tasks between Administrators and other categories of employees of EU institutions has become less clear cut, and one can expect to perform Administrator-like tasks also as an Assistant or a Contract Agent in the FG IV grade.

Articles about salaries of Administrators in various grades:

AD5 | AD7 | AD16

Agent contractuel

‘Agent contractuel’ is the French term for a ‘Contract agent in EU institutions.


‘Allowances’ are financial payments to employees of EU institutions that are paid on top of the ‘basic salary‘, depending on an employee’s personal or professional situation. Examples of allowances are the Household allowance, Daily subsistence allowance, Education allowance, Expatriation allowance, Foreign residence allowance.

AIACE (International Association of Former Staff of the European Union)

AIACE is the association of former employees of EU institutions. AIACE enjoys 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 of the European Union. All the above institutions recognize AIACE as the representative of their retired staff. AIACE was founded in 1969, and it has around 12000 members. Article about pensions for EU staff where AIACE is described in more detail.


EU officials in the grades AST1 to AST11. Usual tasks for administrators entail mostly technical, but sometimes also executive functions in administration and human resources, finance, and IT. Less frequently assistants can also perform communication, research and policy-related tasks.

The roles of ‘Assistants’ should not be confused with secretarial and lower-level administrative tasks. While there are secretaries that are ‘administrators’, regular secretaries and clerks have a separate category of AST/SC.

Article about salary of Assistant AST4

AST1, AST2, AST3, AST4, AST5, AST6, AST7, AST8, AST9, AST10, AST11

All grades in which Assistants at the European Commission and other EU institutions are placed. AD1 is the initial grade for Assistants while AD11 is the highest grade for Assistants, that can put a person in a very senior role in EU institutions with significant managerial duties.

AST/SC 1-6

A separate grade reserved for Secretaries and Clerks at the European Commission and other EU institutions. Professionals in the AST/SC grades are usually involved in tasks related to office management and administrative support to managers and staff in AD and AST grades. Placement in an AST/SC grade does not require completion of university studies (bachelors or masters).


Basic salary or Basic pay

A ‘basic salary’ or ‘basic pay’ is the amount an employee of an EU institution is entitled to according to the relevant ‘scale of basic salaries‘ for Administrators, Assistants, or Contract agents. Any allowances and other entitlements are not counted as part of the basic salary. All basic salaries are indexed by the Correction coefficient. Article about remuneration for Administrators, Assistants and Contract agents.

Birth grant

A ‘Birth grant’ is a one-time payment to an EU official due to birth of a new child or adoption of a child younger than five years of age. The amount of the Birth grant is EUR 198,31, subject to the Correction coefficient.

Blue Book trainee

A ‘Blue Book trainee’ is a participant in the European Commission traineeship programme. The programme got its name from the “blue book” in which pre-selected candidates’ names were listed in the pre-internet age.

Blue book traineeship starts each year either on March 1 or October 1 and lasts for five months. Applications must be submitted 7 months before each traineeship cycle (in August for the March cycle and in January for the October cycle).

Trainees receive a monthly grant (stipend) and reimbursement of travel expenses at the start and end of the traineeship. In 2022 the monthly grant for Blue Book trainees is EUR 1’252.68. On average, the European Commission offers 1800 traineeship positions annually.

Most other EU institutions also offer traineeships that are usually managed by each institution directly.



CAST stands for ‘Contract Agents Selection Tool’. It is a procedure used by EPSO to select job applicants for positions in Function Groups I-IV. Information about Contract Agents salaries | EPSO CAST information

Commission Representation

A ‘Commission Representation’ is a European Commission “embassy” in each of the EU member states. The same institution in a non-EU country is called an ‘EU delegation‘ or an ‘EU office’.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL)

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (abbreviated as CEFRL, CEFR or CEF) is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages in the European Union. CEFRL makes it easier for employers and other organizations to evaluate the language qualifications of potential employees. CEFRL was created by the Council of Europe (not an EU institution) between 1989 and 1996. The European Union officially adopted the use of CEFRL in 2001, including for the assessment of officials’ knowledge of a third EU language. Read the full Wikipedia article on CEFRL.

Contract agent

Contract agents, also known as ‘contract staff’, are employees of EU institutions in grades FGI to FGIV. This is a separate category of employees of EU institutions that are usually hired for time-limited contracts of up to six years to address the lack of officials in AD and AST positions and save EU budget funds.

Contract agents can perform a wide variety of tasks at an EU institution, ranging from administrative and manual support to involvement in support to policy making and implementation. FGI – Manual and administrative support service tasks, performed under the supervision of officials or temporary staff; FGII – Clerical and secretarial tasks, office management and other equivalent tasks, performed under the supervision of officials or temporary staff; FGIII – Executive tasks, drafting, accountancy and other equivalent technical tasks, performed under the supervision of officials or temporary staff; FGIV – Administrative, advisory, linguistic and equivalent technical tasks, performed under the supervision of officials or temporary staff.

Becoming a ‘Contract agent’ is a common career path to attaining an AD or AST contract, as it gives a possibility to learn about an institution and later effectively participate in competitions for better-paid vacancies.

Read more about Contract agents. Articles about salaries of EU staff in grades FGI, FGII, FGIII and FGIV.

Correction coefficient

The European Commission ‘Correction coefficient’ is an adjustment that increases or decreases the salary of an EU official based on the relative price level of consumer goods and services in the place of employment, compared to Brussels. The correction coefficient for Brussels is always 100%, and is adjusted at least once every year. Article on the European Commission Correction coefficient.

Council of Europe (CoE)

The Council of Europe (‘Conseil de l’Europe’ (CdE) in French) is an international organisation founded in 1949. It is most widely known as the guardian of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is enforced by an institution of the CoE – the European Court of Human Rights.

The Council of Europe is NOT an institution of the European Union. In fact, it is in no significant way even related to the institutions of the European Union. The ‘Council of Europe’ should not be confused with such EU institutions as the ‘Council of the European Union‘ and the ‘European Council‘.

It is easy to confuse the Council of Europe with institutions of the European Union because both the EU and the CoE have the same flag, as well as the same anthem that uses Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody. To further add to the confusion, the CoE is located in Strasbourg, France, which is also one of the official seats of the European Parliament, an EU institution.

Council of the European Union

The ‘Council of the European Union’ is one of the three main institutions of the European Union along with the European Commission and the European Parliament. It is often called the ‘Council of Ministers’ or just the ‘Council’. The Council meets in 10 different configurations of 27 national ministers responsible for the particular policy under consideration.

The Council of the European Union negotiates and adopts EU laws, together with the European Parliament, based on proposals from the European Commission. It also coordinates EU countries’ policies, concludes agreements between the EU and other countries or international organisations, and adopts the annual EU budget jointly with the European Parliament.

The ‘Council of the European Union’ is often confused with the ‘European Council‘ (EUCO), the latter being composed of heads of government (prime ministers) of EU Member States and defining the general political directions and priorities of the European Union. Wikipedia article about the ‘Council of the European Union’.

Court of Auditors

The European Court of Auditors (‘Cour des comptes européenne’ in French) is one of the main institutions of the European Union. It was established in 1975 and is located in Luxembourg. It carries out independent auditing of all European Institutions, in contrast to the Internal Audit Service of the European Commission whose work is directed by the Commission itself.

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is ‘the EU court’ and one of the main EU institutions that ensures the observance and uniform application and interpretation of EU law within EU member states and institutions. Its headquarters are in Luxembourg.


Daily subsistence allowance

The ‘Daily subsistence allowance’ is one of the benefits paid to new staff members of EU institutions if they have had to relocate within their own country or to a different EU Member State. The Daily subsistence allowance or DSA is higher and is paid for a longer period if the staff member is married/in a registered partnership or has dependent children. Article on the Daily subsistence allowance.

DG (Directorate General)

The European Commission ‘Directorates-General’ or DGs are like ministries in EU Member States. Each broad sphere of European Commission competence has its own Directorate-General. Most DGs are headed by a Director General, who in turn reports to a European Commissioner. There are around 33 Directorates-General. Their number tends to change every five years with each new European Commission College (assembly of European Commissioners). Full list of Directorates-General.


The Staff Regulations (Article 1c) define ‘disability’ as a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder an employee’s full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. EU institutions are a welcoming work environment for persons with disabilities as EU law empowers them to make a broad set of ‘reasonable accommodations‘ to involve this social group in the labor market and benefit from the expertise of persons with various physical or other handicaps. Article on Disability and employment in EU institutions.


Education allowance

The ‘Education allowance’ is one of the benefits paid to employees of EU institutions if their children do not attend a European School.

Parents of children younger than 5 years or older than 5 years but not yet in a primary school receive a Pre-school allowance EUR 102,18 per month. Parents of children older than 5 years and in regular full-time attendance at fee-charging a) primary school b) secondary school, c) university or a similar educational institution, are entitled to a single Education allowance of EUR 283,82, which is doubled in some circumstances to EUR 567,64. The Education Allowance is adjusted according to the Correction Coefficient.

Article on the Education Allowance.

EEAS (European External Action Service)

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the European Union’s diplomatic service, similar to ministries of foreign affairs in EU Member States. The EEAS is not part of the European Commission, and is an autonomous body like the EU agencies, but with a higher status. Vacancies at the EEAS.

EU Delegations

A ‘Commission Delegation’ is a European Union institutions embassy in a non-EU country. There are around 140 EU Delegations around the world. A similar institution in an EU Member State is called a ‘European Commission Representation‘. List of all EU Delegations.


A Twitter hashtag used by EPSO that lists all general profile vacancies in EU institutions and runs a large part of the competitions (also known as ‘concours’) . If you are a Twitter user, it’s worth following #EUcareers for up-to-date information of job opportunities at the European Commission, EU agencies and elsewhere.


‘Europass’ is the common EU CV or curriculum vitae format, managed by the European Commission. If you apply for jobs in EU institutions, chances are you might be requested to present you CV in the Europass format, so it pays to have the file ready and regularly updated. On the Europass portal you can store a master version of your CV that you can update and download for each new job application. Europass portal.

European Commission

The ‘European Commission’ (‘Commission Européenne’ in French) is the executive arm among the main EU institutions, often likened to an EU “superministry”. It consists of over 30 “ministries” called ‘Directorates-General‘ and is headed by the ‘College of Commissioners’ each coming from an EU Member State, but expected to act impartially and only in the interests of the institution.

The European Commission has around 32000 employees and is the largest employer among EU institutions. It is relatively hard to get employed by the European Commission as most hiring is done through competitions run by EPSO.

Article about the European Commission.

European Council

The ‘European Council’ (EUCO) is an institution of the European Union, that is composed of the heads of government (prime ministers) of EU member states, the President of the European Council, and the President of the European Commission. The European Council defines the general political directions and priorities of the European Union. The European Council does not adopt laws except for possible amendments to EU treaties. The European Council is a separate institution from the Council of the European Union, the latter being composed of ministers of the EU Member States.

The ‘European Council’ should not be confused with the ‘Council of Europe‘ (CoE), which is an international organization seated in Strasbourg, France, and not affiliated with institutions of the European Union.

Wikipedia article about the ‘European Council’.

EDA (European Defence Agency)

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is an agency of the European Union that promotes and facilitates integration between member states within the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The EDA was established on 12 July 2004 and is located in Brussels, Belgium.

EIGE (European Institute for Gender Equality)

The European Institute for Gender Equality is an agency of the European Union that was established to contribute to and strengthen the promotion of gender equality, including gender mainstreaming, in all EU policies and the resulting national policies, and the fight against discrimination based on sex, as well as to raise EU citizens’ awareness of gender equality. It was legally established in 2007, but started its operation in 2010. EIGE is located in Vilnius, Lithuania.

European Parliament

The ‘European Parliament’ is the legislative arm among EU institutions and the second largest employer of EU staff, following the European Commission. In 2021 the European Parliament employed 7944 staff members.

The European Parliament has offices in Brussels, Belgium, Strasbourg, France, and smaller administrative offices in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. If you are employed by the European Parliament, you can expect the regularly commute between Brussels and Strasbourg as plenary sessions alter between both locations, while the various committees primarily meet in Brussels.

European Parliament Positive Action Programme

The European Parliament Positive Action Programme is a special support action to social groups underrepresented among the institution’s staff – women, persons with disabilities, persons from ethnic and linguistic minorities. Succesful candidates are hired for a year as ‘contract agent’ and the programme can serve as a springboard to longer-term and even permanent employment. Read here about the 2023 EP Positive Action Programme.


EPSO is an abbreviation for the ‘European Personnel Selection Office’. EPSO is an entity of the European Commission responsible for recruitment of candidates for jobs in a number of EU institutions. EPSO’s recruitment procedures are also known as ‘EU Concours’.

On average EPSO processes around 46,000 applications a year for approximately 1,300 vacancies in the EU institutions. Most persons who successfully pass EPSO selection processes do not get jobs in EU institutions but are placed on the so-called ‘reserve lists’ and remain there until validity of lists expires.

EPSO manages hiring procedures for the following EU institutions:

The EU agencies may and often do run their own selection procedures, but can also draw from successful candidates placed on EPSO’s ‘reserve lists’.

European School

One of the benefits for staff of EU institutions is the opportunity to send their children to a European School (Schola Europaea). Most geographic locations where there are large EU institutions have a European School. In locations where a European School is not available, employees of EU institutions receive double Education allowance to cover tuition in private schools. All European Schools prioritize enrollment of children of EU institutions staff.

The European Schools are not part of the “EU system” of institutions, however, they are jointly controlled by the European Commission and the EU member states. Ther daily affairs are managed by the Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools.

List of locations with an Accredited European School | Article on the Education allowance

European Union agencies

The ‘agencies’ are specialized EU institutions that address a well-defined issue in a particular legal or policy field, but they are not “policy makers” as this function exclusively rests with the European Commission.

There are several typologies of EU agencies. 1) “Up-stream” and “downstream” agencies. The first deal with research and other knowledge production activities. The latter – with implementation of EU legislation and policies that are set by the EU Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission. 2) Agencies are also categorized based on their legal status in EU law: decentralized agencies; executive agencies (also known as “sunset agencies” as they are disbanded after a particular aim is achieved); Euratom agencies (dealing with nuclear energy-related issues); independent bodies.

The term ‘decentralised bodies’ of the European Union means that EU agencies have to follow most administrative rules applicable to EU institutions, however, they are not directly supervised by the European Commission but by Management Boards where EU Member States representatives have a majority. As of 2022 there are over 40 EU agencies.

Links to vacancy pages of all EU agencies | Official list of all EU agencies and similar bodies


Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union, in charge of the European Statistical System. It is both a data-collecting institution, but also a statistics standard-setting and harmonization body for EU Member States, European Free Trade Area countries, and EU candidate countries.

Contrary to popular perception, Eurostat is not a separate EU institution, but a Directorate-General of the European Commission. It is located in the Kirchberg Quarter of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

Évaluation de la capacité à travailler dans une troisième langue

‘Évaluation de la capacité à travailler dans une troisième langue’ or ‘Ability to work in a third EU language‘ is the requirement for EU staff to successfully pass a test in a third EU language at CEFR B2 level before their first promotion or award of an indefinite employment contract, as set down in the Staff Regulations for most categories of employees of EU institutions. Knowledge of at least two EU languages is a precondition when becoming initially hired by an EU institution. Article about the third EU language requirement and the related test.

Expatriation allowance

The European Commission ‘Expatriation allowance’ is one of allowances paid to employees of EU institutions if they had to relocate to the seat of their EU institution from another EU Member State and satisfy some other conditions. Article about the Expatriation allowance.



All grades in which Contract Agents at the European Commission and other EU institutions are placed. FGI is the lower grade for Contract agents while FGIV is the highest grade. Grades FGI and FGII have the lowest professional requirements and are usually reserved for menial and basic administrative tasks. Grades FGIII and FGIV are reserved for higher level support and operational tasks.

Article about salaries of the Contract agents FGI-FGIV.


‘Fonctionnaire’ is the French term for an ‘official’ or ‘permanent official’ in the grades of Administrators and Assistants at EU institutions.

Foreign residence allowance

The European Commission ‘Foreign residence allowance’ is one of allowances paid to employees of EU institutions if they had to relocate to the seat of their EU institution from another EU Member State and satisfy some other conditions. It is paid to “expats” who do not qualify for the ‘Expatriation allowance‘. Article about the Foreign residence allowance.


‘Frontex’ is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, a decentralized body of the European Union. Frontex is located in Warsaw, Poland. From an obscure agency established in 2004, currently Frontex is growing rapidly and is on its way to become the largest EU agency by 2027 both in terms of staff numbers and budget. Frontex together with EU Member States forms the ‘European Border and Coast Guard’.

Frontex hires both regular “EU civil servants” and European border and coast guards. Article about how to become an EU border guard | Frontex vacancies portal

Function group

The term ‘Function group’ refers to one of the four categories in which ‘contract agents‘ are recruited in EU institutions, namely, FGI, FGII, FGIII, and FGIV.



The term ‘Grade’ refers to the European Commission salary scales row in which an employee is placed based on her/his previous work experience and other criteria. The higher the grade, the larger the basic pay of a staff member. Article about salaries of employees of EU institutions.


Household allowance

The European Commission ‘Household allowance’ is one of the allowances paid to some staff members of EU institutions. A staff member qualifies for the ‘Household allowance’ if she/he has had to relocate and is in a recognized partnership or/and has dependents. Article about the Household allowance.


Income tax

Employees of EU institutions pay a number of taxes and levies. One of these is the income tax that deducts between 8% and 45% from the basic salary. The majority of EU institutions employees pay the lowest amount of tax at 8% as their annual salaries are below ~60000 euros.

Installation allowance

An ‘Installation allowance’ is a one-time payment paid to new employees of EU institutions that have had to change their place of residence. If the official is entitled to the household allowance (has a spouse or/and dependents), he/she will receive two months’ basic salaries. In all other cases the Installation allowance is equal to one basic salary.

Interim staff (Intérimaire)

‘Interim staff’, interims or ‘Intérimaire’ in French are short-term staff used by the European Commission, EU agencies and other EU institutions in periods of increased workloads or hiring gaps. Interim staff are not employees or staff members of EU institutions, but hires sent by third-party companies for work for EU institutions. “Intérimaires” have their employment contracts with these third-party companies but receive their tasks from staff members of EU institutions.

Contracts duration of ‘interim staff’ is usually up to 6 months but may also be for a longer period. While interim staff should nominally do secretarial and other support roles, they in practice often find themselves with FGIII, FGIV, and even AD5 tasks.

The use of ‘interims’ or temporary workers by EU institutions is sometimes criticized as unfairly using underpaid employees for fulfilling regular tasks of these institutions. On the positive side, serving as an interim gives the particular person significant advantages in councours for vacancies at that institution. It is common for interims to progress to contract agent status if their performance was good as temporary workers.

Read more about interim staff in EU institutions.


Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS)

JSIS or the ‘Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme’ is the European Commission’s primary health insurance scheme for employees of EU institutions and secondary health insurance scheme for their family members and dependents. JSIS reimburses 80-85 percent of most healthcare services costs, even medicines. In case of serious health conditions, 100% of expenses are reimbursed by JSIS. Article about the JSIS.


Medical examination

The ‘European Commission medical examination’ is a mandatory procedure for all new staff of EU institutions. New staff members have to undergo it before they can start working for an EU institution. The medical examination has two main aims: to establish that a candidate is “physically fit to perform his duties” as per the Staff Regulations, and to establish a baselines against which to measure any occupational diseases. Article about the European Commission medical examination.


‘Mission’ is term used for business trips of EU institutions’ staff. While on mission, staff of EU institutions are entitled to a special mission-related daily subsistence allowance.


No-cost SNE

A ‘no-cost SNE‘ refers to a seconded national expert at the European Commission, an EU agency or other EU institution where the receiving institution does not have to pay any of the expenses associated with “regular” SNEs like the Daily or Monthly Subsistence Allowances. However, if no-cost SNEs go on missions on behalf of the contracting institution, they will receive the same mission allowances and support as other staff of the institution.

Article about Seconded National Experts and SNE allowances in EU institutions.


Official EU languages

According to Article 55 of the Treaty of the European Union, the following are the official European Union languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish. English continues to be counted as an official EU language despite Brexit. This is because English has been enshrined in EU legal documents as one of the official and working languages of the EU institutions, and because it is also one of the official languages of Ireland and Malta. Article about third EU language requirement for staff of EU institutions.


Pensions of the officials and other servants of the European Union

Officials and other staff of the European Commission and other EU institutions are entitled to an EU pension after at least 10 years of service during their working life. The minimum of 10 years of service can be accumulated over several working periods at EU institutions. If a person works for EU institutions less than 10 years, he/she can transfer the accumulated pension capital to private pension fund. Article about pensions of the officials and other servants of the European Union.

Permanent official

EU official on an indefinite contract in grades of Administrator, Assistant, and Secretaries and clerks. Indefinite contracts can be attained in a number of ways: (a) through an EPSO competition for AD grades (Administrators), AST grades (Assistants), and AST/SC (Secretaries and clerks) positions, (b) after two contract prolongations that entitle an EU employee to an indefinite contract.

Place of employment

The term ‘place of employment’ means the location where an employee of an EU institution is expected to perform his duties according to the employment contract. According to article 20 of the Staff Regulations, an official is expected to live in a location that is compatible with the “proper performance of his duties”. some EU institutions define this as the ability to arrive in the headquarters premises within two hours of being notified about a service need.

Place of origin

The term ‘place of origin’ means the declared location from which an employee of an EU institution formally is relocating to her/his ‘place of employment‘. The ‘place of origin’ is used for calculating an official’s entitlement to the annual travel grant (amount depends on the distance between the declared ‘place of origin’ and ‘place of employment’) as well as a number of other allowances.


PMO or the Paymaster Office is the European Commission’s Department for Administration and Payment of Individual Entitlements. PMO is responsible for calculation and record keeping of the financial entitlements of staff of the European Commission and most other EU institutions. PMO on the European Commission website.

Preschool allowance

Employees of EU institutions with children aged below 5 are paid the ‘pre-school allowance’, which is a type of the Education allowance. The nominal pre-school allowance amounts is EUR 102,18 per month, subject to the Correction coefficient. Article on the Pre-school and Education allowances.


Reasonable accommodation

The term ‘reasonable accommodation’ refers to any measure to accommodate a disabled person during the selection process or the actual job at an EU institution. It entails any adaptive measure that is considered as not being a disproportionate burden on the employer. The interpretation of ‘reasonable accommodation’ in EU institutions is quite broad and can entail measures from accessible premises to working time and beyond. To find out more, read the article on employment of persons with disabilities in EU institutions.

Removal expenses

The compensation of ‘Removal expenses’ is a benefit for staff of EU institutions who had to relocate at the start and/or end of employment at an EU institution. The ‘removal expenses’ amount includes the costs of moving furniture and personal effects, but also insurance against ordinary risks, such as damage during transportation, theft, and fire,

Representation allowance

The European Commission President (currently – Ursula von der Leyen) is entitled to a representation allowance of 1418 EUR per month. This allowance is 911 EUR for the Vice Presidents and 608 EUR for regular Commissioners. Interestingly, at least until 2004 this was called the “Entertainment allowance” but has subsequently been renamed to be more socially acceptable.

Reserve list

‘Reserve lists’ are pools of applicants that have sucessfully gone through the selection process of EPSO or an EU agency and are now “shortlisted” as potential employees. When the EU institution that organized the selection process has an actual vacancy to fill, a job offer is being sent out to the most appropriate person on the reserve list. Read more about ‘reserve lists‘.


‘Salary grid’ and ‘Salary scales’

The ‘Salary grid’ and ‘Salary scales’ refers to the tables of ‘basic salary’ of Administrators, Assistants, Secretaries and clerks, and contract agents in EU institutions as mentioned in Articles 66 and 93 of the Staff Regulations. For an overview of the EU salary scales see this article about remuneration in the European Commission and other EU institutions.


‘SNEs’ stands for Seconded National Experts (known as ENDs in French). These are civil servants of EU Member States that are “lent” for a time period – usually between 1 and 4 years – to an EU institution. The SNEs usually retain their position at the Member State institution and often are also paid their original salary, which is complemented by a special EU allowance during their contract duration at an EU institution.

SNEs are employed by EU institutions mainly to satisfy the organization’s needs where staff shortages do not allow assigning an official or a contract agent. SNEs are also employed in case of need of a specific Member State or professional expertise. The Member States also benefit from sending their staff as SNEs to EU institutions, as they attain valuable experience and expertise that can later be used by the national government, particularly, during the European Union Presidencies.

Article about SNE salaries including a calculator.

Secretaries and clerks

EU officials in the grades AST/SC 1-6. Staff in these grades typically perform various office-related duties.

Solidarity levy

The ‘Solidarity levy’ is a temporary deduction imposed on salaries of all staff of EU institutions. It is applied from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2023. According to Article 66a of the Staff Regulations, it is 7 % for officials in grade AD 15, step 2, and above, and 6% for all other staff.

Staff Regulations

The term ‘Staff Regulations’ refers to the Regulation No 31 (EEC), 11 (EAEC), laying down the Staff Regulations of Officials and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. As can be deduced from the Regulation’s title, it is the main legal act regulating the employment conditions of Administrators, Assistants, Secretaries and clerks, and Contract agents in the European Commission and all other EU institutions.


The term ‘Step’ refers to incremental salary increases in each ‘Grade’/row in European Commission salary scales. For example, if a person is placed in grade AD5, in normal circumstances he/she advances one step every two years, bringing along a 150-200EUR salary increase. Article about salaries of employees of EU institutions.


Temporary agent

A ‘temporary agent’ in the European Commission or another EU institution refers to staff employed in the ‘administrators‘, ‘assistants‘, and the ‘secretaries and clerks‘ groups who are hired for a set period of time and, hence, are usually not entitled to become permanent officials with indefinite employment contracts. In a sense, ‘temporary agents’ are similar to ‘contract agents‘ who also have time-bound contracts in the European Commission, but better paid and with higher level of responsibility.

Temporary agent positions are usually created to satisfy the following service needs in EU institutions:

  • To hire staff for Commissioners’ private offices for the duration of employment of the particular Commissioner;
  • To perform highly specialised jobs of temporary nature, particularly in advanced technical or scientific positions;
  • To make up for staff shortages in cases where competition reserve lists have been exhausted.

Here’s a sample European Commission vacancy announcement for a temporary agent in the communications field.


A trainee is an intern that undergoes short term on-the-job training at an EU institution. All EU institutions offer paid traineeships to students and young professionals. These are usually 5-6 months long with a possibility of extension.

See also ‘Blue book trainee‘.

Travel costs on taking up duties

Employees of EU institutions receive a compensation for the transportation costs they incur when travelling to their place of employment to take up duties. These can be plane, train/bus, or petrol costs according to the individual situation of the staff member.


Unemployment allowance

In certain situations employees of EU institutions are entitled to the European Commission Unemployment allowance, which is paid out by the PMO. You can qualify for the EC Unemployment allowance if you have a) worked for the EU for more than 6 months, b) not resigned yourself, c) not been dismissed for disciplinary reasons. The allowance is paid for a maximum of three years in the following amounts: (a) 60 % of the basic salary for the first 12 months, (b) 45 % of the basic salary for the 13th to the 24th month, (c) 30 % of the basic salary for the 25th to the 36th month. You will continue to receive all previous allowances during the Unemployment leave. Article on the European Commission Unemployment allowance.

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2 responses to “Glossary”

  1. Jamie avatar

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your advices all this valuable information.
    Please, can you explain your experience about probation period?
    Is this probation period like any other company? what are the KPI’s or the performance expected to successfully pass this probation period?
    Are there some kind of formal document explaining this matter?

    Many thanks.

    1. Ben avatar

      Hi! The probation period doesn’t differ in any way from a the private sector or other government institutions.
      It’s quite hard to fail during the probation period and the procedure to dismiss and employee of an EU institution is more complicated than in the private sector.
      If I remember correctly, during the probation period the employee doesn’t even have the annual performance indicators. These are set only after the probation period ends.

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