Media often portray the EU institutions as if everyone working in them is drowning in money. Indeed the top EU jobs are indeed lucrative hovering around the 25 000 EUR mark per month with extra perks. However, for the majority of EU employees their salaries and other benefits are significantly lower and depend on the type of contract you have and multiple other factors, e.g., employment duration and seniority of the post. Of course, they are by no means low compared to most EU countries’ average pay levels and come with additional allowances and other benefits.
This article provides an overview of what a future temporary agent or a contract agent (‘fonctionnaire’ in French) of EU institutions is entitled to – the base salary, allowances, health insurance, pension rights et cetera. Please bear in mind that the article only covers employees of the European Commission and EU agencies, and does not cover the European Parliament and the EU Council (salaries and benefits are similar, but details might vary). The article also doesn’t cover such employed groups as interims and Seconded National Experts or SNEs, nor trainees.
You might also want to read this article: How to get a job in an EU agency?
All of this information is available in public sources, however it is often worded in ‘legalese’, cross-referenced over multiple documents and hard to comprehend to those not initiated in EU bureaucratic matters. Hence, this guide. I for sure would have appreciated something like this resource before embarking on my career in EU institutions.
How much will you make in EU institutions jobs?
For people who are contemplating an EU job and even fresh recruits it is often hard to understand what the final salary will look like. The amount one gets in the bank account will depend at least four other factors besides the base salary:
- Type of contract: temporary/permanent official, assistant, secretary/clerk, contract agent, seconded national expert and some more exotic and rare jobs as special adviser.
- Your grade and step.
- Relevant allowances and other payments.
- EU social security contributions and other deductions.
- Adjusting it all by the relevant correction coefficient.
When thinking about an EU job, the salary and allowances should not be the only things to factor in when making your decision to apply and work for an EU institution. There are a number of other benefits that make an EU job quite attractive in the long run, especially if people are thinking about their pensions or health care.
The salaries of EU employees are strictly regulated and there are clear brackets for each category and sub-category of employees. Below is an overview of the so-called salary scales for each of the main four groups of EU institutions employees:
- Administrators (AD 5 to AD 16)
- Assistants (AST 1 to AST 11)
- Secretaries and clerks (AST/SC 1 to AST/SC 6)
- Contract Agents (functionaries, FG I to FG IV)
The basic salaries are annually adjusted to inflation and purchasing power in each EU country to ensure that there is parity with the general labour market. Additionally, salaries for staff employed by EU institutions outside of Belgium are further adjusted to something called the Correction Coefficient (read more below) to reflect cost of living in the particular country.
Salaries of administrators (AD) and assistants (AST)
Officials (temporary agents and permanent staff) of the European Commission is the EU staff category that comes to most people’s minds when thinking about EU jobs. These are the people in most senior positions and are most paid employees of EU institutions (except the political appointments like the EU Commissioners and their team members). Here’s an overview of what this staff category makes per month. Values in the table may vary slightly from year to year, but they will give you a rather good idea of the income level.
Salary grid (basic salary in EUR) for temporary officials (administrators AD5-16 and assistants AST 1-11)
|Grade||Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4||Step 5|
|AD 16||19 127,29||19 931,05||20 768,57||20 768,57||20 768,57|
|AD 15||16 905,33||17 615,72||18 355,95||18 866,64||19 127,29|
|AD14||14 941,46||15 569,34||16 223,58||16 674,95||16 905,33|
|AD13||13 205,78||13 760,70||14 338,93||14 737,88||14 941,46|
|AD12||11 671,70||12 162,15||12 673,23||13 025,81||13 205,78|
|AD11/AST 11||10 315,83||10 749,30||11 201,00||11 512,64||11 671,70|
|AD10/AST 10||9 117,48||9 500,59||9 899,84||10 175,25||10 315,83|
|AD9/AST 9||8 058,32||8 396,94||8 749,80||8 993,22||9 117,48|
|AD8/AST 8||7 122,21||7 421,49||7 733,35||7 948,51||8 058,32|
|AD7/AST 7||6 294,84||6 559,36||6 834,99||7 025,15||7 122,21|
|AD6/AST 6||5 563,58||5 797,38||6 040,98||6 209,06||6 294,84|
|AD5/AST 5||4 917,29||5 123,92||5 339,22||5 487,78||5 563,58|
|AST4||4 346,06||4 528,68||4 718,98||4 850,27||4 917,29|
|AST3||3 841,17||4 002,60||4 170,80||4 286,82||4 346,06|
|AST2||3 394,97||3 537,62||3 686,28||3 788,84||3 841,17|
|AST 1||3 000,59||3 126,66||3 258,05||3 348,71||3 394,97|
Required periods of previous work experience for administrators and assistants
Length of previous working period has a significant on employment in EU institutions. You may not start working in a particular grade if you do not yet have the necessary number of years worked.
For administrators grades AD5, AD6, AD7, AD8 are considered as ‘entry grades’. You have to have the following number of years of professional experience to qualify for a particular grade:
- AD5 requires 0 years of previous professional experience.
- AD6 requires 3 years of previous professional experience.
- AD7 requires 6 years of previous professional experience.
- AD8 requires 9 years of previous professional experience.
- AD9 and AD10 requires 12 years of previous professional experience.
- AD11 and AD12 requires 15 years of previous professional experience.
For assistants grades AST1, AST2, AST3, and AST4 are considered ‘entry grades’. Each assistants’ grade requires the following work experience length:
- AST1 requires 0 years of previous professional experience.
- AST2 requires 3 years of previous professional experience.
- AST3 requires 6 years of previous professional experience.
- AST4 requires 9 years of previous professional experience.
It is Ok to be an ‘Assistant’!
You shouldn’t shy away from AST or Assistant’s positions. Unless you are a secretary, these usully are not ‘assistants’ to other EU officials. Rather, the title of AST or ‘assistant’ is reserved for jobs of a more technical nature such as linguists, building managements, or ICT specialists. You might oversee a large group of laywer-linguists or be a senior IT architecture specialist and still be called an “assistant” with a salary of 8000+ euros per month.
Salaries of secretaries and clerks (AST/SC)
As you can already guess, people employed in this role fulfil various secretarial and clerical duties. Professionals in the top grades would already be in managerial roles, overseeing the work of others and be engaged in more strategic planning and problem solving.
|Grade||Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4||Step 5|
|AST/SC 6||4 878,26||5 083,26||5 296,86||5 444,21||5 519,44|
|AST/SC 5||4 311,57||4 492,75||4 682,20||4 811,78||4 878,26|
|AST/SC 4||3 810,72||3 970,83||4 137,70||4 252,82||4 311,57|
|AST/SC 3||3 368,02||3 509,55||3 657,05||3 758,77||3 810,72|
|AST/SC 2||2 976,76||3 101,86||3 232,22||3 322,13||3 368,02|
|AST/SC 1||2 630,97||2 741,53||2 856,74||2 936,19||2 976,76|
For secretaries and clerks grades SC1 and SC2 are considered ‘entry grades’. Each AST/SC entry grade requires the following work experience length:
- AST/SC1 requires 0 years of previous professional experience.
- AST/SC2 requires 4 years of previous professional experience.
Salary of contract agents in function groups FGI, FGII, FGIII, FGIV
Salaries of contract agents (in French – “fonctionnaires”) mostly depend on which function group and grade they are in. You as a candidate can not influence the function group as that is decided when the post is advertised, however your length of work experience affects your grade (hence – pay). The longer you have worked, the higher the grade.
A general overview of contract agents’ ‘basic pay’:
- Function Group IV (grade 13-18): 3555,98 – 7460,34 EUR
- Function Group III (grade 8-12): 2777,78 – 5150,51 EUR
- Function Group II (grade 4-7): 2169,66 – 3555,98 EUR
- Function Group I (grade 1-3): 2088,92 – 3023,45 EUR
The below table contains much more information on contract agents’ pay. In addition to what explained above, you’ll notice ‘steps’ in the table. Most institutions move their contract agents after two years of work. This can happen faster if you perform well and “reclassified”. This can move you faster up the salary scale and you can jump not only steps, but also grades.
|Function group||Grade||Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4||Step 5||Step 6||Step 7|
|FG IV||18||6 593,66||6 730,78||6 870,74||7 013,62||7 159,49||7 308,37||7 460,34|
|17||5 827,65||5 948,83||6 072,54||6 198,83||6 327,74||6 459,32||6 593,66|
|16||5 150,62||5 257,72||5 367,07||5 478,68||5 592,63||5 708,93||5 827,65|
|15||4 552,24||4 646,91||4 743,55||4 842,20||4 942,90||5 045,68||5 150,62|
|14||4 023,40||4 107,07||4 192,48||4 279,67||4 368,69||4 459,50||4 552,24|
|13||3 555,98||3 629,93||3 705,41||3 782,48||3 861,13||3 941,43||4 023,40|
|FG III||12||4 552,18||4 646,84||4 743,48||4 842,11||4 942,80||5 045,58||5 150,51|
|11||4 023,37||4 107,02||4 192,42||4 279,60||4 368,60||4 459,44||4 552,18|
|10||3 555,97||3 629,91||3 705,39||3 782,45||3 861,10||3 941,40||4 023,37|
|9||3 142,88||3 208,23||3 274,95||3 343,06||3 412,58||3 483,53||3 555,97|
|8||2 777,78||2 835,54||2 894,51||2 954,69||3 016,15||3 078,86||3 142,88|
|FG II||7||3 142,81||3 208,18||3 274,90||3 343,00||3 412,56||3 483,53||3 555,98|
|6||2 777,65||2 835,41||2 894,39||2 954,59||3 016,04||3 078,77||3 142,81|
|5||2 454,90||2 505,95||2 558,08||2 611,30||2 665,59||2 721,04||2 777,65|
|4||2 169,66||2 214,79||2 260,86||2 307,89||2 355,88||2 404,89||2 454,90|
|FG I||3||2 672,85||2 728,32||2 784,96||2 842,75||2 901,74||2 961,96||3 023,45|
|2||2 362,91||2 411,95||2 462,01||2 513,11||2 565,27||2 618,52||2 672,85|
|1||2 088,92||2 132,29||2 176,53||2 221,70||2 267,81||2 314,88||2 362,91|
Required periods of previous work experience for contract agents FGI-IV
Each contract agent’s grade requires the following work experience length:
- FGIV grade 13 requires between 0 and 5 years of previous professional experience.
- FGIV grade 14 requires between 5 and 17 years of previous professional experience.
- FGIV grade 16 requires over 17 years of previous professional experience.
- FGIII grade 13 requires between 0 and 5 years of previous professional experience.
- FGIII grade 14 requires between 5 and 15 years of previous professional experience.
- FGIII grade 16 requires over 15 years of previous professional experience.
Allowances and other benefits for employees of the European Commission and other EU institutions
Several allowances and other benefits can boost your income by as much as 100% depending whether you are an expat and have a spouse and children. When considering a job at an EU institution, people too seldom take these benefits into account. The European Commission and other EU institutions do a poor job of communicating these benefits to possible employees. Important – these benefits are available to both temporary agents (AD 5-16 and AST 1-11) and contract agents (FG I to FG IV).
- Travel costs on taking up duties
- Daily subsistence allowance (during probation period)
- Installation allowance and coverage of removal costs (one-time payments)
- Expatriation allowance or Foreign Residence allowance
- Household allowance
- Dependent child allowance
- European School enrollment for children or Education allowance if there is no local EU school
- Healthcare costs reimbursement to a level of 80-85% through the EU’s Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS) for the employee and any direct family members and dependents. 100% reimbursement of costs in case of a serious illness
- Accident insurance
- Annual travel compensation. If your institution is in Brussels, for a 4-person family from Rome this will amount to EUR 2781. For a single person the amount will be EUR 677.
- Birth grant
- Parental leave
- Unemployment allowance
- Removal expenses when leaving your home country and again when leaving your EU institution
- EU pension, survivors and orphan’s pensions, invalidity allowance
- Lump sum payments in case of permanent invalidity or death
- Lump sum funeral expenses, around EUR 2350
How much tax do EU officials pay?
The salaries of employees of EU institutions are are exempt from national tax. This means that you really do not have to pay any tax from your salary in your country of origin. Even if you have to or want to file an income/tax declaration with the national institutions, there is usually a separate form for EU employees that’s tailored to the special tax regime.
Social security contributions (% of basic salary)
The following social security related deductions are made from your salary:
- Pension contributions 9,7% of the basic salary
- Health insurance 1,70% of the basic salary
- Accident insurance 0,10% of the basic salary
- Unemployment insurance 0,81% of the basic salary
The EU also collects a special solidarity levy of 6% which is deducted directly from the salary. The rate is 7% for officials in grade AD15, step 2, and above, but this applies to probably a few hundred persons in the whole of EU institutions. This levy is applied from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2023.
EU employees are also paying an EU Income Tax of 8% to 45% applied progressively depending on the size of your salary. The more you earn, the larger the EU Income Tax. The EU income tax remains at 8% for annual salaries below approximately 60000 euros.
The Correction Coefficient
One of the main factors that impacts your take-home pay in an EU job is the ‘correction coefficient’. The EU annually tracks how expensive it is to live in any particular country and assigns a coefficient with Brussels being 100%. If you end up working or an EU institution located in the East or South of the EU, be ready for a substantially lower take-home pay compared to your Brussels colleagues.
Read more about the correction coefficient.
This article is based on the European Commission Staff Regulations and other publicly available information such as EU institutions’ vacancy announcements. As the EU legal documents and even information on the various websites are hard to understand, this post is one from a series of articles that try to make information about employment in the European Commission and other EU institutions more accessible.
Do you have any questions or suggestions for this article? Please comment below and let’s make this resource better for other readers!
VISUALS FROM THIS POST
European Commission salary grid for temporary agents – administrators AD5-16 and assistants AST 1-11
European Commission salary grid contract agents in function groups FGI, FGII, FGIII, FGIV
European Commission salary grid – secretaries and clerks SC 1 – SC 6
Image: Berlaymont building, the European Commission headquarters | (c) Fred Romero, CC BY 2.0, Flickr