How much do EU officials earn?

Berlaymont building European Commission headquarters
Berlaymont building European Commission headquarters

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: 

  1. Type of contract: temporary/permanent official, assistant, secretary/clerk, contract agent, seconded national expert and some more exotic and rare jobs as special adviser. 
  2. Your grade and step.
  3. Relevant allowances and other payments.
  4. EU social security contributions and other deductions.
  5. 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.

Basic salary

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)

GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5
AD 1619 127,2919 931,0520 768,5720 768,5720 768,57
AD 1516 905,3317 615,7218 355,9518 866,6419 127,29
AD1414 941,4615 569,3416 223,5816 674,9516 905,33
AD1313 205,7813 760,7014 338,9314 737,8814 941,46
AD1211 671,7012 162,1512 673,2313 025,8113 205,78
AD11/AST 1110 315,8310 749,3011 201,0011 512,6411 671,70
AD10/AST 109 117,489 500,599 899,8410 175,2510 315,83
AD9/AST 98 058,328 396,948 749,808 993,229 117,48
AD8/AST 87 122,217 421,497 733,357 948,518 058,32
AD7/AST 76 294,846 559,366 834,997 025,157 122,21
AD6/AST 65 563,585 797,386 040,986 209,066 294,84
AD5/AST 54 917,295 123,925 339,225 487,785 563,58
AST44 346,064 528,684 718,984 850,274 917,29
AST33 841,174 002,604 170,804 286,824 346,06
AST23 394,973 537,623 686,283 788,843 841,17
AST 13 000,593 126,663 258,053 348,713 394,97
European Commission basic salary grid for temporary agents – Administrators AD5-16 and Assistants AST 1-11

Detailed overview of temporary agents salaries and other benefits:
* Administrators AD 5
* Administrators AD 7

* Assistants AST 4

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. 

GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5
AST/SC 64 878,265 083,265 296,865 444,215 519,44
AST/SC 54 311,574 492,754 682,204 811,784 878,26
AST/SC 43 810,723 970,834 137,704 252,824 311,57
AST/SC 33 368,023 509,553 657,053 758,773 810,72
AST/SC 22 976,763 101,863 232,223 322,133 368,02
AST/SC 12 630,972 741,532 856,742 936,192 976,76
European Commission basic salary grid – AST/SC secretaries and clerks

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 groupGradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7
FG IV186 593,666 730,786 870,747 013,627 159,497 308,377 460,34
 175 827,655 948,836 072,546 198,836 327,746 459,326 593,66
 165 150,625 257,725 367,075 478,685 592,635 708,935 827,65
 154 552,244 646,914 743,554 842,204 942,905 045,685 150,62
 144 023,404 107,074 192,484 279,674 368,694 459,504 552,24
 133 555,983 629,933 705,413 782,483 861,133 941,434 023,40
FG III124 552,184 646,844 743,484 842,114 942,805 045,585 150,51
 114 023,374 107,024 192,424 279,604 368,604 459,444 552,18
 103 555,973 629,913 705,393 782,453 861,103 941,404 023,37
 93 142,883 208,233 274,953 343,063 412,583 483,533 555,97
 82 777,782 835,542 894,512 954,693 016,153 078,863 142,88
FG II73 142,813 208,183 274,903 343,003 412,563 483,533 555,98
 62 777,652 835,412 894,392 954,593 016,043 078,773 142,81
 52 454,902 505,952 558,082 611,302 665,592 721,042 777,65
 42 169,662 214,792 260,862 307,892 355,882 404,892 454,90
FG I32 672,852 728,322 784,962 842,752 901,742 961,963 023,45
 22 362,912 411,952 462,012 513,112 565,272 618,522 672,85
 12 088,922 132,292 176,532 221,702 267,812 314,882 362,91
European Commission basic salary grid contract agents in function groups FGI, FGII, FGIII, FGIV

Detailed overview of contract agents salaries:
* Contract Agents FG IV
* Contract Agents FG III

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.

Income tax

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

Table of the European Commission salary grid for temporary agents - administrators AD5-16 and assistants AST 1-11
European Commission basic 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

Table of the European Commission salary grid contract agents in function groups FGI, FGII, FGIII, FGIV
European Commission basic salary grid contract agents in function groups FGI, FGII, FGIII, FGIV

European Commission salary grid – secretaries and clerks SC 1 – SC 6

Table of the European Commission salary grid - secretaries and clerks SC 1 - SC 6
European Commission basic salary grid – secretaries and clerks SC 1 – SC 6

Image: Berlaymont building, the European Commission headquarters | (c) Fred Romero, CC BY 2.0, Flickr

By Ben

I'm working at my third EU institution. This website is my way of sharing know-how and expertise no matter if you just plan to get an EU job, already have one, or are planning to leave one. At all stages of your EU job "lifecycle" there are things which are important or nice to know to make the journey more comfortable. I really appreciate every comment that helps me improve the articles for other readers! Tips on new article topics welcome!

20 comments

  1. Great series of articles!
    Are you thinking about writing something related to the process of getting a job through 3rd party agencies: like cronos, experis etc?
    From one interview I had they ask upfront how much money you want and only after that, in case you fall in their bracket, they’ll make you an offer and, if you agree, they’ll forward your application to European Commission.
    Is this a bluff or are you really obliged to discuss salary before being interviewed by EC?

    Regards

    1. It’s the first time I hear about THIS particular type of service.
      There are plenty of consultants, trainers, etc., that offer to help to prepare for the various tests and interview types. But that an agency would almost manage selection on behalf of the EC… I’m would be very surprised if this were so.

      Could you maybe share some links so I can take a look and comment on a particular example?

      1. Hi Ben,
        I am not talking about agencies that train people to get jobs with EC. I am talking about IT consulting companies (intermediaries/brokers as I like to say) that hire specialists to work for projects within EC offices. These companies, as I went through the process, have 2 types of positions: one is for hiring these candidates under their own company but the actual work is performed for EC. Here you are a normal Belgian employee with the standard rights, but NOT an EC employee.

        The second type: you can opt for a freelance contract with a daily rate. Here you have far less rights and the collaboration can end anytime within 30 days. They insist for you to move to Belgium and pay taxes there.

        Indeed, the first step is to negotiate the salary even though they have no idea how competent you actually are. After that they send the CV to EC and you wait to see if they’ll set up an technical interview with you.

        To find these companies, open LinkedIn, click to search for jobs and enter “european commission” and filter for Brussels. Today there are 192 results, but not all are for EC.
        The positions are advertised like this:
        – “The European Commission is looking for a system administrator for a long term project in Brussels”, or
        – “For a long-term assignment with the European Commission we’re looking for a Business Intelligence Expert.”, or
        – “Within the International Institutions we have framework contracts with European Institutions like: European Commission; European Parliament; European Court of Auditors; Europol; NATO; Court of Justice; EPO; European Council, United Nations, etc.
        Role: User Assistance Developer – Drupal 8 – European Commission”

        Here are a couple of links:
        1. https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/2634685412/?eBP=JOB_SEARCH_ORGANIC&recommendedFlavor=SCHOOL_RECRUIT&refId=60iRJRw0Wk1CYXEC6MFGgA%3D%3D&trackingId=Z76gr0C4O5T95UxGH0cLMA%3D%3D&trk=flagship3_search_srp_jobs
        2. https://tinyurl.com/3bjcjutw (the link was too long)
        3. https://tinyurl.com/t4tp6xww

      2. Roger, I now get what you are talking about.

        SHORT ANSWER:
        Go for this, does look legit.

        LONG ANSWER:
        What you describe looks very much like either outsourcing of an HR role to a business instead of in-house human resources OR just plain old regular contractors to the European Commission and other institutions.

        EU institutions have a number of other ways to contract for short to medium term engagements qualified professionals (besides those described on this website). Most of the vacancy announcements actually appear as businesses looking for IT professionals for a particular project. You would simply be hired on a non-permanent contract by a business, the European Commission is just mentioned as a marketing instrument to facilitate interest. It also might be the case that in case a particular expert will work on a sensitive EC system or project, EC staff want to whet candidates to ensure that the person lives up to the CV.

        Another likely solution is that these businesses are selecting what are called “external experts” in EU institutions. These are people usually hired directly by the EU institutions. The challenge for the institutions is that to hire someone this way the person needs to be pre-selected and placed in an “external experts database” or something similar. For obvious reasons, EU institutions struggle to get enough people in these external experts databases so that they would be able to hire qualified candidates. It looks to me that some of these businesses you link to help to place enough qualified staff there.

        For the external experts the base rate is between 250 and 450 EUR per “man day”, and can be around 900 EUR for select profiles like IT, obscure legal areas, etc.

        However, be sure to read the contract once offered very carefully. If you are hired through a business, make sure that you get a fair deal. Too often consultancies offer very limited hours to sub-contractors and it’s hard to plan and balance the workload, and you often have to take care about your own tax liabilities (the sum in the contract is gross).

        If you happen to go through this process, please let us all know. I would love to welcome my first guest article as well 🙂

  2. Thanks for summarising all this in an understandable manner.
    Just one minor correction regarding French:
    ‘contract agent’ actually is ‘agent contractuel’, while
    ‘fonctionnaire’ is used for ‘(permanent) official’.

    For example, compare the French version of the staff regulations (“RÈGLEMENTNo 31 (C.E.E) 11 (C.E.E.A.)
    fixant le statut des fonctionnaires et le régime applicable aux autres agents de la Communauté économique européenne et de la Communauté européenne de l’énergie atomique “), ANNEXE VIII, Chapitre 2, Article 3 d)
    “[…] Cependant, lorsqu’un agent contractuel, au sens dudit régime, devient fonctionnaire, […]”
    to the English version:
    “[…] However, where members of the contract staff within the meaning of those Conditions of Employment become officials, […]”.

    Keep up your great work!

    1. Hi! Thanks for the helpful comment. Taken with grace and much appreciated. I’ll make an edit later today. Despite my years at the Institutions, I’m still discovering new things regularly.

  3. This is extremlly hard to understand and to calculate. Nice of you to contribute in this way, but a lot of stuff is unclear and sometimes confusing. Solidarity levy should be more clear, as well as taxation….

  4. Hi Ben

    Thanks so much for the useful info. Just one question about EU income tax. What is the next EU income tax % and the next bracket after 60k? I hope it is not immediately 45%

  5. Hi,do you also pay taxes to your country of origin or just the EU tax?
    8% up to 60000 seems very low!
    Can I get a job please?

  6. Hey all. Does anyone know if for example you have 14 years of experience now and your contract is for 4 years, if they decide to renew it is it on the old Grade 14 or are they going to renew it with Grade 16 since now you have more then 17 years of experience?

    1. Robert, thanks for the question. I’m unfortunatelly unable to give a precise answer. If you find out, please share with us as well!

    2. Hi, Rober! A similar question was asked by Stephen and I’m unable to answer. If you or Stephen find out, please share here so others can benefit. I assume that your HR units will be able to answer right away.

  7. Hey. What if you are offered Contract Agent position FG IV and you have 16 years of experience. You are hired at Grade 14 which is significant lower then Grade 16 with only one year of experience more.
    Does that mean that if you work in institution for 1 year and you now have 17 years, you are automatically upgraded to Grade 16 or do you have to wait to be promoted through institution.
    Thank you.

  8. Hey,
    Thanks for this article! Just to better understand the calculation for a 3000€ basic salary in Brussels (S):
    + you add allowances (let say 1000€): (S+A) = 4000€
    – you subtract the Social security: 4000€-(app.13%S) = 4000-520=3480
    – you subtract the EU income Tax: 3480-(8%S)=3480-278=3200€

    Is it the idea?

    Thanks!

    1. Jerome, more or less, although the actual calculation is much more complicated. People often think that they are entitled only to the basic salary, which actualy consitutes just 50% to 80% of one’s total remuneration package depending on the individual situation, including the number of children.

  9. Thanks for the info. Are contract agents eligible for any additional benefits (household allowance etc.) or are these reserved just for permanent officials? 🙂

  10. Thank you for your posts! Very helpful, indeed. I have been looking for relevant information like this for months without much success. Thank you again!

    1. I’m glad this is useful to someone. I had the same issue when starting to work for EU institutions and it’s hard for outsiders and sometimes even insiders to get clear answers to questions.

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