How much do EU officials earn?

How much do EU officials earn?

Media often portray the EU institutions as if everyone working in them is drowning in money. Indeed, the top EU jobs are lucrative hovering around the 25 000 EUR per month mark 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 Administrator, Assistant (‘fonctionnaire’ in French) and a Contract Agent (‘agent contractuel’ in French) at the European Commission is entitled to – the basic salary, allowances, health insurance, pension rights et cetera.

This article applies to the European Commission, European Parliament, European Council, EU Agencies, and other EU institutions, as these rules are applied uniformly across the “EU system”. The article also does not cover such staff groups as Seconded National Experts or SNEs, interims, nor trainees as these have their separate employment conditions and rules.

Information covered in this article comes from public sources, mainly the Staff Regulations and various vacancy announcements by EU institutions. However, most people struggle with ‘legalese’ in these documents, that makes hard to comprehend not only what is the actual basic salary, but total take-home pay. Hence, based on my experience in working for the EU, I’ve created this guide. I wish I would have had something like this resource before starting out on my career in EU institutions. If you know someone who’s interested in working for the “institutions”, share the article with them to, hopefully, motivate the person to apply for their first vacancy call or not give up after the first unsuccessful one.

How much will you make in a job at an EU institution?

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. People often focus only on the ‘basic salary’, however, the amount one gets in their bank account will depend at least four other factors besides the advertised base salary: 

  1. Type of contract: administrator, assistant, secretary/clerk, contract agent, seconded national expert and some more “exotic” jobs like a 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 1-6)
  • Contract Agents (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 a parity with living costs and the general labor 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 – Administrators and Assistants – (in French – ‘fonctionnaire’) 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 best paid employees of EU institutions (except the political appointments like the EU Commissioners and their team members).

Below is an overview of the monthly ‘basic salaries’ for Administrators and Assistants. Values in the table vary slightly from year to year, but they will give you a rather good idea of the income level. Importantly, on has to remember that the basic salary can deviate significantly from your take-home pay amount due to the various allowances you might be entitled to, or if you are working in an EU country where the Correction Coefficient is significantly higher/lower compared to Brussels.

EPSO video about Administrators’ duties in the economics profile at the European Commission

European Commission Salary scales for Administrators AD 5 – AD 16

GRADEStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5
AD 1619 490,7120 309,7421 163,17 – –
AD 1517 226,5317 950,4218 704,7119 225,1119 490,71
AD 1415 225,3515 865,1616 531,8316 991,7717 226,53
AD 1313 456,6914 022,1514 611,3715 017,9015 225,35
AD 1211 893,4612 393,2312 914,0213 273,3013 456,69
AD 1110 511,8310 953,5411 413,8211 731,3811 893,46
AD 109 290,719 681,1010 087,9410 368,5810 511,83
AD 98 211,438 556,488 916,059 164,099 290,71
AD 87 257,537 562,507 880,288 099,538 211,43
AD 76 414,446 683,996 964,857 158,637 257,53
AD 65 669,295 907,536 155,766 327,036 414,44
AD 55 010,725 221,275 440,675 592,055 669,29
European Commission basic salary scales for Administrators AD5-16 | Source: Staff Regulations, Article 66

European Commission Salary scales for Assistants AST 1 – AST 11

GRADEStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5
AST 1110 511,8310 953,5411 413,8211 731,3811 893,46
AST 109 290,719 681,1010 087,9410 368,5810 511,83
AST 98 211,438 556,488 916,059 164,099 290,71
AST 87 257,537 562,507 880,288 099,538 211,43
AST 76 414,446 683,996 964,857 158,637 257,53
AST 65 669,295 907,536 155,766 327,036 414,44
AST 55 010,725 221,275 440,675 592,055 669,29
AST 44 428,644 614,724 808,644 942,435 010,72
AST 33 914,154 078,654 250,054 368,274 428,64
AST 23 459,473 604,833 756,323 860,833 914,15
AST 13 057,603 186,073 319,953 412,343 459,47
European Commission basic salary scales for Assistants AST 1-11 | Source: Staff Regulations, Article 66

Detailed overviews of salaries and other benefits of Administrators AD5-16 and Assistants AST1-11

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.

There are the following additional limitations on advancement from one grade to the next:

Director-GeneralAD 15 – AD 16
DirectorAD 14 – AD 15
Adviser or equivalentAD 13- AD 14
Head of unit or equivalentAD 9 – AD 14
AdministratorAD 5 – AD 12

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’!

EPSO video about positions of Assistants. You can be a Head of Administration in an EU Delegation as an Assistant AST4 or higher.

You shouldn’t shy away from AST or Assistant’s positions. Unless you are literally hired for a position of a secretary, these usually are not low-level ‘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 management, or ICT specialists, but can very often be similar to AD posts. As an example, as an Assistant with a salary of 8000+ euros per month, you actually might manage a large group of laywer-linguists or be a senior IT architecture specialist. Yes, sometimes EU rules and naming conventions are weird. 

Salaries of Secretaries and clerks AST/SC 1-6

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 64 970,955 179,845 397,505 547,655 624,31
AST/SC 54 393,494 578,114 771,164 903,204 970,95
AST/SC 43 883,124 046,284 216,324 333,624 393,49
AST/SC 33 432,013 576,233 726,533 830,193 883,12
AST/SC 23 033,323 160,803 293,633 385,253 432,01
AST/SC 12 680,962 793,622 911,022 991,983 033,32
European Commission 2022 basic salary scales – AST/SC secretaries and clerks | Source: Staff Regulations, Article 66

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.

Detailed overviews of salaries and other benefits of Secretaries and Clerks in grades AST/SC 1-6

Salary of Secretaries and Clerks AST/SC 1
Salary of Secretaries and Clerks AST/SC 2
Salary of Secretaries and Clerks AST/SC 3
Salary of Secretaries and Clerks AST/SC 4
Salary of Secretaries and Clerks AST/SC 5
Salary of Secretaries and Clerks AST/SC 6

Salaries of Contract Agents FGI-IV

Salaries of contract agents (in French – “agent contractuel”) mostly depend on which function group and grade they are in. You as a candidate cannot 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’ starting monthly ‘basic pay’: 

  • Function Group IV (grade 13-18): 3624 EUR
  • Function Group III (grade 8-12): 2831 EUR
  • Function Group II (grade 4-7): 2211 EUR
  • Function Group I (grade 1-3): 2129 EUR

The table below 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. 

Video about a Contract Agent role at the European Commission
Function Group & GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7
FGIV 187189,807339,327491,937647,747806,797969,138134,84
FGIV 176354,546486,676621,576759,286899,847043,327189,80
FGIV 165616,295733,085852,315974,016098,266225,096354,54
FGIV 154963,815067,045172,435279,995389,805501,875616,29
FGIV 144387,164478,394571,534666,594763,674862,694963,81
FGIV 133877,473958,124040,424124,464210,224297,784387,16
FGIII 124963,755066,965172,355279,895389,685501,765616,17
FGIII 114387,134478,344571,474666,524763,574862,634963,75
FGIII 103877,463958,094040,404124,434210,194297,754387,13
FGIII 93427,033498,293571,043645,323721,123798,483877,46
FGIII 83028,923091,913156,213221,833288,843357,233427,03
FGII 73426,953498,243570,983645,253721,103798,483877,47
FGII 63028,793091,763156,083221,723288,723357,133426,95
FGII 52676,852732,522789,362847,382906,592967,063028,79
FGII 42365,822415,032465,272516,552568,882622,312676,85
FGI 32914,512974,993036,753099,763164,083229,763296,81
FGI 22576,552630,022684,612740,322797,202855,262914,51
FGI 1277,792325,072373,312422,562472,852524,172576,55
European Commission 2022 basic salary scales for Contract Agents in function groups FGI, FGII, FGIII, FGIV | Source: Staff Regulations, Article 93

Detailed overviews of salaries and other benefits of Contract Agents in Function Groups FG I, FG II, FG III, and FG IV

Required periods of previous work experience for Contract Agents FGI-FGIV

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.

Required education level for Contract Agents FGI-FGIV

Minimum education for Contract Agents according to function group and grades:

(a)   function group I (grades 1-3):

  • successful completion of compulsory education.

(b)   in function group II (grades 4-7):

  • a post-secondary education attested by a diploma, or
  • a secondary education attested by a diploma giving access to post-secondary education, and appropriate professional experience of three years. The secondary education diploma giving access to post-secondary education may be replaced by a certificate of adequate professional training of not less than three years on condition that there was no similar professional training giving access to higher education at the time it was issued or,
  • successful completion of intermediate education plus two years relevant supplementary specialised training plus five years’ appropriate professional experience.

(c)   in function group III (grades 8-12):

  • a post-secondary education attested by a diploma, or
  • a secondary education attested by a diploma giving access to post-secondary education and appropriate professional experience of three years.

(d)   in function group IV (grades 13-18):

  • completed university studies of at least three years attested by a diploma and appropriate professional experience of at least one year.

Only diplomas and certificates that have been awarded in EEA Member countries or that are the subject of equivalence certificates issued by the authorities in the said Member countries will be taken into consideration.

Allowances and other benefits

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 Administrators and Assistants (AD 5-16 and AST 1-11) as well as 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 10,1% 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.

Visuals for download or sharing

European Commission 2022 basic salary scales for officials – Administrators AD5-16 and Assistants AST 1-11
European Commission 2022 basic salary scales for officials – Administrators AD5-16 and Assistants AST 1-11 | Source: Staff Regulations, Article 66
European Commission 2022 basic salary scales – AST/SC secretaries and clerks
European Commission 2022 basic salary scales – AST/SC secretaries and clerks
This article is based on the European Commission Staff Regulations and other publicly available information such as EU institutions’ vacancy announcements.

What questions or suggestions do you have for this article? Please share in a comment below and let’s make this resource better for you and other readers!

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

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55 responses to “How much do EU officials earn?”

  1. Kate avatar

    Hi dears,

    Could you tell how long does take the background check?
    And if I received from the Head of the recruitment Unit an appointment decision stating the start date of taking up of my duties does it mean that the background check is done or it can take place even after hiring?

    1. Ben avatar

      You are conditionally hired and work until the background check results arrive. If it’s negative, you will be dismissed. Most colleagues report that it takes up to six months, but there are cases when it does not arrive for years. When the delay is justified (national institution does not provide info to your EU institution), you just keep working.

      Security clearance has to be renewed every 5 years, and you are responsible for not missing the deadline. If you have to go to your home country for this, it is considered and administrative mission and your institution covers mission costs.

  2. Diego avatar

    Great Webpage!

    Is there any place where you can consult the actual income tax brackets?

    1. Ben avatar

      Diego, thanks for the comment! This is a popular question and I’ve been meaning to write an article about this for a long while, but god knows when I’ll get to that.

      The best I can offer at the moment is a link to a regulation, which I believe should set you on the right road. However, you’ll anyway have to do additional calculations as the regulation doesn’t give an easy-to-understand answer.

  3. João avatar

    Hi all!

    I’ve researched a lot on the subject but I haven’t come up with a clear answer on this one:

    If you are hired for a position as AST, can you be promoted to an AD or do you have to take the apply for a position that is AD and go to the recruitment process all over again?

    1. Ben avatar

      Hi! In 99.9% of cases you would have to apply to an AD position. I’ve heard of instances where people went from AST to AD, but this requires a decision of the Executive Director in an agency or similar level in the Commission. Best bet is to work hard, prove yourself + network so that when an AD position is announced, the business entity looking for a candidate already knows that you are a good fit.

      1. ErikT avatar

        There is no such thing as being ‘promoted’ from a lower function group to another one or from AST/C to AST and from AST to AD. This can only be by ‘appointment’ = pass a recruitment. But let me explain some concepts here:

        There is a difference in recruitment policy and posts of (Executive) Agencies and Institutions (e.g. Commission/Parliament/…): The first recruits non-permanent positions and the officials are those moved in the intrest of the service to these entities. While the Institutions recruit mostly permanent positions where the entry grades on entry can be even lower compared to these Agencies but they are of a permanent nature and you can progress according to seniority, merit and function group promotion allocations (you stay always within the career path of your function group).

        It must be clear that non-permanent posts (Contractual & Temporary Agents) as the term speaks for itself is limited in time, even if they can be extended several times till ‘undetermined’ in (Executive) Agencies. Some might be long lasting till you acquire your retirement age (but no one can tell this beforehand). While in the Institutions these type of posts are limited in time except for Contractuel Agent FG I which can be extended the same way. People can also progress but as with officials they stay within their career path of the Function Group (FG).

        For Temporary Agent (Agent Temporaire) – non permanent post ‘upgrade’: This is possible if the Appointing Authority (French abreviation in docs used is ‘AIPN’) decides for service reasons to convert an existing post from AST to AD (and sacrifice another postion(s) or received more quota which is rare these days). In such case you could be hired (=appointed) onto that ‘new’ AD post for as much as you still comply according to the rules and conditions laid down for it.

        For Officials (‘Fonctionnaires’): There is no such thing as moving or being promoted from AST/C to AST or AST to AD. This can only be achieved by an external or internal competition or the certification track program (AST to AD). None of the aforementioned options are ‘automatic’, they all require you to be accepted in a competition with many others and to retake exams. If you pass and there is a vacant position you are appointed into that new function group (not promoted!). To be noted that you lose also seniority of your former function group (AST) only pension entitlements are kept.

        1. Ben avatar

          Erik, thanks for this and all the other useful comments, much appreciated!

          1. ErikT avatar

            Your welcome Ben! I get myself for over a decade regularly questions from potential candidates as from already recruited staff. Aside curiosity provoked often by biased articles created by political or sensation inspired journalism (with known reactions), many are in search for real (unbiased) information. In search for information I came across your guide and it helps in bringing such clarity. Not all questions are easy to answer with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘NO’. However, everyone should bear in mind that any answer given here is ‘informative’ and can change over time. For a precise and legal binding answer, only the anwer/decision of the official instance given on your file counts (based on the specific implementation of rules for that organization, your personal situation and provided material at the time of decision). But being knowledgeable helps in setting correct expectations as to providing the correct info to the administration to ensure one’s entitlements.

  4. annika bauer avatar
    annika bauer

    (1)Annual travel compensation.
    The information you provide is incorrect. It is calculated based on physical distance (km), geographical km not effective and longer km/road distance.
    (2) Also health insurance reimbursements: while up to 85%, there are many ceilings! These are outdated (over 15 years old and too low) and you often end up with far more than 15% of paid costs remaining at your expense.
    (3) Note: working from home has become obligatory for several days a week, so you must ensure to rent adequate lodgings (space) and have good internet connection. No financial contribution towards “home office”.
    In summary: employment conditions have worsened over the last 15 years.

  5. F*&^ the EU avatar
    F*&^ the EU

    60000 euros is £52481 and paying 8% tax! In the UK if I earn over £12000 I pay 20% tax, and you lot think you are hard done by! This is only 1 perk of working for the EU! This is the reason I voted leave!

    1. Vicky avatar

      Maybe you should have voted “leave UK”

    2. Alex avatar

      In Belgium I’m paying more than 40% tax and my bonuses or any extra pay from my base salary is taxed 62% (yep.. 62%) but I am happy to be in the EU. I don’t mind smart people working hard to make this work properly, but you British are way to proud to understand the value of being a member-state. Oh and.. byyye

  6. Alfonso avatar

    Thanks a lot for your amazing work. It is the best and most complete explanation about EU salaries that I have been able to find. I honestly appreciate it, congratulations!

  7. Roberto avatar

    Hi, I am Italian and have been living in UK for the last 9.5 years. I have been offered a contract (as contract agent FG3) at an EU institution based in Italy, and have not received expatriation allowance. My understanding is because I haven’t reached 10 years living in the UK.
    Do you know if there is any flexibility at all, and whether I would still be eligible for something considering I am only missing 6 months? Thank you

  8. Manolis avatar

    You have done such an excellent job! It’s a real service to all of us by breaking down and simplifying the bulky EU staff regulations.
    I just wanted to point this out.
    Thank you!

    1. Ben avatar

      Hi! Thank you very much for the nice comment, I really appreciate it.
      Good to know that the info is approachable and useful, trying to do my best here 🙂

  9. Marge avatar

    Hi, would appreciate your thoughts. Ast-SC 1 position is available in the unit, which would be great introduction to my ast1 or ast 3 ongoing competitions or those in future. But could you help to understand what allowances/benefits I am entitled to: position in Belgium, I have lived in Belgium 12 years, divorced, 1 child. Am I entitled to household allowance and/or travel experience covered etc? Thanks

    1. Ben avatar

      Marge, hi! From the info you provide, I come up with the following:
      1. Dependent child allowance, as its granted to all parents irrespective of national status.
      2. Daily Subsistence Allowance only if you had to relocate within Belgium because of work. If you have to relocated, you’ll also get your Removal costs covered.
      3. EU school or Education/pre-school allowance if your child would not attend the EU school. The Education allowance can still be used to cover some costs like transportation while enrolled in an EU school.
      4. JSIS coverage for you and child.

      I think that you are right about taking the AST/SC position. The advantages you gain over you competition after having even a bit of time within institutions is very significant. And AST/SC is not that different from AST so it might indeed be a great inroad to a career.

  10. Bryan avatar

    Hi Ben, thanks for the information.
    I am right now finishing a master’s degree (not married, have no children) and I have been working 7 years for a financial institution with a bachelor (high school) and I always wanted to work for an EU organization (I am from Belgium). I have 2 or 3 questions, maybe stupid 😉

    1. If I (hopefully) get a job in an EU institution with a master’s degree and more than 7 years of experience in the finance field, will I automatically be under category AD 7, that apparently requires more than 6 years of experience, or it depends of the job offer?

    2. What about the salary…I see your resume above this article and I suppose that we all begin with step 1 that’s OK, but are the shown salaries gross or net salaries ?? For example: 4 917,29 EUR for an AD5 step 1; Should I reduce social security (13% Belgium) and EU Tax (8%) or is it net?

    3. What about the contracts, I see that the permanent contracts are the best you can have in the EU institutions, but is this equivalent to a a nominated official (statutory) like in Belgium or is that equivalent to a permanent contract in the private sector ?

    Last question: What types of exams do you have to get a job with a permanent contract, are they difficult ? (any books to suggest?) Can we also chose the language we wants to speak/use in the job, or it’s always English ?

    Thanks for your answers!

    Bryan B.

    1. Ben avatar

      Bryan, apologies for missing your comment. Great questions and will happily answer them.
      1) Your prior work experience does not automatically qualify you for a particular contract group (administrators, assistants, contract agents). You get the contract that is advertised for the particular vacancy. If the vacancy is for AD5, you can get only AD5. Usually all vacancies start at step 1, but there are cases where a longer work experience qualifies you for step 2 (around 150EUR per month more in salary; you advance through steps every 2 years automatically, unless you get promoted and it goes more quickly).
      2) The salaries in the tables are “gross”, however, you cannot calculate them the same as on the national level. In general, the tax burden is lower, and there are a number of allowances. If you are a local, you get a net salary that is lower than the advertised basic salary. If you are an expat, because of the allowances, your actually salary is a bit higher than the basic salary. You can check out the articles about AD5 and AD7 on the page to get a rough idea.
      3) Permanent contracts would be similar to “nominated official” in Belgium. However, these are hard to get by. In European Commission you have to be an administrator or assistant to qualify, and you usually get the permanent contract after 10 years of service (two 5-year contract extensions). In most EU agencies also contract agents FGI-FGIV can get a permanent contract after on average 6 years of service, but not so in Commission.
      4) Regarding exams, to get a job in the European Commission DGs, EEAS, etc., you have to succesfully pass the EPSO selection procedures. These can be quite hard and most people who pass study and practice quite hard before them. For this reason many people apply to agencies, as there the selection procedure is much easier (basically, an interview and a job-like test).

      I hope this helps! Cheers!

  11. Sascha avatar

    Thanks so much for this information! I’m Belgian and applying for an AD5 position. In the Belgian private sector, we have something called “holiday money”, which is basically a 13th salary in each year.
    Apart from all of the allowances mentioned in the article, is this something commission staff also get, or is it your given salary 5however high it might be in the end) x 12?
    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Ben avatar

      Hi! There is no 13th salary of EU officials. However, there is something called a “travel allowance” for expats that aims to compensate travel once a year back to your home country. If you are a Belgian national working in Belgium, you would not be entitled to the travel allowance.

  12. Andrea Danilo avatar
    Andrea Danilo

    I would like to ask for a position in Brussels what would be the approximate salary (net) for AD8, i am an Italian National with 3 children over 6 years old. So what do you think does it deserve?

    1. Ben avatar

      Please see the article on AD7 and add around 800 EUR per month + childcare allowances.

      1. ErikT avatar

        Childcare allowance = minus allowances (childcare) received from other sources (or through your partner).

  13. Gabriele avatar

    I don’t manage to activate a reply to your answer so I will have to open an new comment. I am referring to my question from the 24 February and your answer from the 25 February. I am Gabriele and had the question about the step 1 or 2. There is a misunderstanding. The job is offered for step 1 or 2. I was classified in the end for step 2. But I wonder, because the job asks for 15+ while my work experience is 26 years, is it possible to ask to be put into step 3 or more?

    1. Ben avatar

      Gabriele, hi! You will not be put in step 3 or higher automatically. You will have to negotiate if you’re in a strong position (e.g., the institution really needs you).
      Good to know that you will advance by 1 step every 2 years, unless you are “reclassified” based on good performance. In the latter case, you will advance faster through the steps or even grades.

  14. Gabriele avatar

    Thanks for these articles. I have a question. I accepted an AD position. In the vacancy note, the post was offered as AD step 1 or 2. In the initial offer to me for the job, I was classified into step 1. After having looked at my documents, I was told by the recruitment center, that, since my work experience is more than 15 years, I will be classified into step 2. However, the selection criteria for the job was 15 years and my proven work experience is 25 years and 10 months (by the time I start the job even 26 years and 2 months). Is there any way to find out if I am not eligible for a higher step – or does it stick to step 1 or 2 since that was offered? Can I negotiate this? Is there a list for the classification of the steps?

    1. Ben avatar

      Hi! In fact it is very common for EU institutions’ HR units to make mistakes. Often it is due to workload, sometimes due to low competence. It definitively makes sense to at least ask for clarifications and escalate the question at least 1 level up the hierarchy.
      If you have 15+ years of experience and the requirement was 15+, I see no reason why you shouldn’t back down. Also, while you might feel vulnerable as you haven’t yet signed the contract, an institution cannot simply withdraw the offer based on you asking questions and justifications. In the worst case you can always accept the offer at step 1. Difference between steps 1 and 2 is not large by some EU officials’ standards (150-250eur/month), however, we are speaking of several thousand euros annually.

  15. Arthur avatar

    Hi! Thanks for this overview. Do you know if temporary agents (assistants specifically), receive a Christmas bonus or yearly holiday allowance? Thanks!

    1. Ben avatar

      There is no Xmas bonus or similar allowance/payment for EU officials.

      In most institutions everyone advances 1 step in the salary scale every two years. The only way to boost your regular salary is to get promoted/reclassified to a higher step or grade based on good performance as a result of the annual appraisal. This is a much lengthier process, however, the salary increases as a result of this procedure are much more permanent.

  16. Erik avatar

    Hi! I just received a job offer at one of the EU agencies and have a question on the grading. With 20 years of experience, the EU agency offers a AD grade 6 (six) , which – to my opinion – is an entry position (completion of university degree and 3 years of experience). Is there any internal EU policy on grading and relevant years of experience? the Staff Regulation and CEOS is not giving any guidance.

    1. Ben avatar

      Hi! I’m sorry, but the EU institutions are not able to increase your grade based on the length of your work experience. You get the grade that was advertised in the job announcement. However, you might try to negotiate that you are placed in a higher step.

      While your work experience doesn’t impact the grade, AD6 in your case, you should benefit from immediately being placed in a higher step. As you can see in the article, the difference between steps 1 and 5 is around 700 EUR per month. The ‘appointing authority’ is able to take such a decision provided that it’s justified, e.g., you are a supremely qualified candidate that would otherwise not accept the job offer. Let me know if this works out!

  17. Roger pring avatar
    Roger pring

    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?


    1. Ben avatar

      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. Roger pring avatar
        Roger pring

        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:
        2. (the link was too long)

      2. Ben avatar

        Roger, I now get what you are talking about.

        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 🙂

  18. Anonymous, but friendly nitpicker :) avatar
    Anonymous, but friendly nitpicker 🙂

    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. Ben avatar

      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.

  19. Danko avatar

    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….

  20. Ken avatar

    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%

  21. Bruce Pemberton avatar
    Bruce Pemberton

    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?

    1. Ben avatar

      No, you don’t have to pay any national taxes.

  22. Robert avatar

    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. Ben avatar

      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. Ben avatar

      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.

    3. Michal avatar

      The years of experience are the minimum to get the job and do not lead to automatic reclassifications, i.e. moving to a higher grade is an independent process that can actually happen within the length of your contract. As for the renewal, the usual approach is to keep the same grade unless you get a new position. At least this is how it works in my EU institution 🙂

  23. Stephen Wheeler avatar
    Stephen Wheeler

    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.

  24. Jerome avatar

    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?


    1. Ben avatar

      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.

  25. Sonček avatar

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

    1. Ben avatar

      Contract agents (all grades I-IV) are eligible to the same allowances as TAs. You can see an example of the allowances in this article: I still haven’t finished a dedicated article on the full remuneration packages of FGs.

  26. Miguel López Díez avatar
    Miguel López Díez

    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. Ben avatar

      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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