How much do EU officials earn?

How much do EU officials earn?

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Basic salary’ doesn’t tell the whole story. Total take-home pay in EU institutions depends on multiple factors.
  • Employment rules are uniform across not only the European Commission, European Parliament, European Council, but all 76 EU institutions.
  • EU jobs are competitive not only because of the salaries, but the many other benefits.

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 and actual take-home pay, as well as health insurance, pension rights et cetera.

The Berlaymont building in Brussels, where the European Commission headquarters are located
The Berlaymont building in Brussels, where the European Commission headquarters are located

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 it hard to comprehend not only what is the actual basic salary, but also the actual take-home pay. Hence, I have created this guide, which is based on my experience of working for the EU institutions.

I wish I would have had something like this resource before starting out on my career in EU jobs. 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 and not to give up after the first unsuccessful ‘concours’.

Residence Palace building in Brussels, headquarters of the Council of the European Union and European Council
Residence Palace building in Brussels, headquarters of the Council of the European Union and European Council

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 on at least five other factors besides the advertised basic 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.

There are a number of other advantages that make an EU job quite attractive in the long run, especially if people are thinking about their pensions or health care coverage.

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

Your basic salary is adjusted annually according to inflation and purchasing power in your EU country of employment, ensuring parity with living costs and the general labour market. Furthermore, if you work for an EU institution outside of Belgium or Luxembourg, your salary is subject to the Correction Coefficient, which accounts for the cost of living in your specific 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, one 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

The below table shows the monthly basic salary for Administrators (AD) in the European Commission and all other EU institutions, ranging from grade AD 5 to AD 16. Keep in mind that your actual take-home pay may vary, as it can be affected by allowances and the Correction Coefficient in your country of employment.

European Commission Salary scales for Administrators AD 5 – AD 16

GRADEStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5
AD 1621 211,1822 102,5023 031,28  
AD 1518 747,1419 534,9320 355,7920 922,1321 211,18
AD 1416 569,3117 265,6017 991,1218 491,6518 747,14
AD 1314 644,5315 259,9015 901,1316 343,5516 569,31
AD 1212 943,3113 487,2014 053,9614 444,9514 644,53
AD 1111 439,7111 920,4212 421,3312 766,9212 943,31
AD 1010 110,8210 535,6710 978,4111 283,8311 439,71
AD 98 936,269 311,779 703,099 973,0210 110,82
AD 87 898,168 230,058 575,888 814,498 936,26
AD 76 980,667 274,007 579,657 790,547 898,16
AD 66 169,726 429,006 699,146 885,536 980,66
AD 55 453,025 682,165 920,936 085,676 169,72
European Commission basic salary scales for Administrators AD5-16 | Source: Staff Regulations, Article 66

The following table presents the monthly basic salary for Assistants (AST) in the European Commission and all other EU institutions, ranging from grade AST 1 to AST 11.

European Commission Salary scales for Assistants AST 1 – AST 11

AST 1111 439,7111 920,4212 421,3312 766,9212 943,31
AST 1010 110,8210 535,6710 978,4111 283,8311 439,71
AST 98 936,269 311,779 703,099 973,0210 110,82
AST 87 898,168 230,058 575,888 814,498 936,26
AST 76 980,667 274,007 579,657 790,547 898,16
AST 66 169,726 429,006 699,146 885,536 980,66
AST 55 453,025 682,165 920,936 085,676 169,72
AST 44 819,565 022,075 233,115 378,715 453,02
AST 34 259,654 438,684 625,204 753,864 819,56
AST 23 764,843 923,044 087,894 201,634 259,65
AST 13 327,493 467,313 613,003 713,563 764,84
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 15AD 16
DirectorAD 14AD 15
Adviser or equivalentAD 13- AD 14
Head of unit or equivalentAD 9AD 14
AdministratorAD 5AD 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. 

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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 65 409,745 637,085 873,956 037,356 120,77
AST/SC 54 781,304 982,225 192,325 336,025 409,74
AST/SC 44 225,884 403,454 588,504 716,154 781,30
AST/SC 33 734,963 891,914 055,484 168,284 225,88
AST/SC 23 301,083 439,813 584,373 684,073 734,96
AST/SC 12 917,613 040,223 167,983 256,093 301,08
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’: 

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 187 312,037 464,097 619,297 777,757 939,518 104,618 273,13
FGIV 176 462,576 596,946 734,146 874,197 017,147 163,067 312,03
FGIV 165 711,775 830,545 951,806 075,576 201,936 330,926 462,57
FGIV 155 048,195 153,185 260,365 369,755 481,435 595,405 711,77
FGIV 144 461,744 554,524 649,254 745,924 844,654 945,365 048,19
FGIV 133 943,394 025,414 109,114 194,584 281,794 370,844 461,74
FGIII 125 048,135 153,105 260,285 369,655 481,305 595,295 711,64
FGIII 114 461,714 554,474 649,184 745,854 844,554 945,295 048,13
FGIII 103 943,384 025,384 109,094 194,554 281,764 370,814 461,71
FGIII 93 485,293 557,763 631,753 707,293 784,383 863,053 943,38
FGIII 83 080,413 144,473 209,873 276,603 344,753 414,303 485,29
FGII 73 485,213 557,713 631,693 707,223 784,363 863,053 943,39
FGII 63 080,283 144,323 209,733 276,493 344,633 414,203 485,21
FGII 52 722,362 778,972 836,782 895,792 956,003 017,503 080,28
FGII 42 406,042 456,092 507,182 559,332 612,552 666,892 722,36
FGI 32 964,063 025,563 088,373 152,463 217,873 284,673 352,86
FGI 22 620,352 674,732 730,252 786,912 844,752 903,802 964,06
FGI 12 316,512 364,602 413,662 463,742 514,892 567,082 620,35
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.

Salary Ursula von der Leyen
Salary of Ursula von der Leyen compared to the Chancellor of Germany and the US President

Salaries of European Commission President and Commissioners

Salaries of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioners are calculated as a percentage of the highest basic salary possible for non-political posts in EU institutions, such as General Directors in DGs.

This refers to the 3rd step of grade 16 in the EU ‘salary scale’. This value as of 1 January 2023 is EUR 23,031.28.

The European Commission President is entitled to 138% of the basic salary of the highest paid non-political EU civil servant. Vice-Presidents get 125%, “regular” Commissioners get 112,5%.

Basic salary coefficients for members of the College of European Commission
Basic salary coefficients for members of the College of European Commission

If you are interested in the salary of a particular EU Commissioner, click on a link below.

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).

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:

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. 

It’s important to note that your salary as an EU official is exempt from national tax in your country of origin.

Interested in this topic? Read the in-depth article about taxes for EU officials.

What is the European Commission correction coefficient?
What is the European Commission correction coefficient?

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 2023 basic salary scales for Administrators AD5-16
European Commission 2023 basic salary scales for Assistants AST 1-11
European Commission 2023 basic salary scales for secretaries and clerks AST/SC
European Commission 2023 basic salary scales for CONTRACT AGENTS FGI, FGII, FGIII AND FGIV

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

Do you have question or suggestion 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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61 responses to “How much do EU officials earn?”

  1. Hello, thanks for this it is very helpful. Still one point is not clear for me: are pension contribution, social security etc. already deducted from the value of basic pay salary or not? If not that would mean we should considera that the net pay of the basic salary would be around 80% of the published amounts. Additionally I didn’t see specified anyway, but understood that 12 payments apply a per year (no extra pays). Thanks a lot

  2. hi All, question, If the job is for example AST3 how common is it to negotiate a higher salary than the one given in the ad?

    • There’s sometimes an mention in vacancy notices that the successful applicant can be placed in either step 1 or 2. It is my understanding that this is decided both on formal grounds, e.g., work experience duration, but also there might be some leeway to negotiate if you are a desirable candidate. But I’m not completely certain about this. Your negotiation power for AST3 is probably much lower than if you’d apply for AD7/AST7 and up.

  3. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

          • 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.

  5. (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.

  6. 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!

      • Why should he vote to leave his own country? He has every right to vote for the policy he finds best for his country. Gosh, I hope you don’t work for the EU, with this attitude…

    • 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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!

    • 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 🙂

  10. 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

    • 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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!

  12. 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!

    • 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.

  13. 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?

  14. Hi
    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?

    • 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.

  15. 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  17. 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.

    • 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!

  18. 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?


    • 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?

      • 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)

      • 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 🙂

  19. 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!

    • 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.

  20. 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….

  21. 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%

  22. 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?

  23. 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?

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

    • 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.

    • 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 🙂

  24. 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.

  25. 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?


    • 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.

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

  27. 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!

    • 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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