President of the European Commission is one of the most powerful jobs in the world. It is currently held by Ursula von der Leyen, a German politician and former Minister of Defense. She is also the first woman to have this position. Previously this position was held by Jean-Claude Juncker. But how much does the European Commission President make? And what are other perks of the job? Below is an overview of what public sources reveal.
The President of the European Commission is entitled to a ‘basic salary’ (before any of the allowances) of 138% of the top civil service grade. If a Director-General of a DG with a grade 16 step 3 is getting 20 219,80 EUR per month, then Ursula von der Layen’s salary is approximately 27 903,32 EUR.
For Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this comes to a total of 335 000 EUR or 364 000 USD per year. As a comparison, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has a nominal yearly salary of 368 000 EUR or 400 000 USD. The Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkell is reported to have an annual salary of EUR 242 000 or 262 600 USD.
Related reading: how much do ‘regular’ EU officials earn?
For information, the salaries of European Commissioners are set at 112.5% of the top European Commission offical, while the Vice-President gets 125% and the High Representative – 130%.
The Commission President is entitled to a representation allowance of 1 418 EUR per month. This allowance is 911 EUR for the Vice Presidents and 608 EUR for regular Commissioners.
Interestingly, at least until 2004 this was called the “Entertainment allowance”, but has subsequently been renamed to be more socially acceptable.
“Regular” EU allowances
Like any other EU official, the European Commission President is also entitled to a number of “regular” EU allowances. Compared to the EC President’s basic salary, the allowances make up a relatively small amount of the total take-home pay. They are listed below.
- Household allowance. EC President is entitled to a household allowance of 5 % of his/hers basic salary or 1395.17 EUR per month. This is more than for a regular EU household allowance of 176.01 EUR + 2% of basic salary.
- Dependent child allowance.
- Education allowance.
- Expatriation and foreign residence allowance equal to 15 % of the basic salary.
- Installation and Resettlement (removal) allowances. On joining the Commission, the President and the Commissioners each get a two months’ salary or 55 806,64 EUR to help to establish a residence in Brussels. After leaving the European Commission, the President gets one month’s basic salary or 27 903,32 EUR to move back home or to another place of employment. The EC President (and all other EU officials) is entitled to reimbursement of costs associated with transporting personal belongings to the place of employment at the start of duties and back when EU employment is finished.
- Healthcare costs reimbursement to a level of 80-85% through the EU’s Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme.
- Travel expenses.
- Birth grant.
The European Commission’s main building is the Berlaymont on Rue de la Loi 200 in Brussels, Belgium. The President’s office is on floor 13, the top floor of the Berlaymont building. The President literally sits on top of the European Commission’s hierarchy.
However, social media pictures reveal that the interior of the office of the European Commission President are surprisingly ascetic compared to offices of most national top-level government officials. Each new EC President gets to choose the artwork and furniture, and that’s about it.
When Ursula von der Leyen took office and announced that she plans to sleep in her office, the world also found out that the office has a 25 sq.m. private room called “a personal retreat” by Commission staff. It also has a shower.
Transition payments after leaving office
If they have served the full five year term, the President of the European Commission and the Commissioners are entitled to ‘transition payments’ for up to three years after leaving their posts. On average these amount to 40-65% of the previous salary. It is reduced if they take up new paid activities during the three year period.
Commissioners are entitled to an EU pension. It is calculated at 4.275% of the basic salary for every full year in office. In practice this means that Ursula von der Leyen will get a pension of 21.38% of her last basic salary or about 5 964 EUR every month if she stays as European Commission President the full five years.
The full pension can be received form the age of 65. If the official chooses to receive the pension from the age of 60, 64% of the total amount are paid.
Salary of the European Commission President is calculated according to the Regulation No 422/67/EEC, 5/67/Euratom of the Council of 25 July 1967 determining the emoluments of the President and members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice. This regulation also covers the salaries of the European Commissioners, and Judges of the Court of the European Union. Source for the figures on salary of the German Chancellor: attachment IV to the Federal Law on Salaries of Officers – Bundesbesoldungsgesetz, BGBl. 2002 I p. 3020. Source for the figures on salary of the US President is the White House Website.