Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Seventh Report





COM(02) 136

(a) Amended draft Council Regulation introducing special measures to terminate the service of officials of the Commission of the EC as part of the reform of the Commission.

(b) Draft Council Regulation introducing special measures to terminate the service of officials of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.

(c) Draft Council Regulation introducing special measures to terminate the service of European Parliament officials and temporary staff working in the Political Groups.

(d) Amended draft Council Regulation amending Regulation (EEC, Euratom, ECSC) No 260/68 laying down the conditions and procedure for applying the tax for the benefit of the European Communities.

(e) Amended draft Council Regulation amending Regulation (Euratom, ECSC, EEC) No 549/69 determining the categories of officials and other servants of the European Communities to whom the provisions of Article 12, the second paragraph of Article 13 and Article 14 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the Communities apply.





Legal base:

Article 283 EC; qualified majority voting


Document originated:

20 March 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

15 April 2002


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Basis of consideration:

EM of 25 April 2002

Previous Committee Report:


To be discussed in Council:

Expected to go to COREPER on 8 May and subsequently to Council as 'A' points.

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:





  13.1  The Commission signalled its intention to reallocate officials in order to concentrate on its core policy objectives in its White Paper, Reforming the Commission, of March 2000[9]. An assessment of the Commission's tasks, undertaken by a Peer Group, concluded in July 2000 that there was a shortfall of 1,254 staff assigned to priority activities.

The Commission's proposals

  13.2  The first three parts of the document, (a), (b) and (c), set out proposals to authorise the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament to operate schemes that allow a limited number of officials to leave the Institutions before the normal retirement age and make it possible for people with skills that are in short supply to be recruited.

  13.3  The purpose of (d) and (e) is to prevent those who avail themselves of the special measures offered from escaping Community tax.

  13.4  Introducing the proposal on Commission staff, the Commission says:

"Two thirds of these requirements will be met from further rationalisation efforts (discontinuation or scaling back of activities, productivity gains) or by internal redeployment. Targeted and effective accompanying measures are to be designed to enable redeployed staff to perform other, higher priority activities. These measures are of vital importance to the success of the redeployment exercise.

"Training is one of them. The training requirements for ensuring the most effective possible redeployment of these officials will be identified and the necessary means put in place.

"However, the skills of some of the staff concerned, in particular older ones, may not be in line with the duties to be performed.

"A scheme that allows these officials to leave the Institution before the normal retirement age and makes it possible for people with skills that are in short supply within the Commission to be recruited is another essential accompanying measure. It is justified also by the need for staff with new skill profiles and the need to rebalance the establishment plan to make way for more A/LA[10] and B officials.

"On the basis of an analysis of the specialised profiles and skills required in the Commission, the number of staff to whom the scheme would apply has been estimated at 600 spread over a period of three years. The purpose of this proposal therefore is to authorise a termination-of-service scheme for 600 Commission officials, with 200 departing in 2002, 200 in 2003 and 200 in 2004.

"Provided the impact on the budget is neutral, the savings generated by the scheme (the difference between the cost of total remuneration and the cost of the termination-of-service allowance) should allow around 273 new officials to be recruited."

  13.5  Considerably more detail is provided in the proposals themselves, including the annexed financial statements.

  13.6  The scheme proposed for the General Secretariat of the Council would terminate the service of 94 officials, to be replaced by 46 new recruits.

  13.7  The proposal for the European Parliament (EP) would terminate the service of 100 officials, and 24 temporary staff working in the Political Groups. This should allow around 47 new officials and 11 new temporary staff to be recruited.

Allowance Percentage Schemes

  13.8  The three Institutions will all adopt broadly similar schemes. Officials benefiting from the schemes, whose service is terminated, shall be entitled to a monthly allowance set as a percentage of the last basic salary received according to age and length of service at the time of departure.

  13.9  Most of the officials concerned will have reached the end of their career bracket. A grid shows the level of allowance depending on age and length of service. The range is from age 55 with 15 to 19 years service, for whom the allowance will be 60% of final basic salary, to those over 63 years with 30 years or more service, for whom the allowance will be 70%.

Calculating the impact on the budget

  13.10  The impact on the budget will mainly affect the years 2002 to 2012. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of allowances will decline as officials whose service has been terminated early reach the normal retirement age of 65 and become eligible for the Commission retirement pension scheme. A table illustrates the average costs for an A4/2[11] official and a C1/2 on the scheme and the average cost of a new A7 official and a new B5 official. The termination of service of 600 officials from the Commission will enable 182 A7 officials and 91 B5 officials to be recruited.

  13.11  Another table shows the number of departures in 2002, 2003 and 2004, the annual budget cost of an official in active employment, the annual budget cost of an official whose service is terminated, the annual savings arising from termination and the period for which the allowance is payable before the pension scheme takes over.

  13.12  The scheme proposed for the Council General Secretariat will involve 94 officials, including 34 in Category A and 44 in Category C. The savings generated will fund 46 new recruits including 12 in Category A, 8 in Category B and 26 in Category C. From the European Parliament the departure of officials and 24 temporary staff will enable 47 new officials and 11 temporary staff to be recruited. The new recruits will include 18 in Category A, 15 in Category B and 25 in Category C.

The Government's view

  13.13  The Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) comments:

"These proposals can be seen as part of a wider package of reforms to improve resource management in the European institutions, and the Commission in particular. A limited number of staff will be able to take advantage of a scheme which will streamline the institutions and provide a budget for the recruitment of people with skills that are in short supply amongst current personnel. The Government strongly supports the reform process, which will result in institutions which are more efficient and transparent, with more effective resource management."


  13.14  We welcome this initiative to ensure that the skills of the Commission staff more closely fit the tasks they are required to carry out. The terms offered need to be generous if there is to be an incentive for staff to enter the scheme. We make no comment on the details of the schemes proposed but we are concerned at the impact of the reduction in numbers on effectiveness of the Commission's external actions work in particular.

  13.15  The International Development Committee, in its Report on The effectiveness of the reforms of European development assistance[12], says that the Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short) and the Department for International Development agreed that the Commission needs to increase its staff, and no longer believed that the issue of staffing was being used solely as an excuse for under-performance. The report also quotes evidence from Action Aid and BOND[13] that the staffing issue at the Commission is about appropriate skills and experience, as well as about adequate numbers.

  13.16  We understand that "deconcentration", in which more responsibility for the management of development projects is being devolved to the Delegations abroad, has proved financially more burdensome than anticipated. This has been due in part to difficulty in recruiting appropriately qualified people for Delegations. We hope that the measures proposed in these documents will assist this area of the Commission's work to be better staffed and managed.

  13.17  Elsewhere in our Report[14], we comment on the needs of the Institutions for qualified linguists after EU enlargement. We hope that the measures proposed here will assist the recruitment of sufficient interpreters and translators.

  13.18  At the same time, we believe that the Commission could be more cost-effective. It continues to produce papers which could be more concise and less repetitive. For our purposes, the balance between practical proposals and arguments, accompanied by lengthy detailed background, is still not always well judged, though there has been an improvement and we do get some admirably succinct papers. We suspect that a substantial percentage of the target readership would say the same. It will be even more important after enlargement to ensure that staff are invariably employed productively and translation resources are used to best advantage.

  13.19  We now clear the document.


9  (21070) and (21071); see HC 23-xiv (1999-2000), paragraph 8 (12 April 2000). Back

10  The Language Service Back

11  Equivalent to a Counsellor in the Diplomatic Service. Back

12  Second Report of Session 2001-02, HC 417 - I, paragraphs 50 - 53. Back

13  British Overseas NGOs for Development  Back

14  (23354) 7175/02; see paragraph 3 of this Report. Back

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