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How to defend the purchasing power of colleagues working in Luxembourg ?

With the same qualifications and grades, colleagues working in the European institutions in Luxembourg have less purchasing power than their colleagues in Brussels. The following proposals have been made to the various trade unions in Luxembourg to improve the situation, taking into account the different positions involved.

To the staff of all the European Institutions based in Luxembourg.
To the members of the staff committees of the European institutions and the leaders of the European civil service trade unions.

For many years, colleagues working in the European institutions based in Luxembourg with the same qualifications and grades have had less purchasing power than their counterparts in Brussels.

They receive the same remuneration as their colleagues in Brussels, while the cost of living in the Grand Duchy, whether it be housing or health care, is much higher. This situation was also recognised in the conclusions of a study commissioned by the European Commission.

Faced with this persistent injustice, which undermines efforts to improve the “attractiveness of Luxembourg”, we believe that the time has come to join forces to put forward common demands aimed at improving the living conditions of the European Union’s staff in Luxembourg in the short term.

Unfortunately, the budgetary possibilities are extremely limited at the moment, given the reduction of 2.5 billion in heading 7 of the EU budget at the initiative of the European Commission at the beginning of its mandate and the failure of the Commission to obtain an additional 1.9 billion in the mid-term review of the European budget.

On the other hand, we have room for manoeuvre in the future. The direction of the next multiannual financial framework is already being decided. It is essential that the resources needed to maintain the living standards of our colleagues are included in the administrative expenditure framework for the coming years.

We must get our institutions to support this idea.

We therefore call on the leaders of the trade unions and staff committees of all the institutions to meet in Luxembourg for a first round of discussions to finalise a common platform of demands to be presented to our authorities.

As a basis for discussion, we are already proposing the following measures which, without changing the Staff Regulations, will make it possible to improve significantly the standard of living of our colleagues in Luxembourg in the next multiannual financial framework :

  1. The introduction of a single housing allowance for all colleagues concerned to compensate for the high cost of housing in Luxembourg;
  2. The development of specific measures to offset the very high cost of health care in the Grand Duchy;
  3. An action plan to enable contract staff to improve their professional situation through a policy of upgrading and access to temporary posts and internal competitions for permanent posts.

It is up to the staff themselves to take up these demands and, if they want to improve their situation, to demand the unity of all trade union forces to achieve them.

A reform of the Staff Regulations, as is sometimes proposed, can only lead to a deterioration in the working conditions of the entire public service. Only united demands, such as those we are proposing here, will make it possible to improve things.

Luxembourg location, enough is enough: the institutions must face up to their responsibilities

Staff working for the European institutions in Luxembourg are penalised by the higher cost of living in Luxembourg, even though they are paid the same as staff in Brussels. Everyone agrees on this, but none of the institutions is doing anything about it. All the trade unions deplore this attitude and call on the institutions to take action. It would have been better if all the unions in all the institutions had spoken with one voice. The time has come (see article on Budget 2024). An additional budget is currently being discussed by the Parliament, the Commission and the Council. If the Commission’s proposal for an additional one and a half billion euros for heading 7 (operating budget) is accepted, the situation for staff in Luxembourg could change for the better.

Any adults in the room? Stop fooling us!

 United Front Communication

As we all know:

  • The salaries in Luxembourg are the same as in Brussels, this is enshrined in article 64 of the Staff Regulations
  • The accumulated purchasing power gap between these two worksites started to build decades ago (1). It is today probably close to or even above 20%. The salary adaptation in December, negative for some colleagues and close to zero for most despite high inflation contributes even further.
  • The main element affecting Luxembourg-based staff, beyond this purchasing power gap, is the relatively higher cost of living in Luxembourg mainly (but not only) linked to accommodation costs. Let’s also mention the excessive medical costs.
  • The institutions based in Luxembourg, after more than 20 years of gap building, finally issued in 2022 a plan of 12 actions (2) to enhance the attractiveness of Luxembourg as a place to live and work.
  • The situation in the Commission services is dear: chronic understaffing, rising numbers of empty posts, rising usage of Contract and Temporary Agents vs decreasing numbers of Officials, rising usage of private service providers, who may or may not fulfil the requirements and overall, a diminishing number of posts being effectively attached to Luxembourg.
  • For Luxembourg-based colleagues, there is an increasing proportion of them commuting across the border and also an increasing proportion of them taking any opportunity to get another job elsewhere. Incapacity to attract or retain staff and growing issues with delivering the tasks are facts.
  • The trendy ‘geographical balance’ across sites that the Commission wishes to reach is locally getting further and further away. Indeed, the proportion of some nationalities is growing while other nationalities are locally close to extinction.
  • Last but not least, for the colleagues who are lower on the salary scales: minimum-national-salary-compensation mechanisms exist in various Luxembourg-based EU institutions. Each institution as its own and provide different compensations for the same situation. These compensation differences, let’s say for a given grade, are now even farther creating competition between institutions. Indeed, the Parliament decided to amend its own minimum-wage rule in summer 2023 to make it much more advantageous than before. The Commission compensation mechanism was also always the ‘least attractive’ one. It is even more so now.

For the last few years DG HR repeatedly stated they were working with other institutions on a housing allowance as an income-compensation mechanism. The claimed reason for not yet having implemented it was due, of course, to budget constraints. The latest information indicates that the housing allowance for Luxembourg is no longer even on the agenda. That decision has obviously been taken without any consultation with the trade Unions or your elected staff representation (Local or Central Staff Committee). This seems to be yet another example of the total lack of formal discussions (‘social dialogue’).

  • What will the Luxembourg-based institutions propose instead of a housing allowance?
  • Is the decision of not using a housing allowance or any other compensation mechanism (let alone the one for colleagues under the minimum national salary) again linked to budget constraints?
  • Is the decision to abandon a housing allowance just a way to again win a bit more time as our employer does not have any decent durable solution to the cost-of-living problem in Luxembourg?
  • Is our Commission College (like the previous ones) trying to avoid its responsibilities towards staff?

This looks like a crooked tango where partners (employer and employees) never look in the same direction and, of course, don’t really listen to each other. In a dysfunctional couple, at some stage one party must admit that it wants a divorce. The couple conciliation (the 12-action plan to enhance the attractiveness of the Luxembourg EU institutions as a place to work) was set up to fail. Why isn’t the Commission just admitting that the Luxembourg Commission site will close down? Do Commission staff in Luxembourg need to go to the street to be heard and considered?

The undersigned trade Unions and staff associations and, through them, their overarching Representative Unions Federations at Commission level call for an immediate Social Dialogue on the attractiveness of Luxembourg as a place to live and work and a dedicated meeting with Commissioner Hahn.

Movings at Luxembourg

Let’s discuss the moves that have been or will be made in Luxembourg and the underlying issues at stake.

Case study: 2 DG’s move to Mercier-Post:

Context: remember the facts highlighted in our leaflet of 11/3/2023: the hasty decision to house 2 DG’s in a building initially intended for a single DG, the imposition of the magic Open space/hot desking formula dear to the current Commission and its buildings policy summed up by one motto: cut costs.
It would appear that there was some competition as to which DG – OP or CNECT – would have which floor in the Mercier-Post building. We welcome its resolution, but we deplore the climate and the damaging precedent this has set in terms of the perception of the difference in value of each colleague or even in terms of “competition” between DGs to get what were perceived as the “best locations”.
How has this been beneficial?
To greater collegiality, to ‘healthy’ emulation? The staff of these 2 DGs are in the same boat. To have created a division/competition for millimetric and qualitative advantages was not only dishonest, but also counterproductive for their necessary long-term cooperation, given their cohabitation.

Secondly, it served above all to partially conceal the fact that the 2 DG’s were forced to accept less space than before. In fact, the 2 DG’s will be in the same ‘boat’ since in future they will be forced to live together in a building that can only accommodate 86% of their total staff at any one time.
In other words, open space/hot desking has to be ‘swallowed with the same bitter pill’ of joint and forced relocation.

Colleagues from the Publications Office have already moved.
CNECT colleagues will follow in September.

Let’s take a look at the experiences of OP colleagues already in the Mercier-Post building:

  • There’s a difference in the quality of the working environment depending on whether you’re sitting on the lobby side or the window side of an open-plan office. If you sit on the hall side, any passing colleagues can create a distraction. There are far fewer distractions for people sitting by the window.
  • Another dichotomy observed is that the inside is darker and cooler, while the outside is bright and warm in hot weather. The variation in brightness is due to the lamps hanging from the ceiling and/or the proximity of a window. A simple solution would be to install individual desk lamps. For the CNECT – it would be a good idea for colleagues to move their old desk lamps themselves. The advantage of this is that it costs the institution nothing.
  • The keyboard and mouse had to be moved by the people themselves.
    Moreover, all personal items must be placed on the desk in the morning and put away in the evening in the personal lockers, which can only hold a few items.
  • Each unit has a mini-meeting room for 2, 4 or 10 people! Given its small size, it’s going to be complicated to use. How do you organise meetings for an entire unit of 15 to 20 people?
    Are face-to-face unit meetings a thing of the past?
  • For the moment, there are still no rooms equipped for hybrid meetings (videoconferencing equipment, i.e. large screen, microphones, etc.). Given the tiny size of the mini-meeting rooms reserved for each unit, how do you go about organising a hybrid meeting?
  • On a positive note: if you need more space, you can have access to an individual locked cupboard, provided you ask permission from the OIL.
  • Do you want some “quiet time”?
    Each floor has meeting rooms for 2, 4 or 10 people.
    There are also a few small sound-proofed rooms called “quiet rooms” that can accommodate 1 or 2 people to work in silence or even organise a meeting or videoconference for 2 people on their own laptop.
  • “Where are our vending machines?” you might well ask yourself when working at Mercier-Post. For the time being, there are only two automatic coffee and hot water machines in the canteen, next to the only water fountain.
    When the canteen was announced to open on 28 August, we asked that it offer quality food and have sufficient capacity for the joint staff of the 2 DG’s, roughly 800 people.
  • Also, at the outset, the car park presented a signage problem at its entrance. Colleagues didn’t know how to get there by car. So, dear colleagues, analyse the building plans before driving to work to avoid any mishaps.
    Then, when the building is fully occupied by the 2 DG’s, it’s a safe bet that the 129 parking spaces announced (i.e. around 1 space for every 8 members of staff) will be woefully inadequate.
    For this reason, we are asking that sufficient parking spaces be provided for the CNECT and the OP:
  • Puis, lorsque le bâtiment sera entièrement occupé par les 2 DG’s, il est fort à parier que les 129 places de parking annoncées (soit environ 1 place pour 8 membres du personnel) seront largement insuffisantes.
    Pour cela, nous demandons de prévoir des places de parking suffisantes pour la CNECT et l’OP :
    • Provide at least 150 parking spaces for the CNECT DG in an additional private car park as mentioned by Mr Becquet at the General Meeting on 13 March.
    • Provide additional parking spaces for the OP in an additional private car park as mentioned by Mr Becquet at the General Meeting on 13 March.
    • The 48 additional spaces made available in the FISR building are not enough. Given that they will be taken up by colleagues attending training courses in the FISR building.

Why such requests?

Because we are starting from an initial situation where the majority of colleagues are cross-border, with a territorial dispersion that does not always allow for good public transport connections. And moving from one building to another means either an average journey time of half an hour longer, or the additional stress of finding a car park:

  1. Until June, the OP (around 700 colleagues) had 177 parking spaces, i.e. around 1 space for every 4 colleagues. All this while being close to the station. This means that despite the proximity of the station, there was still a clear need for parking for these colleagues.
  2. CNECT (around 200 colleagues) housed at the EUFO until September had 212 places, 27 of which were reserved, i.e. almost 1 place for each colleague.

Colleagues have built their daily lives around the need to travel by car (e.g. home close to a motorway; need to take children to school). This upsets the balance between their professional and private lives.

If we push the reasoning to the absurd, in the absence of car parks, what are you planning for cross-border workers, most of whom cannot even “dream” of accessing the Luxembourg property market?
Once again, would this be an opportunity to introduce the long-debated housing allowance? We explained the merits of this allowance in our leaflet of 03/12/2022.

Pay-and-display solutions with nearby car parks or Park & Ride facilities don’t help to contain the stress associated with mobility. Coming to work will become a daily ordeal.

Finally, limitations on meeting room space and parking will be a real headache when it comes to organising office meetings for extended teams.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation at Mercier-Post and will keep you posted!

Dear colleagues from the OP and the CNECT, don’t hesitate to let us know what you think.

Moving of DG CNECT

Mood of the day: we are outraged

Dear colleagues of the CNECT and OP Luxembourg, you are not alone !

At the end of February, you received the news: the new MERCIER-POST building – originally planned for the OP – will have to accommodate 2 DG’s. You, CNECT colleagues will have to leave the EUFO. You, colleagues from the OP will have to accept an open space/hot desk. Without any discussion.

There are about 200 colleagues in CNECT Luxembourg and about 700 colleagues in the OP, and no prior consultation has taken place!

We understand your indignation! We share it!

You are not alone in thinking that this way of acting is unacceptable, and it can give rise to concern, stress and many questions:

• Our colleagues from the OP have had to suffer the inconveniences of the station area for years, such as the lack of security (as reported in the local press), and have been able to accommodate the presence of the station for those who live far from the city. Will this accommodation mitigate the disadvantages of CNECT colleagues who may have different transport habits adapted to the Gasperich district?

•  After the initial plan to move DG CNECT to the Jean Monnet II (JMO II) when this building was completed at the same time as the other DGs, apparently in 2025, it was announced that the move to MERCIER-POST would be permanent, and without any prior social dialogue, as usual, alas!

• As for our colleagues from the OP, they have learned not only that DG CNECT is moving permanently, but also that the structure of the building will have to be changed to the magic formula of open space/hot desking, so dear to the current Commission and its buildings policy. As a result, it will be very difficult to reconcile the presence of two DGs in the new Mercier-Post building with the extremely limited parking spaces (apparently 1 space for 8 people), which will not allow staff living across the borders to use their cars.

• What about this expedient method of moving a DG, without any prior consultation of the staff and its representatives? Are we just a “contingent of pawns” to be moved from one place to another, according to hasty and random calculations of property rationing?

• What about the colleagues from DG ENER who also work in the EUFO building? Will they also have to expect to “bolt” when the OIB/OIL decides to do so, or will they have to deal with the presence of a larger DG?

• And finally, what will happen in the long term with EUFO, a building that is supposed to belong to the Commission?

Informally, some managers at the CNECT – in order to reassure their staff – refer them to training courses such as Staying secure in public areas – online given by the Belgian police in Brussels as part of the Council’s Sec Safe Days 2023.

Does this abrupt move foreshadow others of the same sort?

For how long will the budgetary restrictions that are the instruments of the current immobilisation policy prevail over the primary resource of the quality public service: us!

If you wish to react, please contact us at the functional box:


Election results – LSC Luxembourg 2022

Our program  Our candidates

Election results: We won 7.37% of the vote, thanks to our voters. This was a good result thanks to a strong grassroots campaign. This is the first time we have stood in our own name (as U4U, without a coalition) in Luxembourg.

You will be represented at the CLP in Luxembourg by Margarida BRITES NUNES, who is also vice-president of the Bureau, and Sérgio Filipe CARDOSO.

Full results

Housing allowance 

let’s negotiate the terms of a solution, let’s push the social dialogue

We see a housing allowance as a favourable option to meet some of the expectations of staff assigned to Luxembourg. 

U4U defends a housing allowance that would represent a fixed amount of about 650 EUR, for all colleagues living in Luxembourg, whether the house is rented or being purchased. 

The six foundations behind this proposal:

1. A solid basis

This proposal is based on a study carried out by the Commission itself, which indisputably establishes that the price of housing in Luxembourg is 50% higher than in Brussels.  The necessity of this allowance is no longer to be demonstrated, it is its implementation that must be negotiated.

2. Staff unity again and again

For U4U the unity of the staff is a major objective. In order to achieve our objectives we must fight together on common demands and not against each other. 

3. A solidary basis 

It should be noted that this same amount for the entire staff represents a different proportion of each person’s salary.  Thus, 650 euros in relation to an entry-level salary can represent up to 35% of this salary, whereas for a more senior colleague this same amount would represent less than 10% of his or her salary.  It should also be noted that since the tax is proportional, the final amount of the housing allowance will be lower for higher salaries.

4. At the negotiating table 

Following the results of the current elections to the staff committee, the U4U representatives will have a strong argument with this proposal.  Yes, we can discuss with the Administration the amount, the duration, a periodic adjustment, etc., because we are finally opening the way to a social agreement, here and now.  Our elected representatives are committed to doing so!

5. Protection of our acquired rights

Because the introduction of a new correction coefficient for Luxembourg has been promised by some as the only solution to the attractiveness of Luxembourg, no concrete steps have been taken so far to benefit the staff.

The lack of unity among the trade unions has not been beneficial to the staff. 

This new correction coefficient requires the opening up of the Staff Regulations, which would be detrimental to the staff in the current context.  Even if the Staff Regulations were opened up, would this new correction coefficient be guaranteed?  Of course not, and you know it! On the other hand, it would certainly be an opportunity to undermine acquired rights.  It is astonishing to see that this approach continues to be advanced.

6. Beyond slogans, let’s dare to think

We all like to read and hear what makes us happy right away, reassuringly tailor-made. You will certainly read and hear it.

In a fixed amount for all staff concerned as a housing allowance, there is a step forward, sustainability, credibility, a return to social dialogue, a benefit for all.


Call for candidates – LSC Elections 2022

The elections for the Commission’s Staff Committee in Luxembourg are approaching. The challenge is to offer a quality interlocutor vis-à-vis the Administration.

For us, U4U is a voice that stands out for its commitment to unity, each situation counts without any hierarchy other than that of the quality of the conditions of a public service able to support the European project that binds us.

It is important for us that U4U, on the strength of its development this year, can not only mark the debates so that our conditions here in Luxembourg evolve and that with this greater representativeness, U4U can then also push our concerns to the central level. It is to give this scope that the ten of us are presenting ourselves as U4U candidates.

So far, the Staff Committee cannot boast of significant progress on issues such as school buildings, recruitment both within the Institution and the European Schools, the scattering of offices over several sites and, as regards the cost of living, the overcharging of medical expenses, the housing allowances promised and so far never implemented. All these factors contribute greatly to the lack of attractiveness of Luxembourg.

We care about each of these issues. In addition, our program continues to be built as you read this message to enrich it with all your realities.

You have a role to play, seize it by joining us as a titular or substitute candidate, at your convenience. Each commitment in these elections makes a difference! It’s up to you, you can be:

  • a candidate on our list to expand it and give more weight to the vote,
  • a dynamic candidate with a message that you want to share (profession of faith, for which a model will be provided to guide you),
  • a candidate committed to possibly be elected as a future member of the Local Staff Committee.

Interested in talking with us? Please use the yes/no/maybe buttons in this email. We will soon organize a workshop “Actor of the electoral campaign, let’s talk about it!” to share our enthusiasm with you and clarify any questions you may have.

Annex : Draft CPCP position on attactiveness

Carmen B. (DGT), Carmen M. (ESTAT), Corina (DGT), Francisco (ESTAT), Jana (PMO), Kristina (OP), Magdalena (OP), Margarida (OP), Michael (ESTAT), Nathalie (CNECT)

Purchasing power disparities

Note to Commissioner Johannes HAHN – Purchasing power disparity in Luxembourg (Oct 2020)

The attractiveness of the Luxembourg site and the cost of living for EU staff assigned to the Grand Duchy

U4U proposes to relaunch the campaign on the attractiveness of the Luxembourg site and the purchasing power of colleagues in Luxembourg and in particular the question of a housing allowance for those living in the Grand Duchy. The Commission has financed a study on this issue, already a year ago, in order to take stock of this issue. Although this study concludes that there is a significant disadvantage to the cost of housing in Luxembourg, the Commission has not yet put forward a proposal on this issue. Therefore, our organisation, in association with others, would like to ask for a discussion with DG HR on the different options of this report.

What are the conclusions of the September 2019 report?

This study is in the context of Article 64 of the Staff Regulations, which implements the principle of purchasing power parity between the different places of employment of EU staff, the baseline (established at 100) being set in Brussels. However, Article 64 of the Staff Regulations provides:

‘No correction coefficient is applied in Belgium and Luxembourg, given the special reference role played by these places of employment as main and original seats of most of the institutions’.

The change in the cost of living in Brussels and Luxembourg is thus measured by a composite index, known as the joint index (Article 1 pt. 2 of Annex XI to the Staff Regulations) and calculated by Eurostat.

The studies carried out so far show very different results for measuring the cost of living in Brussels and Luxembourg respectively. These differences are the result of the methodology used.

Before submitting this report, it can be noted that, because of its size, Luxembourg has a significant share of the staff of the European Union residing in the border countries (Belgium (Arlon), Germany (Trier) and Thionville (France). One of the major difficulties of this analysis has been to compile statistical data on the cost of living in these three border areas.

The study has three strands: The first data collection, the second set out a methodology for comparing the data and the third proposes different options to answer the question of the cost of living in Luxembourg.

First of all, the report establishes the index for housing costs in Luxembourg at 152,4 (Brussels base: 100). It also concludes that this index is much lower for the three border areas where part of the staff of the EU institutions resides due to the cost of housing in Luxembourg. For example, it averages 70,9 for Arlon, Trier and Thionville.

The index for the cost of living (excluding accommodation) is 110 for Luxembourg (Brussels base: 100) and 90 on average for the three border areas mentioned above. Thus, the study considers that the cost of goods and services is broadly the same when comparing Brussels with Luxembourg by including border areas.

On the basis of these data, the study considers that there is a real difference in the cost of living between Brussels and Luxembourg, linked to housing. In a final section, the text considers different options to address this situation.

The text explores the possibility of creating a correction coefficient for Luxembourg. The text notes that the effect of this approach would be to accentuate the disparities among staff employed in Luxembourg. This option would be tantamount to granting a correction coefficient to a proportion of staff who do not reside in Luxembourg but in the border areas mentioned, where the average housing cost is 30 % lower than in Brussels. This situation stems from the fact that the weighting is linked to the place of employment and not to the place of residence. Furthermore, it should be noted that such an option requires a change in the legislation and in particular the provisions of Article 65 and Annex XI of the Staff Regulations; This can only be seen in a broader administrative and budgetary context.

The second option envisaged by the study would be to create a correction coefficient for Luxembourg and apply it only to staff actually residing in the Grand Duchy. In addition to the legal difficulties already set out, this option also does not seem feasible because the Staff Regulations do not provide for the exclusion from the application of the correction coefficient of part of the staff, on the basis of the place of residence.

The conclusions of the report favour a third solution which would be to grant an accommodation allowance to staff actually residing in the Grand Duchy. This allowance should reflect the difference in housing costs between Luxembourg and Brussels and should therefore be adjusted regularly. It would therefore not be allocated to staff residing in the three border areas, since the cost of living there is lower in Brussels.

The report envisages the possible characteristics of the housing allowance: Without time limit; With a time limit to be defined; Either fixed or phasing out (duration and rhythm). It also envisages the possibility of granting this allowance only to new recruits, irrespective of the form of the allowance. The text sets out, for each option, the pros and cons and for staff and the Commission. U4U is in favour of this solution, which is also supported by the unitary list we supported in the last staff elections.

However, the report does not address the legal aspects of this approach. For example, the most appropriate basis under the Staff Regulations for the introduction of such an allowance may already be considered, apart from the question of discrimination between staff at the same place of employment and not enjoying the same rights, on the basis of the place of residence.

Together with other trade union organisations, which presented themselves together at the staff elections in Luxembourg, U4U wishes to launch discussions on the conclusions of this report, with the aim of maintaining the attractiveness of the Luxembourg site in general and ensuring that the principle of parity of purchasing power between places of employment is respected. It is time to act.


EC Attractiveness

Attractiveness of the European Commission in Luxembourg, good practices without amending the Staff Regulations

The Commission has already partially tackled some issues in Luxembourg, for instance, the issue of contract agents being paid less than the minimum national wage while working in the EU, but housing, services, career progression, mobility and schooling continue to be issues for concern for EU staff posted in Luxembourg.

European Schools are tackling part of the issues on their side and we think this is a good practice.

During 2011-2012, the budget of the European Schools was cut drastically. Just like under the Kinnock Reform in 2004 for EU Staff, the Salaries of the Teachers in the European Schools had huge reductions applied to their pay. This was particularly dramatic in Luxembourg, where national teachers both in primary and secondary are very well remunerated.

Since then, it has become almost impossible to recruit mother-tongue teachers to come and work in Luxembourg. For example, German teachers were no longer willing to come to work here, because even with the expatriation allowance, they could not afford to work in Luxembourg. As an additional example, one ended up with several Estonian teachers being recruited as the main teacher in primary school classes, in the English section.

This problem was made worse in the past few years by the establishment of so-called Type II or ‘Accredited Schools’ in Luxembourg, fully funded by the Luxembourg Government. These schools paid salaries in line with those in the Luxembourg national education system, so many mother tongue teachers left the European Schools in Luxembourg, to work in these accredited Schools.

In the past few years, the various Parents Associations and also Interparents have been very active in trying to persuade the Board Of Governors and the Commissioner responsible for the European Schools (Mr. Oettinger), to do something about these problems.

Recently, they succeeded. The European Schools’ Board of Governors decided in April 2019 to introduce several proposals to make the Schools more attractive as an employer, from September 2019 (Source Doc. Ref.: 2019-01-D-56-en-3).

Among these proposals were the following:

“Where the difference between the monthly national emolument referred to in Article 49.2 and the basic salary referred to in Article 49.1 of these Service Regulations is lower than € 1.000 per month, the member of staff shall be entitled to a COMPENSATION ALLOWANCE up to € 1.000. This allowance shall warrant a minimum difference of € 1.000 between the monthly national emolument and the basic salary and a potential expatriation allowance as referred to in Article 56 of these Service Regulations.”

“Align the salary of locally recruited teachers to the one of competing national state schools.”

So, it was proposed to increase the salaries for locally recruited teachers in the two European Schools in Luxembourg by 12%.

These and other measures should reverse the alarming decline in the standards of the mother tongue teaching in the European Schools in Luxembourg and make the European Schools a more attractive employer, for teachers. This is a very positive step towards gaining attractiveness of the European Commission in Luxembourg. Unluckily, it is a step taken by a multilateral international organisation that is not the European Commission!

The European Schools are not the only international intergovernamental organisation increasing the pay of its staff in Luxembourg, recently, NATO agreed on an 18% raise of salary for its staff posted in Luxembourg. Mainly due to the cost of housing and services and to compensate the loss of purchase power.

The European Union, and in particular the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, the European Investment Bank, the Interinstitutional offices and agencies and the European Commission, shall introduce ‘attractiveness measures’ to make the EU working places in Luxembourg a more attractive employer, and to enable the EU Institutions to compete on an equal footing with the financial services and the IT industry here, as well as multinational companies like Amazon, with which EU staff have to compete with when looking for accommodation, schools and services?

The European Commission is probably not the best employer in Luxembourg amongst the EU Institutions. EU Staff in other institutions are also better off: they have better buildings, they work all together in one location or in very close locations, some on them have faster career progression, they internalise the contractual staff in a durable manner (drivers, guards…) , have local advantages and eat better food in their canteens. The Commission does not need to look far to find good practices.

For instance, a report by AIRINC for the European Commission published in September 2019 points to the establishment of a housing allowance for the new staff living posted in Luxembourg. The said reports reads, in its point 5.2.3. “applying a housing allowance or subsidy for all staff living in Luxembourg would ensure that the European Commission provides specific, targeted support to address the central factor influencing the cost disparity” and in its point 5.2.5 “Applying a housing allowance or subsidy only for new staff living in Luxembourg would ensure that the European Commission provides specific, targeted support to address the challenge of recruiting staff to the Luxembourg site.”

It seems the Commission has listened to the report proposal. We hope that concrete measures will follow very soon.

U4U Luxembourg calls the EU Institutions, and in particular the European Commission to urgently and imminently improve the attractiveness of its sites and locations, having in mind the efficiency and the working conditions of its officials and other agents. Luxembourg is the bigger working site after Brussels and the means put forward shall be up to the expectations of the Luxemburgish authorities, the staff and the European Union we all defend and serve.

Fight for our staff in Luxembourg Commissioner Hahn! : enhance their mobility possibilities, establish the housing allowance, ensure appropriate career progression, and reinforce the services!

U4U Luxembourg team


Cost of living in Lux – Report

This analysis, dated 26 September 2019, was commissioned by the European Commission from AIRINC. In fact, the OSPs echoed the difficulties relating to the attractiveness of the Luxembourg site and Commissioner Oettinger therefore undertook to check the cost of living situation in Luxembourg.

There is a perception among colleagues posted to Luxembourg about the level of the cost of living compared to Brussels. This perception is that the difference in the cost of living between the two European capitals is tending to increase. If this perception proves to be true, it could create difficulties for the attractiveness of the Luxembourg site. The Staff Regulations do not provide for a weighting for Luxembourg, but consider the two places of employment as the basis of 100 for calculating the parallelism of purchasing power between the places of employment of EU staff.

On the basis of the data collected by the consultant, it is possible to draw the following two conclusions:

  • The cost of housing index in Luxembourg is 152.4 (Brussels base: 100) and 70.9 on average for the three border areas (Arlon, Trier and Thionville) where a significant proportion of the staff of the EU institutions live.
  • The cost of living index (excluding housing) in Luxembourg is 110 (Brussels base: 100) and 90 on average for the three border areas, where a significant proportion of the staff of the EU institutions live. The study therefore considers that the cost of goods and services is comparable between Brussels and Luxembourg, including the border areas.

On the basis of this data, the report considers that there is a difference in the cost of living between Brussels and Luxembourg, linked to housing.

In conclusion, the report explores options for dealing with this situation. There are two de facto options.

The first is to create a weighting in favour of staff assigned to the European institutions in Luxembourg.

The consequence of this approach would be to accentuate the existing disparities among staff assigned to the Grand Duchy. In fact, it would be tantamount to granting a weighting to a proportion of staff assigned to the Grand Duchy who live in the border areas mentioned, where the cost of accommodation is on average 30% lower than in Brussels.

More importantly, it should be noted that such an option requires a revision of the Staff Regulations, article 64 of which explicitly states that no weighting applies in Luxembourg. Opening up the Staff Regulations would not stop there. In the current context, it would result in a worse deal for all the staff of the institutions, as has happened every time the Staff Regulations have been opened up.

An even less feasible variant of this option would be to apply the weighting only to staff assigned to Luxembourg and residing in the Grand Duchy, de facto excluding colleagues living in France, Belgium and Germany. This approach would call into question the weightings system, which is based on the place of employment and not on the place of residence; this would undoubtedly raise other legal issues and problems of equal treatment for staff posted outside Brussels.

The second approach would be to grant a housing allowance to staff resident in Luxembourg, excluding staff based in the three border areas. Such an allowance would have to reflect the differential in the cost of housing between Luxembourg and Brussels and would therefore have to be adjusted regularly. A question nevertheless arises as to the most appropriate statutory legal basis for introducing such an allowance.

In this context, U4U would like to favour the following approach:

  • We do not believe that a revision of the Staff Regulations is desirable at this time, because staff have too much to lose, including colleagues in Luxembourg. Consequently, the creation of a correction coefficient in Luxembourg, within the current legal framework, does not seem possible to us and this approach must therefore be discarded;
  • The approach of a housing allowance for colleagues in Luxembourg seems more promising;
  • Once the new multiannual budget framework for 2021-2027 has been adopted, it will be time to launch discussions on the basis of the financial resources decided for heading VII of the FRM;
  • Consultation between the Commission and the OSPs should focus on the budget envelope, the legal basis and the characteristics that such an allocation could have: no time limit; with a time limit to be defined; either fixed or with a phasing-out to be determined (duration and rhythm).