From Union Formation to Collective Empowerment

From Union Formation to Collective Empowerment

Agora #91
20 - 22

Becoming a member of the US IUE Florence means no longer being a mere spectator to the changes that take place around us.

US IUE Florence’s Journey at the European University Institute

The EUI and US IUE Florence Florence

The European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, while neither an EU institution nor an agency, has been very closely tied to the EU since its inception in 1976. The EUI is an intergovernmental entity founded in 1972 by the six original members of the then European Communities.

A transnational hub of research and higher education dedicated to social sciences and humanities (Political and Social Sciences, Economics, Law, and History and Civilization), the EUI has over 1000 scholars, ca. 350 administrative staff members and ca. 170 faculty and over 100 other academic staff. It has doctoral, postdoctoral, master and executive education programmes in a community of scholars from over 60 countries.

The EUI is funded by the signatory states (mostly EU members but also others) and receives a significant part of its budget from the European Commission. The EUI Staff Regulations – thanks in large measure to numerous battles waged in the past by the US IUE Florence– have remained very closely tied (following the concept of “parallelism”) to those of the EU agencies and related bodies.

Reflecting the growth of the European Union, the Institute now has 23 contracting states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The Union at the EUI

The first union at the EUI was founded on 2 May 1977, as a branch linked to the Brussels division of the Union of European and International Civil Servants (SFEI) — so we are still under 50!

Thanks to the signature of a framework agreement in 1992, the Institute officially recognised the organisation as being representative of the administrative and academic staff. The right of association is also recognised under Article 24b (Title I) of the Statutory Rules for Administrative Staff. Later, following developments of the Unione Italiana del Lavoro (UIL) at Ispra, and upon joining the European Public Service Union (Union Syndicale), the US-IUE Florence (US IUE Florence) was established.

Today the US IUE Florence is the Institute’s only labour Union. In 2018, to reach compliance with legal requirements, the US IUE Florence association was founded. US IUE Florence defends the trade-union liberties of its affiliates, members of the EUI administrative and academic staff.

The US IUE Florence Executive Board, according to the statutory rules, is elected by the members for a three-year term.

The main purposes of the EUI Union are:
• to serve and defend the economic, social, professional and moral interests of its members and of the entire staff of the European University Institute;
• to share in the principles and objectives of the Union Syndicale Fédérale, the PSI, the ITUC, the ETUC, and the European Movement, in the sense of real solidarity with the European and international work world.

A process of consultation can be opened at any time at the request of either the EUI authorities or the union, on any issue of general interest relating to the Staff and the Staff Regulations. This process takes shape in the form of a joint working group or separate meetings with the EUI authorities (the President and the Secretary General). The Convention governs the founding of the EUI and in the last resort, issues of concern for the Union can be brought up for discussion and decision in the EUI High Council.

Being part of the Union Syndicale Fédérale represents an opportunity to share our experiences and build solidarity by participating in the meetings of the Federal Committee and the Congresses. The exchange of information and the possibility of driving battles together on common themes make us stronger. (In 2016 US IUE Florence hosted the members of the USF Federal Committee in Florence).

US IUE Florence: some of the battles and realities

Promotions in the early 2010

In 2011 EUI staff was outraged when 30% of the recommendations for promotions were blocked (promotion exercise 2010). The US IUE Florence initiated a formal action in 2012, which led to the ‘recovery’ of the 7 promotions denied, a commitment from the EUI to guarantee equality in career progression (Article 6 of the Staff Regulations), and the creation of a joint Working Group to reform the Evaluations and the Promotions processes – ensuring the independence of the two processes.

Reform of the Staff Regulations 2014

In 2014, a consultation process was launched in order to proceed to the reform of the Staff Regulations. The Union raised concerns on the introduction of negative elements, such as the blocking of careers, the introduction of 40 working hours and the abolition / reduction of travel expenses. After an agreement between the staff and the authorities of the EUI (signed on 30 June 2014), the final version of the Statute was approved by the EUI High Council in December 2014 and entered into force on 1 January 2015.

Current battles and issues

The union aims to be an actor in continuous social dialogue with EUI authorities, and to this end it meets on a monthly basis with the EUI Human Resources Service and collaborates closely with the Staff Committee.

The US IUE Florence Executive Board is currently composed by eleven elected members for a mandate of three years (March 2022-February 2025). Eight members are women and three men. We are particularly proud to have among our staff and members a representative in EPSU (under 35) Youth network since February 2024. In view of a next mandate, it is important to collect the interests and options of junior staff and to foster the next generation of union member community.

There are several issues that the US IUE Florence is currently working on, ranging from health care to working conditions, sustainability and digitalisation, but a key priority for the Executive Board is undoubtedly the creation of a shared capabilities environment aimed at shaping up a new generation of highly committed staff to guarantee the future of trade unions supporting EU civil servants. That is why great attention is devoted to communication: US IUE Florence issues a periodic newsletter distributed to its members to keep them updated on latest issues, and regularly posts news on its website.

We maintain a constant dialogue with Union members (with documentation, information on the EUI Statute, advice and support in the case of a complaint or appeal concerning the EUI Statute), also through agreements for expert legal assistance. US IUE Florence members are informed about union activities through ‘The Union Voice’, a newsletter distributed via email, and the Union web pages.

US IUE Florence Members

Currently there are 145 registered Union members among EUI administrative and academic staff. This number of US IUE Florence members represents a growth of 36% since 2018 (from 107 to 145).

Members of US-IUE Florence today are mostly administrative staff members but also academic staff members. Two members of the Executive Board are devoted to matters of concern for Academic staff who has a different Statute.

Becoming a member of the US IUE Florence means no longer being a mere spectator to the changes that take place around us, instead anticipating them and acting to be better informed and shape our collective future. Being a member of US IUE Florence means receiving assurances, accurate information, responses to concrete difficulties, personalised and legal assistance, and joining a community.


Agora 2016/#75, ‘The European University Institute : the experience of a reform of the Statute after that of the Institutions’ by Agnès Brouet, EUI Staff member and Former President US IUE Florence

EUI About – accessed on 10 Feb 2024

History of the EUI – accessed on 10 Feb 2024

Text by Robert Danziger, Member of the US IUE Florence Executive Board 2022-2025, Retired EUI Staff member and Former President US IUE Florence


Lotta Svantesson

About The Author

President of Union Syndicale – IUE Florence