Project Description

Overview of Contracts
in the EU Institutions

The current staffing situation in the EU institutions is critical. Human resources are increasingly using temporary and contractual staff, rather than recruiting officials after a competition.

Here are a few examples of figures:

In 2021, 13 officials were recruited through EPSO competitions and 10 through internal Council competitions, whereas in the same year 58 temporary agents were recruited through EPSO competitions and 12 through internal Council competitions.

The number of contractual agents working for the other institutions increased by 3.53% between 2018 and 2019. For the Agencies, Joint Undertakings and EIT, the increase over the same period was 8.31%.

Contractual agents (CA)

Temporary agents (TA)

The category of contractual agents was created in 2004 when the Staff Regulations were reformed, in order to support the administrative work of officials at a lower cost. Contractual agents are financed by administrative, operational and research budget lines. Articles 3a and 3b of the CEOS define the role of contractual agents and the functions they can perform.

Contractual staff referred to in Article 3a may be engaged, on a part-time or full-time basis, in a post not provided for in the establishment plan:

  • for the services of the institutions: to perform exclusively manual or administrative support tasks in function group I, i.e. menial tasks,
  • for representations and delegations, agencies and other Union bodies: to perform the duties referred to in Article 80(2) of the CEOS, in function groups I, II, III and IV.

Such staff shall have a contract which may be converted into a contract for an indefinite period after a first renewal for a fixed period.

The contract staff referred to in Article 3b shall be engaged:

  • to perform tasks other than those referred to in Article 3a(1)(a) of the CEOS in a post not provided for in the establishment plan, or
  • to replace an official or temporary staff member who is temporarily unable to perform his duties.

Contractual agents GF 2, 3, 4 are therefore occupied with one-off, time-limited tasks. These staff are engaged for short periods, from a minimum of 3 months to a maximum of 6 years. Article 80 of the CEOS establishes a correspondence between each function group (hereafter FG) and the tasks that can be performed by a CA.

The second category of staff recruited by the institutions is that of temporary staff:

The engagement of a member of the temporary staff referred to in Article 2(a) or Article 2(f) may be concluded for a fixed or indefinite period. The contract of such a member of staff engaged for a fixed period may be renewed only once for a fixed period. Any subsequent renewal of the contract shall be for an indefinite period. The engagement of a staff member referred to in Article 2(b) or (d) shall not exceed four years, but may be limited to any shorter period. His contract may be renewed only once for a period of not more than two years, provided that the possibility of renewal was provided for in the initial contract, within the limits laid down in that contract. On expiry of his contract, an agent may not occupy a permanent post in the institution unless he is appointed as an official in accordance with the Staff Regulations. An agent referred to in Article 2(c) may be engaged only for an indefinite period.

Seconded staff from Member States’ national diplomatic services may be engaged under Article 2(e) of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants to fill a permanent post in the EEAS on a temporary basis.

Until 30 June 2013, by way of derogation from Article 29, for recruitment from outside the institution, the EEAS shall recruit exclusively officials from the General Secretariat of the Council and the Commission and staff seconded from the diplomatic services of the Member States.

The contracts of temporary agents subject to the provisions of Article 2(a) of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants who are in service in an agency on 31 December 2013 are converted, without a selection procedure, into contracts under Article 2(f) of the Conditions of Employment.

What can be done to reverse this trend?

First of all, EPSO needs to organise more competitions on a more regular basis in order to be able to fill the permanent posts of officials which are filled by temporary agents due to the lack of EPSO reserve lists. It would also be appropriate to have a much higher number of successful candidates per competition.

In addition, the Institutions should organise internal competitions themselves, thus stabilising temporary agents who have been engaged on a permanent post and in whom the Institutions have invested training time. It is worth mentioning that in internal competitions only 5% of contractual agents can become officials in the AST category. The number of people recruited by internal competition is therefore too limited.

Furthermore, the budgetary authority responsible for setting the number of posts for officials must increase this figure when drawing up recruitment plans. As a reminder, contractual and temporary staff are not included in the establishment plan.

Finally, we should point out that the HR departments have abused the policy of outsourcing certain tasks through public contracts in order to subcontract services such as translation and, furthermore, to turn to precarious staff in order to limit their involvement over time and to make salary savings.

Isabelle Gossart

I am a communication assistant at the Staff Committee within the Council of the European Union, since September 2021. I studied translation but I have never worked in this sector. After my Master’s degree, I graduated in political science and international relations.  I have been working for 10 years at the Commission as a legislative coordinator and since 2010, mainly in the Council, in public procurement. In September I decided to start a three-year qualification course to become a photographer.

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