I met Ludwig Schubert in the 1970s in the midst of the economic crisis of the first oil shock and its consequences on the nascent European Public Service, as a young Parisian, a trade unionist civil servant working far from Brussels, at the JRC in Ispra in Italy and then in Petten in the Netherlands. He was my “master” and my “mentor” on the major statutory issues dealt with jointly, most often side by side.
Ludwig has always successfully combined, with a lot of effort, sacrifice and work, his brilliant career as a leading economist in DG II (now ECFIN – Economic and Financial Affairs) with an activity as a staff representative.
Ludwig excelled in designing and negotiating the Staff Regulations of Officials and Other Servants of the EU and particularly on his favourite dossiers such as the famous Method for the Adjustment of Remuneration and Pensions which he designed in 1972; the principles and management of the current pension scheme, as well as the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS). In order to act at the highest level, he has several times, always simultaneously with his high-ranking professional commitment, assumed leading functions in staff representation.
Politically committed, perfectly bilingual DE-FR, a European from the outset, Ludwig was also a man of the field convinced of the importance of social dialogue to defend the European Public Service (EPS) without sparing any effort.
Ludwig left us dozens of fundamental articles that will serve as a guide for future generations and which testify to his perfect mastery of the subjects dealt with, as well as to his extraordinary political foresight.
Ludwig had the strength and wisdom, as young people say today. He was convinced of the validity of his commitment to defend what he deeply believed in: European Public Service and Europe.
Ludwig, through his in-depth knowledge and excellent preparation as well as his broad general knowledge, was credible and convincing with arguments that hit the nail on the head.
He acted with humanity and even a certain humility, respecting people and taking their opinions into account. He had great foresight about priorities and the chances of achieving the goals he had set himself. Rigorous and precise, he could not tolerate approximation. He had a remarkable sense of fair and motivated compromise. Diplomatic, respected and respectful of democracy for the general interest well understood, when he came across arrogant incompetence, he did not hesitate to publicly defend it, whatever the level of his interlocutor.
He had a keen sense of the balance of power to be established with the “employer counterpart”, as he put it. He knew how to launch and organise actions, but also how to stop them at the right moment when negotiation was obvious. Wasn’t one of his favourite expressions: “The Council is a steam engine that runs on pressure”. ?
He never hesitated to commit himself on the front line in the field, where he was never there to appear, but out of conviction and above all always in the general interest.
Over the last fifty years or so, apart from his important professional contribution as a senior civil servant, particularly in the economic and monetary field with the euro, Ludwig has done more than any other transition manager in the EU institutions to ensure that the PES is and remains an efficient central administration that is indispensable to the pursuit of European integration.
Ludwig had plans for the future in view of the next European elections in May 2019 and he encouraged all his friends to commit themselves to them too.
Until the end of his life, Ludwig was active and committed, even within AIACE, once he retired. The many who knew him will miss him as an extraordinary man and for some as a very dear friend.
Until Ludwig’s last days, the last hours of December 28th, Eliane, Erik, Raffaella, his son Erik and myself were convinced that this was just another obstacle that he was going to overcome in order to come back among us more determined than ever.
Many believed that he was unalterable … come on … eternal.
No one will soon forget him.
Pierre Blanchard – Speech pronounced on the 7th of January 2019 in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
Dear comrades, dear colleagues,
I learned, with great sadness, that our comrade and friend Ludwig has passed away.
The three sentences I read in the AIACE communiqué are an excellent summary of Ludwig’s merits:
“Ludwig was throughout his life a convinced European and an outstanding trade unionist.
During his long career at the Commission’s DG II (now ECFIN) and in the service of Union Syndicale first, then AIACE, he fought to demonstrate that the staff of the European institutions are the major asset for the achievement of the Union’s political goals. We owe him, in particular, the Method for adapting our salaries and pensions, which is now incorporated in the Staff Regulations”.
It is difficult to say more without saying less.
First of all, Ludwig was my mentor, not the only one, the other being Franco Giuffrida. I took office in the Council of the EU on 1 November 1979. Shortly afterwards, a short-lived pay dispute was triggered and immediately resolved. A year later, the Council terminated the second Method for adjusting pay, devised by Ludwig.
The Board took six months of action in 1981 to obtain a new Method. Ludwig was the intellectual father of all the Methods; Franco Giuffrida was rather the negotiator and political father of the new 1981 Method.
Whereas in the 1960s and 1970s it was the Commission, inspired by Ludwig, that spearheaded all the trade union struggles, since 1981 the staff of the Council have been the spearhead.
What always struck me was Ludwig’s dynamism, strength of conviction and sincere and genuine trade unionism.
When I met him, he was still head of division. Later he was promoted to the rank of Director and finally to the rank of Director General. But he has always remained the same. He never made a secret of his commitment and his trade union sympathies. To his comrades, he was always ready to discuss on an equal footing, but to the “underlings” of the Council’s Staff Regulations Group, he felt and expressed total contempt, all the more so because, because of his extraordinary qualifications, he felt superior to these unqualified representatives of the Member States, whom he considered to be refractory and, in the extreme, reactionary, whereas, for him, the Commission represented the real Europe, true democracy, progress and the future.
His trade union commitment never diminished. After retirement, he continued the fight at AIACE.
His merits are enormous and indisputable.
I will miss Ludwig very much and I am far from being the only one.
Ludwig, I thank you sincerely and infinitely.
Günther Lorenz, Honorary President of USB