In its discussion paper on the future of EU finances, the European Commission sends a fairly positive message:
Finally, the successful implementation of EU policies presupposes a solid, high-performing European civil service. Since 2013, the EU institutions have kept their commitment to reducing staff numbers, despite the addition of new responsibilities, for example in managing the refugee crisis or security threats, or in EU delegations abroad. The future EU budget should therefore include the necessary provisions for a strong European civil service, one that attracts talented young people from across the Union and is able to make progress on the priorities identified as a result of this reflection. Decisions on future policies and instruments should take into account the impact on human resources.
Further downsizing could jeopardize the smooth running of EU institutions. Previous reforms have cut salaries, extended working hours and raised the retirement age. Clearly, joining EU institutions is becoming less and less attractive to young people from member states with relatively high per capita incomes. Working conditions may be only one factor in such decisions, but the trend is clear.
The intentions are good. It remains to be hoped that member states will accept this argument. At any rate, it’s a more promising start than when Budget Commissioner Lewandowski announced a sharp rise in the MFF, but specified (to compensate) that it would be accompanied by drastic cuts in the privileges of European civil servants.