Will the coronavirus attack our pay?

Method, Special Report

The big question, in 2020, is, without a doubt, will the coronavirus crisis attack our pay ? Since 2014, the Staff Regulations no longer leave it to the institutions to determine whether or not there has been “a serious and sudden deterioration in the economic and social situation”. Instead, they set objective criteria for this.

The financial outlook, following the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, looks rather grim. For the first time in the history of the Union, the next update of remuneration and pensions, to be calculated over the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, is likely to be negative. This is in accordance with a Method (Annex XI to the Staff Regulations) which, since the 2014 Reform, leaves no room for manoeuvre to the institutions. The lack of discretion protects us from arbitrary attacks by Member States, like the ones we experienced between 2009 and 2013; in return, the figures calculated by Eurostat are undisputable and leave us no room for contestation.

The 2014 Reform introduced two safeguards which are automatically triggered in case the Union economy goes wrong, one excluding the other:

Article 10 – Moderation clause or Article 11 – Exception clause


Without indulging in forecasts of the evolution of the economic variables involved, we will be sketching out here the functioning of the mechanism under three different hypotheses. You will find all the hypotheses and information about how, in 2020, the coronavirus will attack our pay here.


(Global) Specific Indicator – Changes in the purchasing power of salaries of national civil servants in central government (calculated on a sample of 11 Member States), after deducting the respective country’s inflation.

GDP – Gross Domestic Product.

Joint Index – Changes in the cost of living in Belgium and Luxembourg, rate of inflation (or deflation).

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