Brussels' top HR man backs Luxembourg for EU jobs
It is important that EU institutions can attract enough staff to Luxembourg, the bloc's highest HR executive said, providing a shot in the arm for the Grand Duchy's efforts to maintain its role as one of the bloc's capitals.
“It is always high on the agenda to have well-equipped and trained people,” Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner responsible for the bloc's human resources budget told the Luxembourg Times on the sidelines of an event, when asked about problems with attracting staff to the country.
EU institutions have struggled to attract staff to Luxembourg for years because workers receive the same salary in Luxembourg as they would in Brussels, where cost of living is cheaper, largely due to housing costs.
Hahn is involved in discussions between the Commission in Brussels and EU institutions in Luxembourg which have recently started to pick up pace, with regular meetings now taking place in the hope of finding a solution to the lack of interest in the jobs by the end of the year.
Luxembourg punches above its weight as an EU capital, hosting the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, the European Investment Bank and parts of the European Parliament and the Commission. All these institutions are facing reluctance of staff to move to Luxembourg for a job.
The European Court of Auditors described the problem as “palpable” in a recent letter to Hahn, saying some workers in low-grade jobs, such as administrative and IT staff, earn “below the level of the minimum salary in Luxembourg”.
Before being whisked away along with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel from a ceremony at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange to Strasbourg on Tuesday morning, Hahn confirmed the matter is an important concern.
“It is always an issue for us,” the Commissioner, who is responsible for the human resources budget, said. One of the options put on the table at the last meeting was the possibility of giving a housing allowance for new recruits on the lowest end of the salary grid, the Luxembourg Times has reported.
But sources were sceptic that a housing allowance would change the situation, mainly because the institutions are struggling to recruit specialised staff who earn more than entry-level salaries.
Recruitment at the EU’s new fraud-fighting agency, the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), which set up shop in Luxembourg last year, was reportedly blocked last month after the European Commission refused to release a €7.3 million recruitment funding.
EPPO confirmed an EUobserver report saying that the Commission was withholding the additional funding, but declined to comment on the reasons why. The funding was meant to hire specialised staff such as financial investigators, case analysts, clerks and legal experts.