22 April 2016
By Helen CONEFREY
EU DELEGATION QUITO
"CUTS WITH PREDICTABILITY": what will they come up with next?
The new "package of measures" for the Education Allowance is irrefutably another blow to staff in Delegations,
USHU knows how important this issue is for Expatriate DEL staff and wants to hear from you
FMB: REP PERS OSP USHU
Statutory provisions under Annex X remain UNCHANGED but under these new measures "CO-FINANCING" for costs above this amount (top-up) will become NORMAL PRACTICE in the future.
These new measures are likely to adversely affect up to 15% of staff who through no fault of their own and in the interest of the service, happen to find themselves in third countries where Schooling costs are considerably higher than in other third countries (a parameter over which they clearly have NO control).
USHU has requested EEAS/COMM to provide forecasts of the potential financial impact / savings for the EEAS/COMM of this new package of measures. Such information is vital to better understand the scale of this issue and the appropriateness of these proposed measures.
EEAS/COMM claim that Education Allowance Type B has been given priority, yet many colleagues will all the same, be expected in the future to co-finance primary & secondary education in those Delegation countries where costs are high & international schools are few and far between.
Remember Type B is OBLIGATORY education in the Member States so under its duty of care, the EEAS/COMM should address its responsibilities to the full, hence the existence of Art 15 of the special provisions of Annex X ( Special and exceptional provisions applicable to Officials serving in a third country ).
With regard to Type A, it is now universally recognised that initial and pre-school education is paramount and contributes towards enhanced cognitive powers and greater learning capacities : clearly DEL staff with children of pre-school age want also to ensure the best possible education for their pre-primary children so whilst not obligatory, it is an undisputed fact that this level of education is of huge value and cuts to the type A allowance should equally be avoided.
CA MOBILITY DECISION/C(2014) 3296 final : all assignments for DEL CAs to Brussels are of a temporary nature and CAs will be OBLIGED to return to DEL therefore Art 15 is in principle, applicable for the full duration of any assignment to Brussels ( max 4 years in the COMM Decision) – USHU has requested EEAS/COMM to confirm this application.
"Recyclage" ; staff returning from Delegation to HQ have voiced their concerns over the new measures, several staff have already indicated that there is no automatic access to the European Schools given the often complex language entry requirements which do not cater for students who have come from different educational systems in third countries and do not dominate EU several languages to a sufficient degree.
Transition measures : the absolute minimum of 1 year is foreseen (slightly higher top-up reimbursement ceiling of 60% + max. 80%) - but what about those colleagues in an affected DEL who now wish to apply for early rotation/mobility as a result of this new Decision ? Those colleagues who have difficulty in confronting yet another economic burden that was not foreseen at the time of taking up their posting? Lower income colleagues : CAs & ASTs will once again bear the brunt and be disproportionately affected by these measures – no doubt about that !
COMM CAs in DEL have a normal posting period of 6 years, 33% longer than the normal period for Officials (4 years) therefore the impact of the new measures is potentially greater unless an early mobility can be granted and/or extended transition measures provided for Contract Agents affected by these measures.
Family composition : the current system does not cater for the complexities of larger families! Colleagues with more than one child of school age will clearly have higher levels of co-financing in absolute terms.
Single-parents & colleagues with larger families have already expressed their disagreement with these new measures. USHU advocates for further consideration of families in DEL with no declared additional income and several children of school age.
Most 3rd countries where EEAS/COMM staff serve do not permit spouses to have gainful employment ( as per accord de siege) therefore the burden of the "co-financing" cannot be mitigated by any additional income of the spouse.
ROTATION/ CA MOBILITY & Choice of country: Officials/TA/ CA must all have access to accurate information on the availability and costs of International Schools in each third country and in advance, in order to take informed decisions on where to apply and what to expect vis a vis reimbursements of top-ups.
USHU is in favour of smart savings not short-sighted, quick wins for Administration
at the expense of a few DEL staff (15%) scattered all over the globe, ill-equipped to defend themselves.
Even in the most "developed" countries, educational establishments are often severely limited in number & quality with
little/NO possibility to shop around for better and cheaper options.
More & More, EEAS/COMM working conditions are becoming Less & Less attractive
to colleagues with families and in Delegations.
Let's be really smart institutionally & ensure that EDUCATION is ring-fenced for our kids!
USHU Bureau Exécutive: Helen CONEFREY (President), Victoria DAVYDOVA (General Secretary), Siggi KRAHL (Political Secretary), Jordi CARRASCO-MUNOZ, Noel KAMDEN, Alessandro LIAMINE, Aminata ONGOIBA, Ugo SOKARI-GEORGES, Dimitrije STANKOVIC; Diego GONZALEZ MARIN (Vice President)
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