STAFF REGULATION Title IV: Contract staff - Chapter 1 - General provisions - Article 79 (96): Contract staff shall be paid from the total appropriations for the purpose under the section of the budget relating to the institution.
Definition of Contract Agent: It is an official who does exactly the same task as a Fonctionnaire but for only half of the price. Not a coincidence that Contract staff is introduced in the staff regulation by article about money.
Introduced by the Kinnock Reform of 2004, Contract Agents are now an essential part of the European Institutions. It regularized quite a mess based on the status of parliamentary assistants. Without a standard format, non permanent officials used to be hired on very diverse and/or dubious conditions. Nowadays, to be hired as a Contract Agent, you need to pass a test EPSO and then your CV is put in a database for recruitment.
There are two types of Contract Agents. First, the lucky one, who works in agencies or in the External Services, is offered long-term employment. Their contracts can be renewed, and at the second renewal, they become permanent although not Fonctionnaires. The unlucky one gets a contract for a maximum of 3 years and then is kicked out. All contract agents working for the EC are on this status.
On one side you get officials who can't get fired, however bad they are and on the other side you got people that are offered limited job security.
The argument given by the EC is that Contract Agents are recruited for very specific tasks or tasks that are limited in time.
Let me tell you the truth: this is just a pack of lies! The main reason why Contract Agents are there is because the EC can't withdraw rights to officials. So they just created a second class of officials that cost half the price and don't get stuck forever in the job. I can give you hundreds of examples of posts that are permanent and that every three years you got some new Contract Agent hired to do the same tasks. Another hundreds of examples of a Contract Agent is doing the same tasks as a Fonctionnaire, some of the times much better, with the same qualification but with half of the salary.
The Unions are pretty angry on those subjects. Some says it violates sothis is just a pack of liesme of the European labor laws (on the use of successive temporary contracts and on equal qualifications+equals tasks=equal salaries). One of the unions has even hired a Jurist to write a report on the question and start a judicial action on the matter. As usual I don't knothis is just a pack of liesw if they are only barking or they will eventually bite on this one.
I really doubt that this issue will be resolved anytime soon, it is a really pity because you loose a large pool of talent every three years. Every three years, you need to hire somebody new (if you are in the specialized field, it can be quite a challenge), train him and not so long after let him go because he got a better opportunity in an Agency or outside the Commission.
My opinion is that the EC has implemented a very dubious strategy in trying to reduce costs. It is a shame that a group of colleagues are not entitled to their full rights, moreover it also has created an unpleasant atmosphere in the service. Some Fonctionnaires tends to forget that someone's administrative status is not a measure of his competencies.