As Yellow Vest protests spread across Europe in protest of high taxes and decreased quality of living, the European Union’s (E.U.) highest grade of civil servants will be paid more than €20,000 euros a month for the first time, after EU salaries and pensions were increased retroactively from July 1 this year. The increase means that President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk will earn about €32,700 euros a month, about €550 more than previously. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and Martin Selmayr, Secretary General of the Commission who is responsible for no-deal Brexit planning, will also get pay increases.
Salaries for EU officials in the commission are divided into sixteen grades. After each two years served in post, the salary steps up a grade for an increased base wage, not including allowances. The salary of EU commissioners will earn about €26,600 euros, about €400 more, including allowances. Directors-general of Commission departments on their third step will be paid a monthly basic income of more than €20,000 euros for the first time.
EU officials pay a lower European tax on their earnings than the higher rates of income tax in Belgium and Luxembourg.
The “Gilets Jaunes”, or “Yellow Vests”, began as an anti-tax protest in France but has evolved and coalesced people across the political left-right spectrum into a broader anti-government movement. The movement, which has spread beyond France to Belgium, Sweden, and the Netherlands has become so large that political experts are now calling it a “new revolution.” Unlike traditional protest movements, the Yellow Vests began online through petitions and was organised by ordinary working people posting videos on social media, without a leader, trade union, or political party behind it.