Question for written answer Z000090/2015
to the European Central Bank
Rule 131
Alfred Sant (S&D)
Subject: ECB employment policy

From 2005 onwards, the number of ECB permanent staff positions has been all but frozen, despite a considerable increase in the tasks being assumed by the Bank.
What is the rationale for the current system, under which the Bank is relying on the employment of temporary agents, subject to a system of repetitive temporary contracts, which is reportedly creating instability in the working environment and undermining professional cohesion at the ECB?
Has the ECB conducted any assessment of the impact of its current employment policy, not least in the light of the ongoing expansion of its functions and responsibilities?
If a document exists that explicitly describes the ECB’s present and/or future employment policy, can it please be published alongside a reply to this question?

Reply by Mario Draghi – Frankfurt, 10 June 2015 L/MD/15/371

Honourable Member of the European Parliament, dear Mr Sant,

Thank you for your letter, which was passed on to me by Mr Roberto Gualtieri, Chairman of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, accompanied by a cover letter dated 5 May 2015.
The ECB’s headcount has grown considerably in recent years, in line with its increased responsibilities. Between 2005 and 2010 it grew by 4% and between 2010 and 2015 it grew by 15%. This does not include the increase related to the taking on of supervisory responsibilities in the context of the establishment of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). Taking into account the 1,073 positions created in 2014 for the purpose of the SSM, the overall headcount has nearly doubled over the past ten years.

In accordance with the ECB Conditions of Employment and Staff Rules (1) and in line with Directive 1999/70/EC on fixed-term work, if a position is permanently available the ECB always issues convertible contracts, i.e. contracts that become permanent after three years for staff or five years for managers, subject to organisational needs and performance. Considering that the ECB’s headcount increased by approximately 1,100 last year in the context of the establishment of the SSM, there are currently over 1,000 convertible contracts which can be converted into permanent contracts within two to four years.

Temporary contracts are, instead, issued if the underlying position is temporary (as is the case for a few positions linked to projects), or when the position is only temporarily vacant (e.g. because the permanent incumbent is temporally absent due to maternity, parental or unpaid leave).

In addition to these headcount positions, the ECB has financial resources at its disposal to cater for (i) the ESCB/IO programme, whereby staff from national central banks or supervision authorities as well as European and international organisations are temporarily seconded to the ECB (and become short-term ECB staff members) in order to increase the cooperation between the ECB and these organisations; (ii) traineeships and a graduate programme; (iii) temporary agency staff, to provide cover for temporary tasks and peaks in workload, etc.; and (iv) consultants, to support ECB activity on projects, mostly related to IT or premises.

This mix of staff and external support caters well for the ECB’s needs and allows for a degree of flexibility in managing the various demands placed on the institution, while allowing it to remain effective and efficient. The ECB’s Executive Board pays particular attention to the mix of staff and external support and undertakes every effort to ensure a balanced composition, namely by avoiding relying on temporary agency staff for long- term tasks.

Yours sincerely,
Mario Draghi


(1) The documents are available on the ECB’s website at

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