What is a Eurocrat?

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  • Written By: Jason C. Chavis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2019
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A Eurocrat is someone who works as a bureaucrat in the European Civil Service in the European Union (EU). Generally, the term is considered to be a derogatory statement for the high-ranking officials in the government who are selected by the European Personnel Selection Office rather than elected by the constituency. Eurocrats are divided into different departments led by commissioners known as Directorates-General. One of the major criticisms that led to the adoption of the terminology is the fact that many of the departments overlap and vie for finite amounts of funding, causing many in Europe to suffer the consequences of budget cuts and changes in policy.

The bureaucracy in Europe is delineated with a series of grades, each defining the position of the Eurocrat. Within the different departments, people are either considered an assistant (AST) or administrator (AD). Those with the AD grade are the policymakers, while all those with AST grade are responsible for implementing the policy: providing secretarial duties, driving vehicles or sending messages. In addition, different levels, ranging from five to 16, were established to define a Eurocrat's ranking within the organization. For example, an AD5 is the lowest-ranking administrator, while the head of the department maintains a grade of AD16.


Anyone working as an Eurocrat is required to fit into the parameters established by the policies of the EU. Qualified applicants must speak at least two European languages, primarily English, French or German. They must be available for work 24 hours per day, seven days per week, while not exceeding 37.5 work hours per week. Eurocrats are considered employees of the EU, rather than an individual nation, thus they are taxed accordingly. Interestingly, the most prevalent nationality to be represented by the Eurocrats is the nation of Belgium, rather than the larger countries.

The European Civil Service was established in the early 1980s, giving way to the development of the Eurocrat system. During the early days, the system was largely influenced by Germany and Italy; however, France had the largest amount of power. Much of the derogatory terminology rose from French President Jacques Delors' chief of staff, Pascal Lamy. According to records from the time, Lamy was able to consolidate his power with the different departments and commissioners to such a level that many feared retaliation from his office if his policy was not enforced. He even garnered the nickname “Beast of the Berlaymont” in some circles.


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