The management of Commission staff, as current represents admit, is becoming increasingly opaque. Officials have already been affected by the Kinnock Reform, and the Reform has also worsened the conditions in which they work in Delegations. The setting up of a new European External Action Service could easily accomplish the work begun by Kinnock and destroy what colleagues have been patiently putting in place for decades. The aims of our R&D and ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 programme are:
• to ensure a transparent rotation system based on a logic of professional development. As for Contractual Agents, R&D and ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 calls for a staff representative to sit on the External Service’s Steering Committee
R&D and ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 aims to reform the system of rotation with a view to making it transparent and flexible, meeting colleagues’ needs, and enabling staff to assert their skills in relation to national diplomats. The procedure for rotation must be transparent and based on clear, objective criteria that are the same for everyone. This rotation management must be run jointly, and any decision to turn down a request must be justified.
• The European External Service will have new tasks to carry out, and must reach the same standard as the services of member states. To achieve this, a Commission training package must be established immediately – one that includes a mandatory training programme derived from the programme followed by national diplomats and adapted to individual requirements. ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 calls for the development of staff career prospects similar to those of national diplomats, and in a way that focuses in particular on a programme of diplomatic training, exchanges and language classes.
The CDR has claimed many victims in Delegations, and will continue to do so until the current situation for these colleagues is acknowledged. The CDR is a key element in the Commission’s human resource management, and can address both underperformance and access to higher categories and managerial roles. Because of the considerable distance from headquarters, and unwelcome mobility (rotation), these colleagues can find that their careers are disrupted, and that their rates of progression are much longer than average. The Commission must adopt a plan for harmonising career progressions between headquarters and Delegations.
• To improve working conditions, and the conditions for leaving and returning to headquarters for all colleagues and their families, and comprehensive application of Annex X of the Staff Regulations. The Commission must find greater consistency between the grades in the Staff Regulations and those in diplomatic services.
Inward and outward journeys between Delegations and headquarters are always difficult to manage. Officials returning to headquarters can sometimes find that they are not offered jobs that match their profiles and/or the experience that they built up in the Delegations. There is an urgent need to develop a career structure in which experience acquired in Delegations (including team management) also counts as a career bonus when the official returns to headquarters. The Commission must allocate jobs in a rational manner. R&D has been particularly vigilant over the reorganisation of the External Service announced amidst the summer torpor of July 2008 and during the extended siesta enjoyed by the Outside-the-Union Staff Committee. Individual cases have been managed satisfactorily thanks to work by a range of people, but staff representatives need to be involved before decisions are taken so as to ensure that interventions are fully effective. Furthermore, colleagues who opt to work for the Commission in Delegations must be accorded greater priority to family reunion, and more care must be given to their children’s schooling. Thanks to work by RELEX and R&D, the Commission now has a better understanding of the pace at which children learn and of their school curricula. R&D and ALTERNANCE aims to pursue this line, and to develop a core group of professional European diplomats who will be invited to manage Delegations under the new External Service.
• To set up a Standing group of officials who specialise in External Relations and the management of allowances with a view to ensuring the Commission’s stability and know-how in Delegations and the new External Service.
Nobody yet knows what the new External Service will be like, but we think it is essential for officials to be offered with the best facilities, given the competition that national diplomats will undoubtedly provide in order to open up posts of responsibility. European officials are not just “technical secretaries at the European what’s-its-name that can have more and more work piled onto them”, and who allow national detached officials to determine European public interest in areas of external policy. The European Civil Service plays a central role in designing European policy. The Commission’s staff policy must be consistent with the Institution’s mission, and be based on such factors as rotation, training, a career system, and the establishment of a new political European Administrative School (EAS).
• As for CAs, the management of leaseholds, annual journeys, school fees and other individual rights should be handed over to the PMO in order to achieve efficiency and economies of scale in the management of RELEX K’s administrative resources.
Thanks to action taken by R&D, the cost of annual trips is reimbursed on a flat-rate basis. This method should also be applied to accommodation in order to avoid administrative concerns and situations that are ridiculous and undignified for officials and their families.