EPSO Competitions 2010: European values should truly be at the heart of the Institutions’ recruitment policy!

Many  of you have responded to our campaign of training for the new EPSO Competitive Examinations for EPSO 2010 and we would like to thank you for your confidence! It demonstrates your interest in the European Civil Service!

But can you imagine a hospital where the staff was recruited in the absence of any examination to verify their knowledge in the domains of medicine and health?

Or indeed, could you think of a country where judges work, sentence people, issue judgements with serious economic and administrative consequences, without anyone being able to verify their knowledge of the history of law?

R&D wants to draw your attention to the fact that the new system put in place by EPSO for the 2010 competitionsaims at replacing testing of knowledge by a test of  abstract reasoning.

EPSO is going to widen its series of cognitive aptitude tests by replacing the test of knowledge of the European Union by one of abstract reasoning.

According to EPSO, this approach would offer “many advantages” in leading to a fair and impartial test of candidates coming from the 27 Member States” and would be a tool which is “objective, trustworthy and fair, on which differences related to ethnic or cultural origin, to education or to gender have no bearing, and a good indicator of performance in the job”.

This approach raises a lot of worries: R&D is opposed to the simple-minded transposition of management and recruitment fashions from private enterprise. A public administration exists only to serve the public interest. It is thus illusory to want to transpose unmodified methods of recruitment, management and remuneration from private enterprise to a public administration.

The values of the European vision should be the basis of competitions organised by EPSO to recruit our future colleagues.

In this context, R&D congratulates EPSO for its commitment to return to multilingualism and to respect the native language of candidates in the next set of competitive examinations. Nevertheless, doubts remain about the ability to appreciate and apply the European values to which the staff of the Institutions are required to adhere.

Even so, good intentions are not enough, and the devil often hides in the detail of the implementation. It is therefore essential to remove the least risk, from the initial  competition advertisement, that a candidate might be favoured who lacks any knowledge nor interest in the origins, identity, culture, functioning or aims of the European Union.  There can be no question of recruiting candidates who have no competence in, knowledge of or passion for European history and values, and could work just well in a multinational company or at a merchant bank as in the Commission.

A specific and unique European Civil Service

R&D, whilst rejecting the learning by rote of names or dates in European history, is however of the opinion that the methods, tools and techniques for search and selection of staff should not be dissociated from the institutional environment they are addressing. The European Civil Service is specific and unique, and it would be inconceivable to apply the same recruitment principles to it as to a private profit-making company. (Not a problem of translation but do we really want to say this yet again?)

Besides, it is essential to avoid the risk that our image of the European Civil Servant gets a little more damaged in the eyes of public opinion. Defence of the dignity of the European Civil Service and of the building of Europe can only and ever work by the competence, independence and permanence of our staff. These guarantees can be assured uniquely through recruitment procedures which take account of European values.

Having said that, we need to avoid giving the impression that future competitive examinations will be characterised by too large a margin of discretion, putting the transparency of the procedures and fairness of candidates’ treatment into question. This refers particularly to implementation procedures and evaluation of certain tests – such as the test for judgement of situation (TJS) – which should absolutely take into account the abilities, talents and vocation that the Institution has a right to expect from its future Civil Servants.

Europe is above all an ideal which has a long history and should have a great future. What is at stake is fundamental: the future of a competent and permanent European Civil Service, and its capacity to defend itself from attacks which depend on it
R&D will be vigilent to make sure that these principles are duly taken into account in framing the new EPSO competitions at every stage and will not fail to denounce with the greatest determination any risk of drifting from the principles of the examinations’ organisation. What is at stake is fundamental: the future of a competent and permanent European Civil Service, and its capacity to defend itself from attacks which depend on it!

More detail or your opinion on the question?

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