The European Commission has found the right cure but…

Brussels, 2 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The European Commission has found the right cure but its staff now needs to be best equipped to administer the treatment

“Always doing more with less” is no longer an option!

Ref.: Our previous communications
27.05.2020 THE MOMENT OF TRUTH: More than ever, the European Commission needs to be ambitious and surprise EU citizens
06.05.2020 R&D demands the European Commission shape the European Union of tomorrow and not let (once again) millions of citizens down
21.04.2020 R&D’s plea for the European Commission to be back as the true engine of European Integration and to play a pivotal role in this crisis
31.03.2020 During this time of health and economic emergency, R&D is cal­ling the European Commission to be back as the true engine of European Integration and to play a key role in this crisis

Dear President von der Leyen,

In our four previous communications, R&D federal, the largest trade union representing the staff of the EU Institutions, Executive and Decentralized Agencies and other EU Bodies, has called upon you and the College to take bold measures to fight the worst economic and health crisis since 1929.

Over the past few weeks, we received countless messages from our colleagues encouraging us to act as true watchdogs during this delicate phase.

Overall, the two-fold response you and the College have put on the European Council’s table on 19th June, based on the Next Generation EU and a reinforced long-term budget, goes in the direction R&D federal has pledged since the outbreak of the pandemic.  

This is the first time that the EU has the chance to play such an important role for the entire continent!

There is no denying that the European Commission’s proposed coronavirus recovery fund is significant, both economically and politically.

In the past, European citizens were made to believe that the technocratic nature of European integration meant that the bloc lacked a history of standing together when it counted most. The aftermath of the 2008 crisis was marked by mutual distrust and disappointment.

This time it is different. What is on the table now helps build a joint track record for unity.

Next Generation EU – blending a mix of both grants and loans – is the innovative financial tool that all external stakeholders were expecting.

With a proposed amount of € 750 billion, this instrument will, together with the SURE, the ESM Pandemic Crisis Support, and the EIB Guarantee for Worker and Businesses (amounting to € 540 billion) kick-off the U-turn recovery our economists’ taskforce has deemed necessary for months.

Although we still believe that the scars of this pandemic will last longer than most analysts think and that, as such, deploying the instrument only during the 2021-2024 period will not be enough, once Next Generation EU is adopted, EU citizens will finally see the tangible results of EU solidarity.

As far as the reinforced long-term budget is concerned, we appreciate the challenges you and the College have faced when reviewing it.

We look forward to fruitful discussions at the Council on 17th and 18th July on the Commission’s proposal.

However, now that the Commission has identified the right cure to get out of the depression, staff must be given the best conditions to administer the treatment.

However, the streamlining of Heading 7 related to the administrative expenditures led us to believe that the basic principle “Never let a good crisis go to waste” is not applied at all.

“Always doing more with less” is no longer an option !

As the Court of Auditors acknowledged in its report on the budgetary impact of the 2004 and 2014 reforms, staff have already had to suffer more than considerable sacrifices, which, as reported by staff representatives, have undermined working condi­tions and called into question the attractiveness of our civil service. This conclusion had to be acknowledged by the Commission in its Communication in 2018 about the Attractiveness of the European Civil Service.

Under these circumstances, it is not reasonable to imagine that, given the possible reduction in the financial resources available under Heading 7 in the context of the forthcoming MFF and in the light of the additional tasks which will be entrusted to EU institutions, these latter can once again call on its staff to “always do more with less”.

Such unawareness of the actual situation in the services, neglecting to acknowledge the reductions in staffing already realised, leads to the adoption of positions totally disconnected from reality. In fact this attitude is insulting to staff, pretending to obtain totally unrealistic productivity gains in the future.

The best example of this inacceptable approach is the unrealistic “efficiency gains” up 50% (sic!) proposed by DG BUDG to the Executive Agencies…

Executive agencies will play a major role in the implementation the Innovation Fund, the strands of Horizon Europe linked to energy and environment, LIFE, and many other programmes that will contribute to the Euro­pean Green Deal as well as implementing programmes that should boost innovation and the digital transformation of the EU so­cieties and economy.

While being entrusted with new tasks without making available the necessary additional resources, DG BUDG has already as­ked the Directors of the Agencies to obtain productivity gains of up to 50 %!

In this respect, we support the very firm and duly motivated reaction of the Directors and the staff representatives of the execu­tive agencies underlining that the “productivity gains” requested by DG BUDG are not justified, not based on evidence, largely overestimated and would jeopardise the quality of the work undertaken by the EAs.

Such unrealistic requests would put an even higher burden on the Agencies’ staff who are already delivering the maximum after the implementation of all possible efficiency measures and measures for productivity gains.

This example perfectly illustrates that the slogan “always doing more with less”  is no longer an option, as this approach has already been more than fully implemented and the limit has already been more than fully reached.

Throughout its history, R&D federal has always acted constructively, the COVID-19 pandemic leaflets being one of these examples.

However, this constructive approach should not be mistaken as a kowtowing attitude: we intend to continue to tena­ciously defend the interests of the staff of the EU Institutions, Executive and Decentralized Agencies and other EU Bod­ies.

This is why R&D federal is:

· Calling on you and the College to work tirelessly with the European Council and the European Parliament to conclude an ambitious and swift outcome to the newly tabled 2021-2027 MFF proposal;

· Calling on you and the College to defend EU staff, standing firmly for a realistic proposal of Heading 7.

On behalf of R&D FEDERAL,

Cristiano Sebastiani, R&D Commission, Executive and Decentralised agencies, other EU bodies

Beatrice Postiglione, R&D Council

Pasquale Ciuffreda, R&D European Parliament

Oren Wolff, R&D EEAS

Dimitrios Katsanidis, R&D CoR and EESC 

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