Le Lien The Link

Pour un syndicalisme européen, citoyen, participatif et unitaire
Building a new kind of staff representation based on participation, unity and defence of the European project

October 2014 – n°41


Content :

Version française  

• Editorial: the social dialogue at the Commission
• President Barroso: reading between the lines
• Continuity or change?
• The Juncker plan is good, but the New Deal 4 Europe, ECI is better!
• Exchanges of officials: time to move up a gear?
• European schools
• End-of-service: blocking of careers and possible developments
• U4U’s training actions
• Appeal for your support
• U4U at your service

Editorial: the social dialogue at the Commission

An unnecessary luxury, painful routine or means of mobilising staff for a renewal of the European project?

The social dialogue is included in the Lisbon Treaty. For a very long time, in its official policies, the European Commission has strongly supported the social dialogue. Mainly for two reasons: first, the social dialogue cuts the cost of labour disputes and, secondly, in countries where the social dialogue is intense, it is correlated with positive outcomes, such as the quality of jobs and the ongoing training of employees. In addition, a high-quality dialogue improves working conditions and, therefore, employee motivation.

Sometimes, however, there is a certain inconsistency, even a contradiction, between the way in which the Commission advocates a policy and how it implements it internally. This has led to some disillusionment among the parties to the social dialogue and a feeling that the situation is destined to remain deadlocked. The last reform of the Staff Regulations shows how an instrument that is in principle useful was in the end badly or under-used, to the extent that the trade unions have had to appeal against some aspects of the reform on the grounds of the absence of social dialogue. There is therefore a serious problem.

The agreement on the social dialogue at the Commission continues to fall short of expectations, in particular because it is used in a limited way by all participants. On the one hand, the Commissioner with responsibility for staff has failed to make the social dialogue a meaningful forum of exchanges structured by an agenda and debates on long-term polices. On the other hand, staff representatives very often consider it simply as an opportunity to criticise without succeeding in having concrete proposals adopted. This therefore strengthens the belief of colleagues that the unions, although they are useful, do not make a real contribution at “key moments”, during reforms, and that they are weak when it comes to defending staff. The social dialogue is therefore widely perceived as inefficient, with results out of synch with staff concerns.

Lastly, this social dialogue at the time of the reform of the Staff Regulations had become a crisis instrument, which was more likely to lead to confrontation than dialogue. It is noteworthy that other than at the time of reforms of the Staff Regulations, the social dialogue continues to be under-used, as if the institution had nothing to discuss and staff policy was not a policy but simply about “administration”. However, in order not to give a false impression, it must be conceded that the less “political” dialogue, i.e. that which is conducted within the joint committees with responsibility for various sectoral issues, works much better, for example, the recent promotions exercise resulted in numerous positive and fruitful meetings between the Directors-General and the staff representatives.

Can this deadlock be resolved? We need to get back to basics, in other words to the primary function of the social dialogue, which is to establish mutual understanding and provide a direction to all members of a complex organisation such as the Commission. A complex organisation divided into 80 services and several Member States and with a global presence, boasting an impressive range of nationalities, which has undergone major changes since 1980, must:

1) explain change to staff;
2) give a sense of community to the institution.

More specifically, the social dialogue:

  • Allows problems to be identified and new practical rules to de determined to resolve such issues (for example, regarding working time, staff mobility, etc.).
  • Allows upward communication and avoids an exclusively top-down decision-making approach, driven by a political agenda.
  • Avoids arbitrary measures imposed by political authorities. For example, is it in the Commission’s interests to organise promotion exercises without taking account of the opinions of the joint committees?
  • Allows above all a large number of members of the organisation to participate in drawing up new decisions, which obviously encourages the parties involved to adopt change. Above all, the capability and desire of employees to participate actively in shaping their career path must not be under-estimated. Rather than refusing to recognise or attempting to circumvent this obvious fact, it should be used as a driver for change.

Therefore, it would be appropriate to redefine a relevant social dialogue:

  • Direct consultation must not call into question the need of the unions to play an intermediary role.
  • But, in this case, the responsibilities of the parties to the social dialogue need to be re-defined: who is best placed to express in concrete terms the problems of the organisation? This involves empowering the staff representatives, giving them the means to act and not attempting to reduce their capacity to act. The same observation applies to the services with responsibility for this dialogue.
  • The social dialogue needs to be organised. Preparatory documents (in-depth studies, staff consultations and structured surveys, for example) are needed. The social dialogue needs to be given time but it also needs to be structured according to a precise agenda. Lastly, the social dialogue must be given the necessary means of evaluating measures adopted, in order to avoid gimmicks and political expediency and to construct solid long-term policies, taken up by the parties to the social dialogue.
  • Staff must be encouraged to engage in structured debates on important aspects of their work. Regular communication is also important to raise staff awareness of what the social dialogue represents in concrete terms and its purpose.
  • The social dialogue structures need to be adapted to the work environment. At the Commission, with its particularly complex organisation, the idea of conducting the social dialogue solely at central level between DG HR and the unions is unthinkable. The social dialogue must be organised wherever it is relevant, wherever specific problems need to be resolved by a specific dialogue. From this perspective, the social dialogue at the level of DGs and services must finally be promoted at the Commission.

If you are interested in sharing your opinion, please contact us at the following address: REP PERS OSP U4U


Letter to the appointed President of the Commission Mr J.-C. Juncker

Letter to the appointed High Representative Mrs F. Mogherini

Reading between the lines

The message addressed to staff by the outgoing President comes as a timely reminder that words are not enough. Everyone is entitled to pass judgement on the basis of the results achieved. President Barroso’s message "to his engine room” is interesting in that it seems to contain a “hidden” criticism of the first declarations of President Juncker.

It was during his meeting with staff on 2 October that President Barroso wrote a letter which summarises his record after 10 years as President of the Commission.

The core idea is that the Commission, in his opinion, has emerged stronger from his 10 years of Presidency.

- "A Union stronger both internally and internationally", "A more consistent Europe" thanks to the dual role of High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission and a presence "on all fronts" in response to the "strong resurgence of geopolitics" in our “Eastern” and “Mediterranean” neighbourhoods, in keeping with “international order";

- A Commission which has "confirmed its dynamism", has "fully exercised its right of initiative" and has seen "its powers strengthened";

This strengthening is apparently the result of the harnessing of resources and the good "use" made of them:

- A collegial governance in which "cooperation" and "consensus" were the rule;
- A "modern", "innovative" European budget, focused on growth and jobs";
- A "European engine room" which has "first-rate expertise in European policies" and a "creative legislative strategy" and whose workers are "professional" and "committed".

The recommendation made to his successor is therefore to rely on "these foundations" and "orientations" for "future advances".

But is not the proof of the pudding in the eating? If all that really needs to be done is to simply continue doing what has been (un)done, how can we hope to reduce unemployment, revitalise growth, create a better society, protect the social model and combat anti-Europeanism?

For its part, U4U has denounced the intergovernmental drift, the lack of ambition, an inadequate budget, staff cuts applied "blindly" and the deterioration of working conditions.

One might legitimately wonder why Mr Barroso chose to convey his message in this way – at a meeting with staff – while his terms of office have been characterised by the "destitution" of the social dialogue. Moreover, the substance is surprising: a list of his accomplishments, which does a bad job of concealing a warning to his successor, at a time when the latter has only just specified the priorities and broad approach of the future Commission by making public his mission letters to the Commissioners and by addressing staff.

Continuity or change? Initial analysis of texts and questions to President Juncker

President JUNCKER has addressed mission letters to the future Commissioners and a message to all staff. These initial messages to staff and the future members of the college announce "a new beginning" and, as such, are encouraging.

Greater "empowerment" for the Commission in order to produce more results for Europe and its citizens

First of all, we note that there is a certain continuity when he speaks of wanting to refocus on policy, better law-making and placing the emphasis on subsidiarity.

However, the tone and words used indicate clearly that he wants to assume his responsibilities and exercise his authority at the head of the European executive: "I want the Commission as a whole to be more than the sum of its parts. I therefore want my Presidency to be characterised by inclusion and the Commission to be organised in such a way that we can work closely together in order to achieve clear results – those that I set out in the Political Guidelines for the new Commission, on the basis of which the European Parliament elected me."

At the same time, as regards substance, he asserts that he has a political vision. The functional architecture of the new Commission and the way in which he has led the negotiations with the Member States suggest that he wants to distance himself from the previous intergovernmental drift, that he wants a more structured and more efficient collegiality, that he wants to restore the Commission’s prestige, but that above all he wants to "empower" the Commission.

With regard to the major challenges facing Europe, he uses the same words as his predecessor, but he has changed the meaning (and given meaning): "to address the difficult geo-political situation, to strengthen economic recovery and to build a Europe that delivers jobs and growth for its citizens."

The key to economic recovery is reviving Europe, and here the Commission "remains at the forefront". In his opinion, in order to succeed we need to share "a vision", "believe in Europe" and "believe that it can make the difference".

He calls for a general mobilisation and makes numerous references to consistency and "collective work"; he sees the Commission as "a close-knit team", in which "administrative divisions are set aside".

Knowledge and recognition of staff know-how and commitment.

When he says "I know", he is referring to his experience and knowledge of the European institutions, in particular the Commission: "I know that it is people, and not the posts filled, who ensure the smooth running of this institution and who make all the difference. I know that change represents a new challenge, and I hope that you will appreciate the exciting opportunities that it offers. I am aware of your commitment."

Beyond recognising the worth of the civil service, he places the emphasis on the diversity of the functions that make up the civil service and on recognising the skills of each and everyone in his or her "post".

"And I am deeply impressed by the quality of your work and the remarkable consistency demonstrated by you in carrying out your duties. I know that your commitment is critical in this regard. From chauffeurs to assistants, from administrators to the Secretary-General, including the heads of unit – at all levels, I have seen on what the reputation for excellence and the strong motivation which characterise the European civil service are based (…). I am counting on you and your experience and professionalism to help implement these changes and I am looking forward to working with you."

However, there are still some weaknesses (Achilles heel?) and questions concerning the mobilisation of resources:

European budget

President Juncker has wasted no time in declaring that he wants to identify funds that are immediately available via existing financial instruments in in order to mobilise the necessary funds to revive investment in the very short term. However, such funds will have to be repaid at some point in time by the private or public sector beneficiaries. This financial package is not an additional allocation for the Community budget.

However, as the European Parliament has emphasised on several occasions, in particular at the time of the discussions on the adoption of the multiannual financial framework: "The very survival of the European budget entails ending the reciprocal dependency which ties it to national budgets: that is what is behind the Parliament’s fight for a return to Community own resources" (Alain Lamassoure). This discussion was due to take place within the framework of the negotiations on the EU’s financial framework for the period 2014–2020, but opposition from numerous governments buried the debate.

We hope that the proposals for revision that the Commission is due to present in 2016 will help to achieve the twofold objective of a European budget with sufficient resources based on real own resources, guaranteeing the effectiveness of its actions, and the independence of the European institutions. This hope has, however, already been dampened with regard to the 2015 budget: the Member States have already proposed cuts to the Commission’s proposals, including in the priority areas.

Human resources

The approach outlined leads us to hope that a more modern staff policy will be put in place: career monitoring, talent screening, guaranteeing motivating career paths and upskilling.

The President has indicated that he wants to meet a large number of us; we believe that staff should in fact be involved in change, and even be agents for such change.

A responsible staff policy must maintain good working conditions, reduce disparities, and stop the blindly organised haemorrhaging of staff, which deprives the institution of strong capabilities, precious expertise and a necessary memory, and which endangers entire sectors of Community action.

Functional architecture/administrative architecture

An organisation based around strong priorities which transcend administrative divisions is an interesting approach, but it needs to be explained and validated. The staff of the institutions have experienced two reforms in ten years, their representatives have been marginalised and the social dialogue has been minimalised. We need to fill the vacuum created by the disappearance of the "cement" that unites staff and their political leaders.

Any re-organisation may require adjustments, but we cannot ignore the reasons behind these changes and the resultant cost-benefit analysis: the strangest and most incomprehensible change is that of the CCR, which is a research centre and which will be attached to the EAC.

"Change is easy, improvement is harder (GRASPE)". It is important to involve the staff in change management and therefore to break with the past, where changes were imposed on staff and not discussed and above all not understood.

The Juncker plan is good, but the "New Deal for Europe" initiative is better!

In an interview, Mrs Bernadette SEGOL, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), called on the EP to support President Juncker’s plan for the investment of 300 billion euros over three years at European level and to ensure that Mr Juncker delivers on his commitment. In terms purely of quantity, the Juncker plan is very similar to the "New Deal for Europe" ECI which also provides for a European investment plan of 300/400 billion euros over three years.

However, there is one significant difference between President Juncker’s plan and the "New Deal for Europe" ECI: the President’s proposal intends to finance the plan from existing resources, whether credits from the structural funds, funds raised via public/private or public/public partnerships, or loans from European lending institutions, in particular the EIB.

The main innovation would be an increase in the EIB’s capital. According to the interpretations published in the press, President Juncker intends to mobilise 80 billion euros from the unused resources of the structural funds, to which would be added 60 billion euros of securities issued on the market by the EIB. These 60 billion euros would help to generate private investment of up to 180 billion euros. The additional 40 billion euros could be raised from "project bonds" with private investors receiving an EIB guarantee.

This financing system has the same drawbacks as that of the "Growth and Jobs Pact" approved by the European Council in June 2012 for an amount of 120 billion euros and which is still very much at the drawing board stage. In addition there is some "reticence" on the part of the EIB when it comes to lending, because of its determination to protect its "triple A" rating.

At this stage, the Juncker plan makes no reference to the need to grant new resources to the European budget (even if it refers to the review in 2016 of the European multiannual financial framework for the period 2014–2020). On the other hand, the "New Deal for Europe" ECI provides for new own resources for the European budget: a financial transactions tax and/or a carbon tax. In more immediate terms, the necessary resources could be generated not only by "project bonds" at European level, but also by the creation of a new financing instrument for the eurozone, as recommended in the European Commission’s Communication of 28 November 2012 for genuine EMU.

It goes without saying that if the European initiative succeeds in winning the support of one million European citizens, this would give the Juncker plan a genuine base, and could help to sway the argument in favour of a true mobilisation of funds with positive outcomes in terms of growth and jobs.

Exchanges of officials: time to move up a gear?

Testimony of a colleague

Having had the opportunity to benefit from an exchange with a Spanish official during two years up to May 2014, I would like to discuss my experience – overall very positive – and reflect collectively on the system in place. Is it not time to move up a gear?

In my case, the exchange came about due to a combination of factors:

– my wish, after having worked for more than twenty years in five Directorates-General at the European Commission, to refresh my knowledge via an "experience in the field" without losing my European added value;

– my knowledge, thanks to contacts with DG Human Resources, of the legal framework governing exchanges of officials, which has very little visibility within the European Commission;

– an opportune meeting, in July 2011, with an official from the Spanish region of Aragon who had the "opposite wish", i.e. to learn about European work, after having worked for a long time in his region on national and European projects, and who was interested in a national expert opening in the unit where I worked;

– positive discussions with my line management, at three levels (Head of Unit, Director, Director-General) in order to consider the conversion of the "national expert" option into an exchange, after having verified the aptitudes and motivation of my Spanish counterpart;

– similar discussions at Spanish level including verifying the possibility for my colleague’s Director to pay him a bonus, which was a key element in facilitating an exchange between two officials, with each retaining his current salary, given that the cost of living is far higher in Brussels than in Spain;

– the support of both of our families, facilitated by the fact that the children of the two "Senior Erasmus" candidates were already very independent.

It took eleven months to prepare for the exchange. Overall, both my colleague and I consider that the exchange was positive. For my part, I learnt a lot from working in the field in areas where I was able to contribute true European added value and I think that I can now enable my colleagues and my line management to benefit from my new knowledge. On the Spanish side, the regional authorities were pleased to have the opportunity to draw on the services of a European official over a two-year period and to be able to welcome back at the end of that period a colleague who had enhanced his expertise at European level.

Why then do exchanges of officials at the European Commission continue to be fairly rare, especially as we invented ERASMUS and preach the added value of mobility in Europe? It is difficult to understand, even if there are several conceivable reasons for this situation:

– the exchanges require a win-win strategy which needs to be verified and developed: first, the two officials involved both have to be capable of making a useful contribution in their "new" position and, secondly, the respective line managements, which are generally not actively seeking to promote such mobility, need to have a positive perception of the exchange;

– a balance between salaries (which exists only "theoretically" at the current time in our system and is therefore not suited to all the Member States where the cost of living is lower than in Brussels);

– the wish of European officials to gain a better understanding of work in the field, which in my case was a fairly deep-rooted wish, but unfortunately that is not the case of all colleagues and, of course, a family situation that lends itself to such cross-mobility.

At a time where there is renewed focus on the growing divide between the European institutions and the "grassroots", which is a factor that drives Euroscepticism, as well as a certain "institutional fatigue" which can have an adverse effect on the motivation of European officials, why can we not dream of a new European Commission which would be guided by the policies that it promotes (mobility, lifelong learning and innovation) and would apply them vigorously to its human resources policy?

Why not design a policy which would consider that European officials should in principle participate in at least one exchange during their career, in particular in the case of officials recruited without prior experience at national level?

Why not develop an active policy of promoting exchanges and capitalising on the benefits of the resultant exchanges, at both national and regional levels?

I am more than willing to share my experiences with any interested colleagues as well as the Administration. This applies, of course, to all the European institutions, and not just the European Commission.

Innovation requires a significant modernisation of public administrations… let us set a good example!

European schools: did you know?

At the start of the new academic year, we thought that it would be worthwhile reminding readers about the role of the European schools. This useful reminder must not conceal the problems of these schools: insufficient number of such schools, their chronic over-subscription which results in almost half of the children of officials being allocated other schools, their non-existence in locations where the institutions have a strong presence, the reduction of educational choices, etc.

1. Definition

The European schools are schools organised on an intergovernmental basis and managed by the European Commission. They were founded 60 years ago pursuant to an international treaty (the Convention on European Schools). The original aim was to accommodate the children of European officials, but that aim has been expanded over time and at the present time they increasingly represent a framework for schooling based on an original concept. It is a sui generis system that implements a form of cooperation between the Member States and between them and the European Communities while complying fully with the responsibility of the Member States for the curriculum and the organisation of their educational system and their cultural and linguistic diversity.

The European schools offer a complete schooling cycle (kindergarten, primary and secondary) in the "mother" tongue of the children, but a large number of lessons are taught in a second language and children can opt for a 3rd or even a 4th language (among the languages of the European Union Member States). This curriculum leads to the European Baccalaureate. There are currently fifteen European schools and that number will very shortly be increased to nineteen.

2. Types of schools

There are:

  • The "type I" schools which are the European schools strictly speaking.
  • The "type II" schools which are national schools accredited by the Board of Governors of the European Schools and which are required to give priority to accommodating children whose parents work for the European institutions.
  • The "type III" schools are national schools accredited by the Board of Governors and which can accommodate children without distinction. The RheinMain European school is the first type III school.

Type II and III schools can enter their students for the European Baccalaureate, subject to compliance with quality criteria.

(see the list of schools in our previous edition)

3. Pupils

The European schools are intended in principle for the children of staff of the so-called "CATegory 1" European institutions or organisations. This category includes around 70% of pupils.

The children of the staff of other intergovernmental institutions (NATO, etc.) or private companies having concluded a special agreement may also be admitted (so-called CAT II; this category represents 10% of the student population). Other children (CAT III – approximately 20% of pupils) can also be admitted subject to the availability of places. This category pays school fees of around €3,000 a year, which is a modest amount compared with the corresponding fees at a French Lycée (often double) and a British School (often triple). The average real cost is around €12,000 per year per pupil.

The total number of pupils is around 25,000 (approximately 2,000 in kindergartens, 10,000 in primary schools and 13,000 in secondary schools). It goes without saying that these figures vary from year to year, but that they are trending upwards as a result of new schools and/or language sections opening their doors.

Following the accession of a large number of new European Union Member States, many children cannot find a language section corresponding to their mother tongue. These children, known as SWAL (section without a language) pupils, are taught lessons in their mother tongue but are enrolled in one of the existing sections in their school (more often than not the English or French section).

4. Schooling

The originality of the schooling is based on the following principles: lessons are based on the national language (pupils are divided into language sections). A second language is compulsory (to be chosen from English, German and French) from the beginning of primary school level. It is then possible to learn one or two additional languages, according to staff availability in each school. History and geography lessons (and soon other subjects as a result of an ongoing "reform") are, from the 3rd year in secondary school, taught in the pupil’s second language. The "economics" option is already taught in the "2nd language" from secondary year 4.

All the language sections organise harmonised schooling, i.e. the programmes are similar for all sections.

The classes are mixed. Cultural mixing is strongly encouraged and for the lessons taught in a "foreign language" the sections are mixed together.

The schools generally offer the last two kindergarten years, 5 primary school years and 7 secondary school years.

Reorganisation of secondary schooling: secondary schooling is currently being reformed. This reform is not particularly far-reaching for the first three years, but is more profound for the last four years since it provides for the creation of "streaming" from year 4. These specialised streams (scientific, classics, etc.) will each have compulsory basic courses and a limited number of optional courses. A study is currently being carried out in order to determine the exact details of this reform.

5. The European Baccalaureate

The curricula of the European schools lead to the European Baccalaureate. Pupils sit the European Baccalaureate examinations at the end of secondary year 7.

The certificate awarded after the examinations is recognised in all European Union countries and in a number of other countries.

Those awarded the certificate enjoy the same rights and advantages as other holders of school-leaving certificates in their respective countries, including the same right as nationals with equivalent qualifications to seek admission to any university or institution of higher education in the European Union.

The Examining Board, which oversees the examinations in all language sections, is chaired by a university professor and is composed of examiners from each European Union country. They are appointed annually by the Board of Governors of the European Schools and must meet the requirements laid down in their home countries for appointment to examining boards of the same level.

The Baccalaureate examination assesses performance in the subjects taught in the sixth and seventh years, and to qualify for admission pupils must have completed at least the last two full years of the secondary course at the European school.

6. Finances

The schools are managed by an intergovernmental institution, the Board of Governors, pursuant to a distinct international treaty, separate from the Treaty of Rome and its amendments, namely the "Convention on European Schools".

The cost of the European schools (approximately 280 million euros) is financed by the Member States (22%), a contribution from the European Commission’s operating budget (59%), the income generated by school fees provided for in the special agreements with other institutions (12%) and by the fees paid by children admitted as private pupils (7%).

"Cost sharing": the contribution of the Member States to the budget is provided mainly in kind via the secondment of teachers. Accordingly, the teachers in the European schools are generally seconded by the Member States. A controversy has broken out in recent years following the refusal of the United Kingdom to second more teachers than those normally provided to cover the needs of British pupils. The UK wants the other Member States to pay for its "extra" teachers, since other nationalities are enrolled in the English-language section. However, this requirement is not covered in the Convention which regulates these schools. From a budgetary point of view, the amounts involved are negligible, but the lack of teachers is beginning to destabilise the schools.
Some people see in this affair a deliberate policy which is the work of an anti- European circle with the British Ministry of Education, which takes pleasure in creating problems for everything which is "European". It should not be forgotten that, during the negotiations on the multiannual budget, the UK had called for the end of the European schools.

7. Parent Associations

The Parent Associations (APEEE) play an unusual role since not only do they represent the interests of the parents, but above all they also manage a wide range of services, such as canteens, school transport and extracurricular activities. The Parent Associations are grouped together in an "association of associations", called INTERPARENTS, which appoints a representative to the Board of Governors.

Every year, the teachers, administrative staff and pupils elect delegates who participate in the Board of Governors and in various committees – most of which are consultative.

End-of-service: blocking of careers and possible developments

The promotions of AD 13, AD 12 and AST9 staff, after the entry into force of the new Staff Regulations and blocking of careers.

Following the entry into force of the new Staff Regulations, the careers of AST9, AD 12 and AD 13 staff have been significantly restricted, if not blocked. This change was imposed by the Member States and facilitated by the weak resistance of the College and, regrettably, by some staff representatives recruited since the previous reform which called into question end-of-service promotions in the hope that this "capping" would generate savings to be used to reduce disparities. This proved to be a miscalculation, since the savings have lined the pockets of the Council. The restrictions and even blocking of end-of-service promotions has penalised above all the young generation of officials, since the careers of more than 4,000 officials (AD and AST) are now blocked.

The Commission has, however, established certain rules to "cushion" this blocking of careers. We will attempt to analyse these in the paragraphs below, while providing information on their current implementation.

I- The situation of AD12 and AD13 staff

1- Publication of Senior Expert (SE) posts

As the tasks of SE are not defined in the Staff Regulations, DG HR will invite the Commission’s various Directorates-General to identify the functions and tasks of the SE. In any event, they must be functions involving a certain level of responsibilities.

Then, on the basis of the functions identified, the Commission plans to publish a certain number of SE posts. DG HR will define an overall total of Senior Expert posts and each Directorate-General will be allocated a quota. After a transitional phase, this quota will be stable.

These posts will be filled, after a selection procedure similar to that used to appoint an official to a Head of Unit post, in accordance with Article 29, paragraph 1 a) i) and iii) of the Staff Regulations. They may also be filled via a transfer of a Head of Unit or an Adviser who no longer wants to exercise management functions (Article 7 of the Staff Regulation or via a mobility exercise from an SE post to another post of the same type (Article 7 of the Staff Regulations).

As regards SE promotions, DG HR will determine the specific promotion quotas for this type of staff, as part of the normal promotion exercise. These quotas may vary over time.

When a DG has reached its SE promotion quota, posts of this type may only be filled by transfer or mobility (see above), but without promotion.

The Commission plans to publish around 200 SE posts in 2014, i.e. on average 5 positions per DG, depending on the size.

It is to be noted that the revision of the Staff Regulations limited to 15% the rate of AD12 to AD 13 and AD13 to AD14 promotions. More significantly, these promotions do not concern all colleagues in these grades but only management staff and equivalent.

2- The transition procedure provided for in Article 30, paragraph 3 of Annex XIII of the Staff Regulations

The Staff Regulations (Article 30, paragraph 3 of Annex XIII) include the possibility to classify colleagues who do not hold a management position as Head of Unit or Adviser or equivalent. The Commission considers that this classification possibility applies only to "Advisers or equivalent". However, the decision on types of post provides for a grade level at least equal to AD 13 to be an Adviser. Consequently, only AD 13 and AD 14 officials (senior administrators in transition) are concerned. Only these officials could therefore be part of the normal promotion exercise. This advantage does not exist for AD14 colleagues who cannot have a promotion, without becoming Director 4.

The Staff Regulations provide for a maximum of 5% of AD at the Commission, i.e. a maximum of 650 posts.

The Directorates-General will have to request a quota for such classifications, before the end of 2014. This exercise will be coordinated by DG HR.

The Commission could adopt a decision to govern this exercise which must be completed before the end of 2015.

II- The situation of AST9 (Senior Assistant) staff

Following the latest revision of the Staff Regulations, the career of AST staff ends at AST9. With effect from 1st January 2014, grade AST10 posts are only accessible after selection and promotion, on a publication basis.

SA posts will be based on the level of responsibility in the area of management, budget and policy coordination.

Ultimately, the Commission anticipates that 5% of assistant posts will be SA posts (300 posts at the Commission).

With effect from 1st January 2014, the promotion rate for AST9 to AST 10 is 8% of AST 9 staff, i.e. 60 opportunities annually. The quotas will be allocated to the DGs on a demographic basis.


U4U has doubts about the Commission’s policy in this matter and in particular the restriction of grades for assigning staff to types of posts – for example for AD12 staff – which is not provided for in Article 30, paragraph 3 of Annex XIII of the Staff Regulations. It must not be forgotten that a decision cannot limit the scope of a statutory provision, and we consider that to be the case, in this instance; this could therefore open the door to an appeal for any grade AD12 official who is refused a classification on the basis of this decision.

U4U also calls on the Commission to use all existing budgetary possibilities to ensure the proper execution of the procedure intended to fill Senior Expert posts and not to adopt, as it has often done, a restrictive approach.

We also call on the Commission to use all possibilities for the classification of "Adviser/Head of Unit or equivalent" types of post, i.e. 650. This will not cost anything in terms of promotions today. Such an approach could avoid the risk of accumulating further frustration among colleagues in these categories.

Lastly, we want transparent procedures to be established following a meaningful social dialogue.

For more information:

On 14 October, U4U is holding a public meeting to explain these fairly technical provisions and to let you have your say in order to determine where we should focus our trade union action.

You can also consult these slides.

U4U’s training actions

Since its inception, U4U has organised training to prepare for external competitions and courses to help staff in their career development within the institutions. U4U has thus diversified its range of training services over time.

Our training service focuses above all on preparing candidates for external competitions, via training courses run by specialised trainers from the French École Nationale d'Administration (ENA). These courses, which are organised in small groups in order to ensure a very high level of quality, prepare candidates for the EPSO AD and AST competitions. They have been developed chiefly in FR and the majority of them are held in Brussels.

U4U has also organised internal training to ensure that colleagues who work in the European institutions are better able to understand the issues involved in European integration and their consequences for staff. This enables them to be better prepared to defend the common interest and the staff of the institutions. A wide range of themes has been covered, with presentations, followed by a fruitful debate. The presentations are given by volunteers, who are all experts in their field. By way of example, the themes addressed have included general themes such as "The major stages in European integration", "The European Union’s governance and decision-making processes"," The European Union’s budget, mirror of European integration", as well as themes with a more specific trade union focus such as "The Staff Regulations as codification of labour relations", "The development of Agencies", or focused on management tools ("Document management with Office 2010").

In 2014, an effort was also made to meet the specific needs created by the organisation of internal competitions: to that end, a talent screener presentation was organised and preparatory sessions were held, either on an individual basis or in small groups – as a result one in two participants in these coaching sessions were successful candidates in competitions.

In addition, as part of its efforts to diversify its training services, U4U has made an effort to reach staff working in institutions outside Brussels and who may therefore feel disadvantaged. Accordingly, towards the end of the 2013, U4U began offering distance training in EN to anyone wanting to prepare for competitions. Three sessions have been organised in 2014: two to prepare for AD competitions and one for AST.

These training sessions are accessible from anywhere: all participants need is a computer and an Internet connection. Participants do not need any specific technical skills and the proposed time of the sessions (13:00 to 15:00 Brussels time) has been set to enable participants to log on at the same time, whether in the early morning in America, at the end of the evening in Asia, or during their lunch break in certain African and European regions.

The webinar platform, documents and teachers are provided by Orseu-Concours, while U4U handles the organisation, management and coordination of the courses and advertising: U4U officials provide the interface which is a guarantee of quality for the members who participate in the training.

For 2015, U4U intends to take better account of the growing training needs in other centres where Community institutions are established, notably in Luxembourg.

We also intend to continue the cycle of conferences initiated with the presentation on stress management, and to organise workshops on themes of this type.

We also have plans to resume a cycle of internal training courses.

U4U does not sell training courses; U4U helps you to benefit from training with a maximum of guarantees and with the sole objective of offering a high-quality service to colleagues or future colleagues who share our principles, our commitment and help us to empower a union project which benefits everyone, without discrimination or corporatism.

Appeal for your support

U4U is an active trade union, which stays in close contact with colleagues thanks to workplace meetings, including meetings outside Brussels, and participates in negotiations with the administration. We have an up-to-date informative website, we publish regular newsletters, which are routinely translated into English, and we defend you individually before the administration and before the Civil Service Tribunal.

All that costs money. Help us to bear the cost.

If you are not yet a member of U4U, join us – we need your support!

If you are already a member, upgrade your modest membership fee of €15 a year to a support contribution of €60 a year.

We need your financial support. Help us to defend your interests, propose more acceptable staff management policies and challenge measures which will have a lasting adverse effect on staff.

To join and/or switch to the support contribution, use this form on our website or contact us (list of contact persons below).


U4U at your service
Georges Vlandas Président

Jean-Paul Soyer Secrétaire général
Victor Juan-Linares Secrétaire à l'organisation, proximité

Patrice Grosjean (+ dossier Agents contractuels)

Fabrice Andreone (General Affairs, information, legal issues),
Jacques Babot ('Over 50' file and pensioners, GRASPE),
Ute Bolduan (Outside Union)
Paul Clairet (intellectual debate),
Trémeur Denigot (GUDEE, co-editor of Education européenne),
Tomás García Azcarate (External relations, editor of GRASPE),
Gerard Hanney Labastille (Luxembourg site),
Agim Islamaj (monitoring of statutory issues, limited duration contracts) ,
Philippe Keraudren (Restructurations, Executive Agencies)
Alain Liberos – interinstitutional Affairs
Pierre Loubières (ICE),
Sazan Pakalin (Ispra),
Gregor Schneider (Regulatory Agencies)
Kim Slama (Statutory affairs)
Bertrand Soret (EEAS, HU),
Georges Spyrou (European Schools),
Brunhilde Thelen (relations with USHU)
Catherine Vieilledent-Monfort : relations avec le monde associatif
Sylvie Vlandas (Training, COPAR)
Carmen Zammit (issues concerning the post 2004 reform).

Secrétariat : N.N.
Tel interne: 69 671

Vos délégués dans les comités paritaires

CCR Bruxelles: DENIGOT Trémeur, Ispra: PAKALIN Sazan
DGT Lux : BORG Carmen, GARRONI Brigid
FPI: LIAMINE Alessandro
HR: LEONET Philippe
OIB: TOUT Brigitte, PANDUCCIO Antonio
OP : BRITES NUNES Margarida, MIZZI Joseph
RTD: Cov DUMONT Yves, KERAUDREN Philippe, CM: COSTESCU Alexandru Sorin, RTD Orban: VLANDAS Sylvie, KROLL Adeline

Oui, j'adhère !                   Yes, I join !


éditeur responsable: Georges Vlandas

équipe de rédaction : Bertrand Soret, Georges Spyrou, Olivier Brunet, Philippe Kéraudren, Victor Juan Linares, Fabrice Andreone, Sylvie Vlandas, Tomas Garcia Azcarate, Kim Slama, Gérard Hanney, Sazan Pakalin, Agim Islamaj, Yves Dumont, J.-P. Soyer


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