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

January 2015 – n°42


Content :

Version française

  • Édito : Time to act !
  • DG RTD: what does a policy DG mean?
  • Towards the disappearance of the Civil Service Tribunal ?
  • The mobility of CAs in delegations: a major step forward
  • U4U at DG AGRI
  • Appeal from Alicante staff to staff of regulatory agencies: let’s take control of our professional fate
  • Everything is interconnected
  • Hope for Europe
  • Jean Monnet, the inspiration
  • U4U staff consultation
  • Appeal for your support
  • U4U at your service

There is a consensus within the European Commission on the need to change the institution’s human resources management in the interests of both the institution and staff.

Faced with the challenges of European integration, the new Commission needs the drive and commitment of European civil servants. To remotivate staff, U4U is in favour of organising a roundtable, with the participation of the Commissioner in charge of staff matters, DG HR and the presidents of the staff unions, in order to define the agenda, method, timing and objectives of a social dialogue that would lead to the implementation in 2015 of a programme to modernise human resources management.

U4U believes that the unions must put forward constructive proposals on the content, pace and method of the social dialogue. For this roundtable, U4U has formalised, after having consulted staff and its members, concrete proposals for the five years of the College’s mandate:

1.      Reduce job insecurity from 2015. Organise internal competitions for permanent positions, planned over five years. Address job insecurity by organising professional pathways.

2.      Reduce disparities by means of internal reclassification competitions, planned over five years. Relevant experience acquired not only in service but also prior to recruitment must be taken into consideration. The budgetary resources could come from the under-utilisation of promotion budgets.

3.      Tackle professional downgrading. Contract staff (function group 1, 2, 3) and officials (AST) must be offered, via several external competitions or examinations for promotion to another function group, the opportunity to accede to positions corresponding to their work and qualifications. The possibilities available under the certification procedure need to be fully exploited.

4.      Implement concrete measures to promote gender equality, and not only at management level. It is essential to study the obstacles to the careers of women and eliminate them via a range of actions.

5.      Improve the managerial abilities of supervisory staff.

6.      Organise mobility in a way that takes account of staff expertise. Organise training to develop such expertise. Facilitate inter-DG, inter-service and inter-institutional mobility.

7.      Define a career management and talent screening policy and implement it gradually.

8.      Rethink the management of staff aged 55+ in the context of longer careers and organise access to end-of-career grades via well thought out professional development.

9.      Promote participatory management and a local dialogue. A complex organisation like the Commission cannot operate solely on a top-down basis: staff must be given the opportunity to participate more in change management.

10.  Improve and modernise staff representation. The Commission cannot organise a social dialogue without strong unions that are representative and have adequate operational resources. The Commission needs intermediary bodies in order for the institution to function.

(text for the debate)

DG RTD is clearly going through a phase of intense change:

1) The direct management of large budgets is apparently too expensive. It needs to be outsourced to executive agencies or other more efficient execution structures (joint undertakings).

2) DG RTD must focus on research policy, with other DGs.

This change is very controversial for staff that are professional, committed and actively focused on defining European research. As such, the staff of DG RTD naturally wonder what is to become of DG RTD, its jobs and its staff.

The declarations of Commissioner Moedas on his policy priorities very clearly reflect a policy of continuity, rather than a break with the past. They do not as yet provide concrete answers regarding the future of contract staff, temporary staff, seconded national experts and officials.

The very large number of reactions gathered by U4U since January 2014, including at the meeting of 20 November 2014 between U4U and DG RTD staff, have highlighted the following five issues. For staff (including heads of unit):

1) The policy scope of DG RTD is not at all clear. What will DG RTD do in six years for the post 2020 horizon? Will the policy of DG RTD be reduced to framework conditions (ERA, innovation, links with structural funds, public-private partnerships)? Or will it also include, for example, defining research policy for health, for social sciences and humanities in employment, growth and education, for transport, for agriculture, etc.? On the last point, it is not clear whether discussions have moved forward since the 2013 Caracostas report on the future of DG RTD as a policy DG.

For example, if DG RTD has to focus exclusively on the framework conditions for research and innovation, will it have to be reduced in 2020 to a few A and B directorate units grouped together in a DG RTD with a staff of around 300 or 400? If, as announced, the DG is to shed 600 jobs by 2020, what will the remaining 1,200 staff out of the current 1,800 staff do? Lastly, what will become of the hundreds of FP7 ongoing projects? Must they be shelved as fast as possible as suggested by the expression “FP7 legacy”? Or can they still be developed to highlight the contribution of European research and justify the use of European taxpayers’ money? In other words, should we have a managerial vision or a political vision of FP7?

2) Similarly, the separation between policy and execution, relegated to agencies, has not been fully thought through. As we very well know, execution tasks can have a policy dimension, while “policy” cut off from the realities of the field is sometimes a futile exercise. As Pierre Calame pointed out in an article in the magazine Graspe, between one French ENA graduate who chooses after his studies to join a ministerial cabinet and another who manages the service that issues building permits in an arrondissement in Paris, the former chooses the semblance of power whereas the latter chooses the reality. What power will DG RTD have in defining European research policy? Nothing has been said about policies in the area of training, mobility, exchanges of views and dialogue in order to ensure fruitful coordination between “policy” DGs (there are now eight DGs tasked with discussing policy options in the area of research) and six executive agencies. Moreover, what about “simplification” when there are eight DGs and six agencies that need to work together?

3) For several years now, there has been a steady stream of complaints from the world of research about our funding and control mechanisms. Transferring the execution, that is to say monitoring the implementation of research projects, to the agencies seems to be a bureaucratic and administrative response to these complaints about the growing bureaucratisation of the funding of European research. This mechanism has drawbacks for researchers and subjects them to bureaucratic controls, sometimes carried out in a problematic way.

Thus, instead of trusting the research community and public institutions, for example by adopting “confidence pacts” for the management of public funds (which would allow the publication of calls for interest aligned with the Commission’s policy priorities, for example in the area of collaborative research projects, and the granting of subsidies outside the framework of projects to research teams in key and/or innovative fields), the Commission has responded to criticism of its bureaucratic management by increasing such bureaucracy via agencies. The alternative advocated here would satisfy the expectations of researchers, facilitate Community staff savings and also concentrate the DG’s activities in policy coordination and discussion tasks, including with the public.

4) Nothing has been settled regarding the staff reduction criteria. Obviously, outsourcing to agencies and other delegated bodies implies ipso facto a reduction in staff numbers at DG RTD. However, on the one hand, there do not seem to be any clear staff reduction criteria for each directorate on the basis of competences. The recent screenings are clearly a beneficial initiative, but were carried out too late and in less than optimal conditions. As a result, their real value is questioned by staff. Secondly, and somewhat inconsistent with the wish to “make policy”, several “policy” units have even had to sacrifice large numbers of staff. In addition, what is being done to ensure that the most competent DG RTD contract staff will be able to join the agencies? How does the “motorway” to the agencies work? Where is the logic in reducing staff numbers, and why not organise a transparent market of competences within DG RTD and to the agencies that would be open to everyone?

5) Lastly, the relations with agencies in terms of policy capacity are far from clear. The institutional method is to outsource the funding of research to agencies and to keep policy at a “central” level: DG RTD will be entrusted with the work programmes while the agencies will be tasked with execution. This type of division of labour is not at all evident: for decades, political science research has demonstrated that power and policy capacity go where the money is, i.e. to the agencies.

In the United States, does the Secretary of State for Research still have political power or do the NSF and other funding agencies control and allocate budgets? In France, power lies with the National Research Agency, not with the Minister of Research, whose ties with the research community in the field are now weak. How can DG RTD organise a work programme if it no longer has contact with European projects, since such contacts are now the responsibility of the agencies? Field assignments to keep abreast of projects are considered as a negative performance indicator by senior management. Many colleagues regret that DG RTD no longer meets its "European clients-citizens” at a time when the democratic deficit of the European institutions is increasingly criticised.

This complicated situation is unsettling for DG RTD staff. It is important to clarify once and for all where DG RTD is going, what will be its policy missions, what competences staff will need and, lastly, what staffing levels will be necessary. Let us hope that the arrival of the new Commissioner Moedas will provide an opportunity to clarify the situation regarding the policy objectives of DG RTD and projected staff cuts in the coming years.

The ever-increasing volume of Community litigation before the Court of First Instance (CFI) – around 1,600 cases a year – has led the Court to consider how many judges are necessary to deliver justice within a reasonable timeframe.

It seems that the Member States are not against this approach. On the other hand, they want to ensure a balance between the number of judges per Member State. Moreover, the last renewal of members of the CST – seven judges for 28 Member States – has been delayed because of this issue and difficulties in organising rotation, while maintaining a minimum of stability.

The Court of Justice’s wish to make progress on this issue is also motivated by the actions for damages instituted by plaintiffs on the grounds of a violation of the duty to hand down rulings within a reasonable timeframe. According to the Court’s estimates, the total amount of such damages to date is around EUR 20 million.

To remedy this situation, the Court has therefore suggested doubling the number of members of the CFI, by 2019, in three stages.

1.      Increasing by 12 the number of members of the CFI, i.e. from 28 to 40, in 2015.

2.      Abolishing the CST and transferring the litigation and seven judges of the CST.

3.      In 2019, adding nine members to the CFI.

What would be the ramifications of this approach if it were adopted by the Council and Parliament?

First of all, this is a complete reversal of what was done 10 years ago, in 2004, with the creation of the CST and the transfer of litigation from the General Court (CFI) to the Specialised Court (CST). The Court has not carried out any review or analysis of this transfer, weighing up the pros and cons. Are not the staff of the institutions entitled to receive such information form the Community jurisdiction?

Furthermore, it is appropriate for staff to have a specialised court which hears only staff matters and which is therefore fully familiar with issues relating to the Staff Regulations and staff. Its abolition would inevitably lead to litigation involving the European civil service – regarded as minor compared with economic disputes – being lost in the mass of general litigation, with undoubtedly far more “political” judgments, as demonstrated by the CFI’s appeal rulings on EU civil service litigation.

Such a transfer would undoubtedly also slow down the delivery of judgments and increase waiting times, whereas the CST pronounces its rulings within a very reasonable period of time (on average within one year).

Lastly, this proposal raises the question of whether the CST is paying the price for demonstrating too much independence as regards case law. Moreover, in recent years, the CFI has re-examined a large number of rulings, considered by it to be far too innovative in terms of case law.

Therefore, U4U calls on the Commission, the Court and the Community legislator to present an overview of the performance of the CST and an assessment of the impact of its abolition, before reaching a decision. It will also be important to involve staff representatives from all the institutions in the current discussions, since the abolition of the CST concerns staff directly, and to negotiate with the unions as regards legal provisions.

Abolishing the CST to increase the number of members of the CFI will not resolve the problem of the Court’s excessive caseload. The solution is to add new posts to cope with the increase in litigation.

The principle of mobility for contract agents in delegations (CAs) is defined by decision C(2012) 7200 on the management of Commission resources in Union delegations, and mobility is implemented by a decision of 21 May 2014.

This article reviews the first mobility exercise for contract agents and presents the exercise which began on 5 December 2014, within the framework of the social dialogue. The latter has introduced two key points: the implementation of this rotation is experimental and subject to joint committee monitoring and, if applicable, it is due to be reviewed at the end of 2015.

The principles governing the mobility of contract agents in delegations

The first exercise was organised on a compulsory basis for ACs having served in a delegation for more than eight years.

Participation was also possible, on a voluntary basis, for CAs serving in delegations, having a living-conditions allowance of 30%, after five years of service, for CAs with a living-conditions allowance of 30 to 40%, after four years of service, and for the so-called “without family” posts after two years. Moreover, it was also possible in the interests of the service and on personal grounds.

The exercise applied not only to mobility between delegations, but also to transfers to headquarters, on a temporary basis, for a period of four years, since it was becoming difficult not to apply to the Commission’s services this innovation provided for explicitly in the Staff Regulations for the EEAS. In the latter case, agents retain the benefit of a CA 3(a) contract of the CEOS, but lose the annex X related rights, as do moreover officials returning to headquarters.

The 2014 mobility exercise provided for alternating periods between places of employment considered “easy” and those considered “difficult”.

Assessment of the 1st mobility exercise in 2014

In the end, 31 CA colleagues participated in the exercise, including 13 CAs having served in the same place of employment for eight years, 14 CAs on personal grounds and three CAs in the interests of the service.

The delegations have drawn up shortlists on the basis of the recommendations prepared by DG DEVCO, which consolidated the end mobility project. The mobility committee validated the DG’s posting proposals.

Ultimately, out of 31 candidates originally, 10 have been transferred to another delegation, nine have been posted to headquarters and 12 have remained in their current post.

In fact, some colleagues who chose to participate withdrew during the procedure and as the mobility exercise was based on a voluntary approach, they blocked the colleagues who might have taken their place.

Launch of the CA mobility exercise in 2015

The principles of this exercise are identical. Mobility is compulsory for CAs who have been in the same post for more than seven years. On the other hand, CAs who have agreed to participate in the procedure on a voluntary basis cannot withdraw subsequently.

Each CA who applies must submit five posting choices and adhere to the principle of rotation between easy and difficult posts.

123 CAs have applied for 127 available posts, including 69 CAs on the basis of compulsory mobility, 31 on a voluntary basis (98 eligible) and 23 CAs on an early mobility basis (out of 37 requests).

The exercise was launched on 5 December 2014. Applications had to be received by 31 December 2014.

The delegations will make their selections in January 2015 and decisions will be notified to candidates in April 2015. The successful candidates will take up their new posts in September 2015.

U4U AGRI is a branch of U4U, the trade union platform which puts the European project at the heart of the issue of staff management (missions and needs) and which adopts a proximity approach to union representation, in order to define solutions tailored to each DG, agency, office and representation. Accordingly, U4U AGRI is in regular contact with the DG’s human resources unit in order to ensure close cooperation on numerous subjects affecting colleagues.

In this regard, U4U AGRI is proud to have mobilised almost 300 colleagues to support the Director-General in his negotiations with OIB on the issue of the reduction of office space and relocation. U4U AGRI is pleased to note that the DG stood firm on the question of reduction of space and maintained its stance, which was less drastic than that of the OIB proposal. Its request not to have the relocation coincide with the work peak of our Rural Development colleagues was satisfied. U4U AGRI has had several meetings with the human resources teams on questions such as the organisation of working time and its local application, the essential harmonisation of teleworking, etc.

U4U is fully committed to member consultations and, on the basis of such consultations, it has transmitted to the DG’s human resources department a list of the concerns, questions and suggestions of its members:

• In a context of reductions in staff numbers, an increase in the work volume to compensate for the loss of jobs, career slowdowns, AST 9 and AD12 staff blocked in their career progression, how can the careers of colleagues be managed, work organised and responsibilities shared within the DG in order to ensure that as many people as possible have career development opportunities?

• Has the DG defined a strategy for managing its resources which takes account of the indispensable need for talent screening and staff supervision in order to ensure genuine career pathway management? What tools and practices have been developed in this regard? Is it a transparent process?

• Is the DG developing tools and establishing inter-DG pathways to promote an efficient internal mobility policy, and more generally across the whole of the COM?

• Does the DG participate in the classification of colleagues in grades AD13/AD14 in “senior” type posts? Is it proactive in this exercise? In a context of reductions in the number of officials, the DG must mobilise colleagues in the 55+ category, even if their career is blocked. Is it giving consideration to how to motivate them and validate their experience, while taking into account the increased length of careers?

• Does the DG have statistics showing how many colleagues are in a position where their career is blocked, both at the current time and over a five-year horizon, for each AST and AD category?

U4U AGRI has suggested that the DG should examine the possibility of colleagues participating on a voluntary basis in developing solutions on issues which affect them personally, since many colleagues have interesting suggestions in a wide range of areas (careers, functions, training, the organisation of work, work-life balance, collaboration/cooperation procedures, sharing of resources, etc.). Bearing in mind that staff are more committed when they are convinced of the methods and means employed in their role, U4U invites the DG to consult staff to explore:

·         How can staff whose careers are blocked for the immediate future be remotivated?

·         How can motivation based on the attractiveness of work be substituted for career motivation?

·         How can work be redefined and organised in a dynamic and fluid manner?

·         How can we resist the division of functions to return to an institution where individuals are at the heart of a system of discussion and production, where they can easily switch from one function to another, thereby making such mobility a contributory factor to career development rather than an obstacle?

·         By blocking careers, the last reform has produced a shortage of functions which were previously key functions. What is the best way of sharing these increasingly rare functions? Are there not innovative ways of sharing responsibility differently? How can we use a flexible allocation of resources to deal with work peaks?

·         How can staff talent be detected and managed throughout the career of colleagues, so that they receive the necessary support throughout their career, rather than being left to their own devices from the beginning of their career?

·         How can we make our DG a pioneer by adopting a different approach to the management of its resources, guided less by meeting indicators, whose effectiveness in contributing to cost reductions has yet to be demonstrated, and instead more sensitive to the interests of staff, for the benefit of the institution as a whole?

·         How can this debate be organised so as to ensure a representative participation of the diversity of statuses and grades within our DG?

U4U AGRI is still awaiting some statistical information on the staff affected by career blocking immediately and in the short term in the DG, for each AST and AD category. Finally, U4U hopes that ad hoc consultations of colleagues will be rapidly implemented on the issues raised above.

U4U AGRI is confident in our collective ability to tackle within our DG the challenges facing us, such as maintaining a high-quality civil service, served by motivated and enthusiastic staff. We are counting on the DG’s ambition to develop its own strategy and on its ability to mobilise the means for a meaningful consultation/collaboration with its staff.

(Text for the debate)


In recent years the number of regulatory and executive agencies has mushroomed. The latter are simply Commission services without being called such by name, so that they can employ staff on lower salaries and with no real career prospects. On the other hand, the role of the regulatory agencies is important, since it corresponds to the European Union’s new missions.

Both types of agencies have similar problems in terms of careers and pay. The regulatory agencies are scattered willy-nilly throughout the whole of the European Union, generally a long way from the decision-making centres of the institutions, thereby making their work more difficult and more expensive at operational level, with in addition fewer services provided for staff, in particular as regards schooling for their children.

That is why, after having discussed the issues with many colleagues working in regulatory agencies in order to assess staff needs, U4U/RS, as a union that is present in many agencies, proposes a debate on these work aspects for all staff in regulatory agencies.

U4U/RS wants a wide-ranging debate to be organised with staff, staff representatives and the other unions present in the agencies with a view to establishing a pan-European platform of regulatory agencies. Here are our proposals for the debate:

Sustaining employment and reducing job insecurity

·         Give contract staff fixed-term contracts as swiftly as possible;

·         Ask the budgetary authority to create temporary agent posts, in order to recruit TAs and enhance the career development of interns.

Developing the careers of agents in decentralised EU agencies

·         Organise regular reclassification exercises for CAs and TAs;

·         Organise inter-function reclassification exercises for CAs, as the Commission does for certain functions and types of post;

·         Organise specialised external competitions.

Organising mobility within and between agencies

Set up an inter-agency job exchange for contract agents and temporary agents.

Developing and enhancing the social dialogue within agencies

·         Conclude framework agreements between professional and staff associations and the administration in each of the agencies;

·         Protect colleagues standing in staff committee elections and those who run professional and staff associations;

·         Ensure that staff committees and professional and staff associations have the necessary operational resources (mailboxes, meeting rooms, secondments, mission expenses).

Acting together and maintaining staff unity

·         Voice demands which are of interest to all agency staff in order to avoid staff schisms and establish a basis for a united front to ensure the success of our actions.

·         In the longer term, agencies should be consolidated in fewer locations in order to improve their operational capacity and relations with headquarters, thereby also improving the services provided to staff in terms of social and educational structures (nurseries, schools, etc.).

·         Define the roles and career paths of AD12/AD13 and AD14 and AST9, AST10 and AST 11 staff.


Working conditions, stress, mismanagement of human resources, solutions, our fate which is in our hands…

The pervading demagoguery which the former Commission could not resist, implementing the only about-turn known to date in Europe on working hours, with the return to a forty-hour week – without any financial compensation, in fact just the opposite – has driven our leaders to force our institutions to work more with considerably reduced financial and human resources. This has had ramifications at several levels: for example, working conditions, the cost of work and the future of the joint sickness insurance scheme.

Why link these themes? Because they are closely interconnected. The deterioration in working conditions has an impact on the organisation of work which, because it is inappropriate, adversely affects our health. A cynic could argue that the consequences, namely absenteeism, stress, depression and the resultant sicknesses (even suicides and disability) have a negative impact on the labour costs of our employer and also, in a secondary, but very direct way, on the joint sickness insurance scheme (JSIS), which reimburses consultations, tests and treatment (see U4U paper on the future of the JSIS).

But the burden is above all borne by each of us, as we are confronted with these problems to which, for the time being, the response remains insufficient and inadequate. Depression and stress are also the price to be paid for the last reform. U4U has recently taken the initiative of organising several conferences on stress and depression. On 10 October, DG HR organised a video-conference on the subject and is working with several services to combat the spread of the clearly established negative effects on our work-life balance, especially when most of us are a long way from our country of origin and family roots.

Although some people in the Commission are cynical about these issues and show very little empathy towards those who suffer the effects, others take things very seriously. Some human resources units are well placed to measure the economic cost of the successive reforms on the organisation of work, absenteeism, demotivation and the increase in psychosocial occupational diseases. They are aware that we have become a large collective body that is complicated to manage. Multiculturalism and expatriation are sources of enrichment, but also of rootlessness and isolation and these factors, together with often inadequate management and increased pressure on staff in their private life (by reducing the time and means that staff can devote to their family, tearing apart our various forms of responsibility) increase the risk. And they are trying to find solutions, not only to comply with possible directives from an HR concerned about our productivity, but also because they are genuinely convinced that the world is what we make it, and that they can help to improve the lot of staff, by putting them once again at the centre of the smooth running of the organisation.

Thought must also be given to the organisation of work and the role of management. Moreover, management plays a key role in health at work: managers are the mentors of their teams. They can be a risk factor but also a protection factor, if they are good listeners, capable of advising and reducing stress. They have a key role to play but, caught between a rock and a hard place, with on the one hand the pressure they are under and on the other hand the various expectations with which they have to contend, they tend to delegate these responsibilities to related services (HR or medical). They are not trained to manage teams. Moreover, this aspect does not enter into their assessment.

There is a lot of talk about the concept of resilience, learning not to do everything, and not necessarily well. But such advice is anxiety-provoking. It would be far better to be asked to do less but better.

We also have a duty to ourselves and we must not only learn to adapt (to improve self-control), but also learn how to deal with and manage pressure. Neither managers nor staff can solve the problem acting alone. We need to act together to find suitable solutions.

If the size of our institution complicates things, it is easier to apprehend the situation at DG level, in order to take the necessary measures and find a way forward that is not only innovative but also clearly understands mutual interests.

If Bhutan has had the courage to go it alone and call into question the dogmas which govern the formation of GDP, by making “well-being” (happiness?) a major criterion of its calculation, why not consider making well-being at work the key dimension of our institution’s performance?

There is not just one possible response, but rather a series of responses, depending on different needs. We endorse the recommendations of the speakers at the conference of 10 October: we need the freedom and autonomy to invent solutions at the level of a DG, a directorate, a unit, sector. We need to escape from the doom and gloom which has prevailed since the last reform and take control of our fate. We need the confidence of our managers to develop and realise our projects, together with the means to implement them.

We need to combine all our good intentions, identify, disseminate and decompartmentalise initiatives, so that they are mutually inspirational. We need to try to believe that we have the capacity to influence the course of management and escape from the models and dogmas which inflict such ill-being upon all of us, managers and staff alike (one in four persons will suffer from a psychosocial occupational illness during his or her career, all positions taken together). No amount of so-called job stability (moreover, less and less true) or high pay (also less and less true) can compensate for this ill-being.

U4U has taken a closer look at what some DGs are doing (and how) to remedy the pervading ill-being and tensions. What is the origin of these initiatives which are betting on creativity, pleasure and self-fulfilment to enable work to be an enriching experience without destroying us?

Since this summer, staff at DG AGRI have had a vegetable garden where they can engage in urban ecology, in a way that is both educational and relaxing. This initiative, promoted by the staff of DG AGRI consulted by OIB at the time of the redevelopment of a common area, was supported by the DG. Staff at DG ENV can take part in workshops on nutrition, health and life balance, and in outings that are fun and educational at the same time, combining environmental connection, ongoing training and relaxation. A pilot group composed of staff volunteers is now helping the HR unit of DG ENV to develop training/well-being programmes for 2015. These are small drops in the ocean of the human management needs of all of us, as key resources, but it is the multiplication of “local locally adapted” initiatives that will generate the saving principles of our personal and professional development of tomorrow.

There are tangible signs of change concerning the future of Europe. Let's take here three important facts.

In his address to the European parliament on November 25, Pope Francis called for a united Europe. His main argument was human dignity as a central value for the rebuilding of Europe. This is an extract from his speech:
Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests.

At the same time, however, care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights – I am tempted to say individualistic; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a “monad” (μονάς), increasingly unconcerned with other surrounding “monads”. The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.

The second message is delivered by Mario Draghi in a speech at the University of Helsinki. He said (perhaps more openly than before) that Europe has to guarantee the sovereign debt of all States. The reference is clearly for Greece in case of victory of Syriza at the forthcoming elections. The danger of a unilateral decision of withdrawal from the euro area would put at risk the whole monetary union. But Greece could stay if Europe holds responsibility for the Greek debt for 50 years (as asked by Tsipras), which is relatively small compared to Italy or Spain. This explains why Draghi has urged for further economic and fiscal integration while continuing his plan of massive purchase of private bonds.

Last but not least, the president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker has proposed the European Parliament a 3 year investment plan of € 315 billion starting from Autumn 2015. However, this amount is allocated to a specific Fund which includes so far €21 billion. But this initiative is different from previous ones as regards the modalities through which it will be made up. The Fund will be topped up by voluntary contributions from member States (including from non-EU States and other international funds) with a larger participation from richer EU States. In fact this is a step toward a genuine EU budget to issue guarantees for sovereign debts (to which Draghi referred to in recent declarations).

Member States will contribute - up to at least € 200 billion in exchange of the possibility of making investments - outside the parameters of the Stability Pact- which should create new jobs and income in order to stimulate global demand, and generate new tax revenues and therefore save some financial resources for further investment.

As the economic scenario deteriorates in Europe, it would be difficult for member States to reject the Juncker Plan. There is no alternative than an EU wide plan for growth and jobs.

The combination of these three messages provides some hopes for the future of Europe. In times of crisis and rise of populism, we need to mobilize all our forces to act for the common good.

by Jacques-René Rabier

A conference held on 29 November 2014, on the initiative of the Association Français de Belgique-ADFE, coordinated by our colleague Brigitte Tout, and supported by the magazine Graspe

Jacques-René Rabier presented Jean Monnet, “the inspiration”, through his personal experience alongside him. This experience dates back to 1946, at the French planning authority (“Commissariat général au Plan de modernisation et d'équipement de la France”), then in 1953 as a member of the Cabinet of Jean Monnet at the ECSC High Authority.

Jean Monnet’s attachment to the Charentes region and the United States has been well documented. He was driven throughout his life by both pragmatism and openness to the world. By his education, Jean Monnet had strong local roots while being at the same time a well-travelled man. A man of boundless energy, Jean Monnet set up the Action Committee for the United States of Europe in 1955 and managed it until 1975. Jacques-René Rabier met him again after Jean Monnet had left the High Authority, since Jean Monnet was always delighted to renew his acquaintance with his former colleagues.

With humour and style, Jacques-René Rabier shared a few stories revealing Jean Monnet as a hard worker and a man full of ideas, who surrounded himself with people capable of implementing them. Jean Monnet instinctively knew who to trust, and this was a powerful motivator for those in whom he placed his trust. Until the end of his life Jean Monnet defended the Community method as the best way of promoting the common interest of the Union. His words were full of hope in the face of the Union’s current difficulties.

Jacques-René Rabier discussed the relationship between Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman: it was a warm relationship based on mutual respect. These two men with very different personalities successfully launched the idea of building a united Europe.

Jacques-René Rabier also revealed the two women who played an important role in the life of Jean Monnet.

First of all, his sister, Marie-Louise Monnet. In very different situations, the brother and sister demonstrated the same freedom and ease in their dealings with people, no matter how famous or ordinary they were, and had the same attachment to everyday realities and private reflection. Marie-Louise had an important role in the Catholic Church. She was appointed auditor at the third session of the Second Vatican Council, making her the first lay woman appointed to the position. She founded two national movements and one international movement. According to Jacques-René Rabier, Marie-Louise’s voluminous correspondence, which is held by the Jean Monnet Foundation in Lausanne, is well worth studying.

Next, his wife Sylvia, with whom he fell madly in love in August 1929 in Paris and whom he married in Moscow in 1934, and then married in church in France, and who shared his life for 45 years and was a source of wise advice.

Two associations perpetuate the memory of Jean Monnet: the Jean Monnet Foundation in Lausanne which keeps the Jean Monnet archives, and the Jean Monnet Association, founded in 1986, in the Paris region, where the house in which Jean Monnet lived is located and which is a European information centre.

Jean Monnet, present in our everyday life. Squares and streets are named after him. The aim of Jean Monnet Action, a European Commission programme, is to promote courses on European integration in institutes and universities. Moreover, this programme has demonstrated its relevance and has proved a success.

Participants asked many questions, in particular on Jean Monnet’s relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. Jean Monnet had a good knowledge of the United States, where he had many friends, in particular in Democratic circles. Jacques-René Rabier often heard him say: "The Americans are our allies, our friends, but we are not their servants." As regards the British, an excerpt from his Memoirs is very explicit (pp 363–364): "Experience has shown me that it is not good for the English to obtain special conditions and a special situation in their dealings with others, or even that they may expect to benefit from such. On the other hand, a lot can be expected of them if you offer resolutely to cooperate with them on an equal footing. If your resolution is unwavering, there is every chance that they will adapt sooner or later and will become partners, in the full sense of the word."

As we know, Jean Monnet was a staunch supporter of the United Kingdom’s participation in European integration, while accepting its rules.

In conclusion, Jacques-René Rabier noted the lack of strong personalities among current politicians, capable of the creativity and imagination needed to revitalize Europe. He reminded us of our duty as citizens. We must, at our various levels, contribute to the enhancement and deepening of European integration.

From time to time, when relevant in the context of major debates, U4U extends its internal reflection by organising a staff consultation, open to everyone.

(see the latest consultations) (a new consultation on working time will be launched in mid-January)

The process is as follows:

·         After internal debates, a working group draws up a document.

·         This document is published and a form is available for all those who want to share their opinion on it. Contributors can choose to put their name to their opinion or remain anonymous.

·         The working group examines the feedback received and in particular the comments. These are anonymised.

·         The working group then draws up a final report for the executive committee of U4U, which validates the positions which will be followed by the union in its dealings with the employer and other unions, if applicable.

The objective is to take on board the views of staff in order to ensure that U4U adequately represents the diversity of concerns and can defend an opinion shared by the majority of staff.

This mechanism is part of a more comprehensive range of methods. For example, U4U regularly organises local workplace meetings which enable everyone to attend and contribute to the debate.

(see upcoming local meetings)

U4U does not just talk about participatory management at the Commission; it practises what it preaches for its own activities.

Appeal for your support

U4U is an active 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 since we need your contribution.

If you are already a member, transform your modest membership fee of €15 a year into 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 : Elli Sfyroeras
Tel interne: 69 671

Vos délégués dans les comités paritaires

CCR Bruxelles: DENIGOT Trémeur, Ispra: PAKALIN Sazan, HUBERT Lenka 
DGT Lux : BORG Carmen, GARRONI Brigid
HR: LEONET Philippe
OIB: TOUT Brigitte, PANDUCCIO Antonio
OP : BRITES NUNES Margarida, MIZZI Joseph
REPRESENTATIONS : ACABADO Pedro  (Bureau Lisbonne)
RTD: Cov DUMONT Yves, KERAUDREN Philippe, CM: COSTESCU Alexandru Sorin, RTD Orban: VLANDAS Sylvie

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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