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Newsletter from U4U : Summer 2016 – n°48


  Version française

Summary :

  • Edito: dealing with change through social dialogue
  • Doing more with the same resources? 21 proposals from U4U
  • Survey on social issues within regulatory agencies
  • Canteens in the Commission
  • European schools: what happens in case of Brexit?
  • A Commission service, a piece of cultural heritage
  • DG NEAR: high political visibility but change brings real administrative difficulties
  • Reorganization in DG Agri: we are all concerned
  • Social dialogue "modernizing the HR function"
  • Letters to the editor
  • U4U at your service
U4U offers support in achieving your professional goals.  Details about coaching can be found here.

The negotiations on the subject of the middle management case have recently ended (see our back numbers). The Commission proposal aims to organize obligatory mobility and thus allow the reversibility of middle management positions without however offering any guarantees for the remaining careers of heads of unit not finding a new middle management position.

The approach of U4U and most of the trade union organizations differs from that of the College, more abrupt in its implementation, and therefore higher-risk. Indeed, we called for the running of a pilot phase, on a voluntary basis at the start of the process, before any roll-out on the basis of acquired experience, bearing in mind the difficulty of this case and the importance of not throwing the Commission's work into disarray or awaiting independence of the heads of units, the cornerstone of our organization.

This mobility / reversibility of heads of unit could, in our opinion, also be prepared upstream by supporting nominations of those colleagues having already effected at least one or even two such moves. In the end it must form part of a controlled career path.

Bearing in mind the persistence of disagreement, we have pragmatically agreed that we should now go forwards on condition, firstly, that the representation of the personnel be involved a posteriori in the follow-up and evaluation of this initial phase and, secondly, that this follow-up and evaluation lead on to any necessary corrections and adjustments to be discussed jointly. The Commission may well have agreed in fine to recall our concern in the final project decision, but the follow-up procedures, its steps and the organization of the social dialogue around this subject are not yet mapped out in sufficient detail.

The organizations with which we shared our approach - FFPE, ALLIANCE, USF, PLUS, USHU / RS - have written to VP Mrs K. Georgieva to reiterate their demand and propose improvements.

Vice-president K. Georgieva declared that the Commission should do more and better with its current resources.

U4U took this statement at face value and decided to forward some proposals, following a bottom-up process. These proposals have been first discussed internally and then submitted to the staff for their opinion and their comments. The staff approved these proposals and responded with quite interesting comments.

These proposals cover a large spectrum of topics. They are listed here, in a document that was presented to VP K. Georgieva during a meeting held on the fourth of May.

The philosophy behind these proposals is :

- To involve the staff in the decision-making processes about matters relating to its work environment

- To find quick wins in big or small issues

- To cut red tape and to design the internal procedures taking into account the high qualification of the staff

Therefore, U4U asks the Administration to put these proposals on the agenda of the social dialogue. We believe that some of these ideas could be quickly implemented, thus sending the message that the Commission is open to dialogue and cares for her staff.

Our fourth and final questionnaire containing six proposals  is still open. You can consult it here, vote and make comments !

U4U is receiving a growing number of complaints from colleagues employed by the regulatory agencies concerning the conduct of the management boards of these bodies, which lacks transparency, is authoritarian and sometimes violates the social aspect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

To help us gain a more accurate idea of the situation, we have prepared an anonymous and confidential survey to find out how you see the situation in your agency. We will compile the results and then focus our activities on the concrete problems encountered by our agency colleagues in their daily lives.

If you work in an Agency, please take this survey !

"Our food is a fascinating synthesis of our way of life: each food style expresses a certain world view, a way of being in the world "

Canteens in the Commission: things are starting to happen… at last!  A movement that we encourage, in the direction of the expectations of the colleagues, European politicians - that our institution raises without necessarily applying them - and of fit@work, if the latter would only consider the canteens as an element of well-being in our working day.

In the context of its works the Brussels Joint Committee for Restaurants of the Commission (Comité paritaire des restaurants de la Commission - CPRE) received consultants from Environment Brussels to discuss the concept of sustainable canteens. With an average of no less than 7 000 meals per day, the food we eat in our self-service canteens has a definite impact on the environment, whether by its production methods, the distances travelled to reach our plates, or the resulting waste.

At U4U we have long been interested in this general movement towards sustainable food that has now seized the canteens of the European public authorities as well as the rest of the world, including the developing countries, often making faster progress than ourselves, the prescribers! DG ENV for its part has published the latest version of its "green public procurement", which urges all public contracts to incorporate the environmental dimension in their criteria and dedicates a specific chapter to the collective restaurant! Once again, do cobbler's children have no shoes?

Because our existing canteens are far from practicing  what we preach through our various policies. That is why we support the works of the CPRE in its hope to improve our practices towards a better appraisal of the criteria applied to a sustainable canteen (see below).

And, apart from what we eat, U4U is also interested in the place where we take this meal break, its comfort, its soundproofing. And, in this respect, much still remains to be done to make these canteen facilities true places of relaxation.

Our food in our canteens tomorrow: a new way of being in the world, more responsible, and therefore cause for optimism, more in keeping with our ambitions?

Criteria for a sustainable canteen

A canteen that combines all or some of the following elements:

·         fresh, local, seasonal products, grown with respect of the environment and in good working conditions for the producers, and organic products or products of superior quality,

·         a healthy, balanced, varied diet,

·         quality products that taste good,

·         a reduction of animal protein,

·         alternation between animal and vegetable protein,

·         products obtained through fair trade for exotic products,

·         products obtained from sustainable fishing

·         all the while reducing food waste.

Many alarmist rumours are doing the rounds on what might happen in case of Brexit as regards the school education of children of British officials. Let's take a look.

The European Schools are an intergovernmental institution separate from the EU. If the United Kingdom left the EU this would not necessarily mean withdrawal from the European School system. Politically it is feared that the British government would also pull out of the ES since, in the negotiations on the current financial framework, it demanded the closure of these schools.

So, in the event of Brexit (UK leaving the EU), two scenarios:

1- The UK remains in the ES system, British parents currently employed by the EU keeping their rights to school education for their children. Normally, of course, there would no longer be British recruitment in the EU. The UK's obligations concerning the supply of teachers would remain intact, but the UK has not been respecting them for quite some time now. The ES system would therefore unfortunately continue to patch over the lack of that recruitment by local recruitment or non-native speakers. In time the population of children of native English-speaking EU employees (Category I ) will plunge dramatically (there will of course still be some Irish and Maltese), renewal being partially possible through children of Category II or III. The existence of an ‘English’ section in all schools could then be called into question through the play of budget forces.

2- The UK leaves the ES system. The UK no longer supplies teachers, even if it could be hoped that those now in place were to stay on to the very end of their contracts (normally 9 years). The EU would remain obliged to allow access to the ES to all the existing entitled parties, including British. The presence of Ireland in the system provides the justification for the maintenance of an ‘English’ section and for offering English in languages II, III and IV. However, the existence of an ‘English’ section in all schools could swiftly be challenged, if only because of the play of budget forces and the dwindling population of children.

Yes, there is a Commission service, by both officials and the public at large, which is also an integral part of the European cultural heritage. You guessed right, it is the library of the European Commission.

It is situated in a beautiful building, close to all European Institutions.

The library is situated in this charming red bricks building called "the church".

European Commission Library and e-Resources Brussels Centre
VM18 4th floor
Rue Van Maerlant 18, B-1049 Brussels

Reading room open Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm ; Friday from 10 am to 1.30 pm

While its current name “Library and electronic resource centre” appropriately indicates that the library has evolved over time to keep pace with the information society, it may mislead you into believing it was set up in the nineties. In fact, the library is almost as old as the European project. Since 1958 it provides its readers – European and national officials, students, researchers, journalists, and curious citizens – with books, reviews and other documents on all European issues. Old reports on coal mines and the latest online analyses of migration flows, the speeches of Jacques Delors and the political orientation of the Juncker Commission: over time the library has become a unique repository of documents on the European integration. It is the institutional memory of the Commission and the wider community of people who cooperate to build the European Union.

It is a living memory, which librarians have built over the years to respond to the needs of their readers. Needs grow, therefore the repository, which is vital for in-depth analysis and sustained reflection, has been complementing with online resources and appropriate facilities for fast information retrieval – both needs are real and legitimate and are catered for.

Where there are books, there are people with thinking heads – that’s what libraries are for, that’s why new ones keep being opened. Libraries “transform lives through learning, knowledge and culture”, as it is said in the mission statement of the magnificent public library of Birmingham opened in 2013. It is not for lack of alternative venues that in 2015 the Latvian Presidency of the European Union held its events in the Castle of Light, the National Library of Latvia completed in 2014. And that link between books and people is why Luxembourg is massively investing in a new national library, because “a self-respecting country cannot let its books – and thus a part of its past – become dust” (Jean-Claude Juncker, 5.5.2010 ).

In two years from now, the library of the Commission may also host events. As it happens, 2018, its sixtieth year of activity, will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Time to show all the books of the Commission’s library have not become dust, and the library is there – like the European Union itself – to transform lives through learning, knowledge and culture.

U4U recently visited the offices of colleagues in DG NEAR and met the Head of Personnel, then held a meeting with staff interested in the debriefing of these visits by U4U.

DG NEAR, in charge of expansion and neighbourhood policy, has around 850 staff more than half of which are contractual agents, more particularly in the Commission's foreign delegations. It underwent reorganization in January 2015, when it was separated in two buildings with the former DEVCOF, still rue Joseph II, while the great majority of staff are now in LOI 15.

The tasks of DG NEAR are very political, since it defines and manages the expansion and neighbourhood policy by covering "hot" countries for the European Union, whether it be Turkey, the Ukraine or certain countries of the South and East Mediterranean, not counting of course the Balkans. In other words, the cases are most often political and exciting, mixing geostrategy, diplomacy and the management of Community funds. DG NEAR booked some very creditable results in the Commission's satisfaction surveys for 2014. It should also be noted that, between 2013 and 2014, the percentage of persons in DG NEAR (old ELARG) describing themselves as satisfied or very satisfied with their DG measured off against an ideal job has increased (57% in 2013, 67% in 2014). DG NEAR is incidentally exactly in the middle of the Commission (72%) in terms of general satisfaction with the employer (up 6 points on 2013).

The following problems have emerged and, without actually saying that they have spread throughout the whole of DG NEAR, they nonetheless reflect the state of affairs in several units or directorates:

  •          The staff cuts are having an increasingly negative effect on the remaining personnel, inducing a certain unease (exhaustion, sickness, absenteeism). The arrival of new tasks (for example, with 3 and then 6 thousand million Euros for Turkey) has not been compensated by new positions. The personnel therefore takes the view that they should therefore set negative priorities.

  •          The number of contractual agents (CA) is very high, hence also a high turnover, for instance in the "batches" of CAs. Furthermore, despite serious efforts to stabilize the renewals, the contract renewal policy remains unclear to the eyes of the CAs. The absence of any CA policy at Commission level is a fear keenly felt at local level, giving CAs the impression that they are general dogsbodies at anyone's beck and call rather than real colleagues integrated equally in a common undertaking.

  •          There is a very large gap between the talk on harmonization of professional and private life and the available tools and actual practice: the career continues to be penalized whenever anyone wishes to use these tools (parenthood leave, part time work, etc.) and blackmail sometimes even creeps into certain units practicing staff reductions and looking to unload colleagues using or applying for these tools.

  •          Too many members of management adopt too restrictive a view of the application of the flexibility tools offered as they believe it will somehow better suit top management to limit their use. DG NEAR is particularly aware of this problem and is trying to find remedies, for example by de-demonizing teleworking.

  •          Colleagues in ASTs are seeing their career and mobility opportunities decrease to the point that some of them feel imprisoned in their unit. Here again, faced with the reduction of mobility within the Commission, DG NEAR is trying to recreate internal mobility within the DG through voluntary exchanges of colleagues having occupied the same position for at least 5 years.

  •          The moves are too frequent and work conditions suffer as a result. Some colleagues work three together in an office space of barely 21m²: unfortunately we must report a number of unpermitted departures from the accommodation conditions manual.

  •          The changes of management tools are too frequent and not supported by sufficient resources in hours/persons. This situation increases the burden on the day-to-day management of files, increases risk and compromises efficiency.

  •          The tasks are increasingly slipping out of control: the more interesting cases are managed by external contractors and the mobilization of HR that this supposes is bureaucratic and disproportionate to the political result.

  •          The separation between two buildings is not conducive to communication between the different parties in DG NEAR and the colleagues in Joseph II feel pushed to the side. Several grouping proposals have been examined, but negotiations with the OIB, whose objectives are different, have not procured any useful result.


It should be noted that this panorama of subjects of debate in DG NEAR evidently does not include the colleagues in Delegations, which have problems of their own (in particular for contractual agents and local agents).

U4U thinks that, despite a policy for active personnel, DG NEAR is suffering from a direct hit of the deficiencies of the current personnel policy at Commission level. The lack of any policy for the CAs (two and a half years after adoption of the new Status), reduction of mobility, drastic staff cuts not accompanied by revision of the political priorities and their effects on the morale and health of the personnel and the absence of policy for the ASTs, for instance, can only weaken the DGs and end up rendering the management of personnel a rather pointless and frustrating exercise. In these conditions it is feared that the projects for recentralization of the HR function will only make a bad situation worse and leave the personnel all the more at the mercy of local circumstances.

DG AGRI is one of the DGs that will pay a much higher price than others in staff reductions. When you cut resources in one sector more than in another, either that sector will be more overworked in relation to its needs, or it is no longer a priority. We take the latter scenario: the common agricultural policy and its considerable budget are no longer a priority for the Union, and these reductions of human resources foreshadow the decreasing importance of this policy, one of the few that are common, in the future in the whole gamut of Union policy. We must recognize the fact and prepare ourselves.

These reductions fell outside the scope of financial prospects, even before the Commission produced its first evaluation of the reformed CAP, due for 2018. This being so, now is the time to question the nature and objectives of a common agricultural policy, what this policy should perhaps continue to be and what its actual purpose might be. Only answering these questions will allow necessary, relevant, well-considered reorganization of resources left to it in the interests of efficiency. In an open letter DG Jerzy PLEWA and Commissioner Phil HOGAN invited the personnel to offer suggestions by 12 May to model the future DG AGRI. We shall see what they propose to do with these.

Fundamentally this consultation on the future of DG AGRI is basically a good thing. In practice – without consideration of what a clear political mandate for the future might look like, without direction, without the exercise of joint effort correctly propelled and coordinated – the box of ideas would deliver only a few patchwork solutions, the time to move on to the next stage of reduction. Let us hope that the meeting called by the CEO for 24 May next with all the staff of the DG will allow us to design the architecture of a work that will not stop short of an in-depth discussion as to how to develop the common agricultural policy in order to respond to numerous challenges, set the priorities, identify the activities to be maintained, improve our work methods and organize the work more efficiently.

The truth is that synergies can be found with the DGs in the structural fund family, or the RTD and external relations, clarifying relations with DG ENV. It would be daring to restart the whole work from scratch, which would involve conceiving an entirely different approach to agriculture. Let us consider its place, in a more integrated – and more ambitious – vision of the development of territories, its fundamental organizing role in environments, as a tool in the service of biodiversity and resilience, creating agricultural activities keeping step with the challenges for future generations, especially climate change. Let's approach it outside of its food-providing function whilst remaining able to prevent and react to production crises. Let us set up a think tank dedicated to this new model.

The only certainty at present is that positions must be freed up, personnel levels reduced (some performance indicators depend on it). There's the rub, because the imagination of "how to do well" is lacking and, with it, the vital awareness that we are dealing with human material and must not act as if it were mere figures, costs and statistics. The administration counts on retirements. But we already know that these are not enough. It will nonetheless encourage as many as possible to retire, but how? By subliminal pressures of which no-one can deny the actual violence, or by decent incentive? For those unable to find an equivalent position, in terms of interest and function, it proposes fast-track training for the change of profession: as if a profession could be lashed together in just a few days of training.

And as if everyone had the possibility of making a radical change. As if everyone did not have a specific career path before them and profile to keep in sight. Will DG HR be able to assist and support these colleagues when it undergoes radical reorganization? Are they priorities? The administration encourages each individual to express his or her preferences, but limits or prevents them in the creation of positions in more than half of the DGs: given these conditions, what is to be done? What means should be employed to ensure correct, careful work once Article 7 comes into play, and what new assignments will be imposed on experienced colleagues, often possessing thorough knowledge of their field of activity?

And that is not to mention the combined impact of these reductions and the new mobility policy for middle management. By closing dozens of HR units, that many heads of units will arrive on the market. It will be all the more difficult in DG AGRI, for those who are already two there, to see any more terms of office, to make a move and, thus, to remain in their position. What decent reversibility is planned for them? And who will attend to their support and guidance if the entire HR family is busy reorganizing itself? And in this merry dance, will any of us hold on to the vital memory that our institution needs to remind itself of where it came from and where it might now best be going?

Prescriber of guidelines on social dialogue, work environment, workers' well-being, etc., our government does not give an example of what a sympathetic society should be, even forced by the necessity of change. Change is often for the best, but all depends on how it is made.

The Commission has promised enormous economies, but the personnel should not be its adjustment variable. Let us not exhaust our assets by undermining them. Let us think about that, because it is the backbone of the project, the resource without which – and the note sent to VP K. Georgieva – none of all this could function. And beware of those who think that it could function in any conditions: they are digging a grave for all of us. But will they still be there tomorrow to account for their actions and their consequences? History has shown us that those most bent on dismantling us pursue comfortable careers in the best circles, ...

On Friday 15 April DG HR received the OSP to present them with the broad outlines and steps of the planned modernization of the HR units following the publication on 4 April of the Commission's decision concerning the modernization of the HR function and its document on synergies and recentralization.

The Commission's decision would not be confronted with the fait accompli that seemed to face it, but the statement of intent the implementation of which should be joint and drafted together with the representation of the personnel working for the HR family. The aim of the facelift of the HR function is to find the best level of proximity with the "end client" or, in plain language, with each one of us, to better organize itself and serve us whilst also serving the needs of the institution. The fact of the matter is that the die has been cast and that we have been invited to attend, in some manner or form yet to be decided, the implementation of a decision already taken.

In its latest circular, U4U indicated that it was not opposed to this change on condition that it was based on a clear evaluation of past results and new needs, and that it should serve as a source of real improvements for the personnel and for the colleagues in the HR family. We must therefore understand how the new architecture would help to increase efficiency to meet the needs of career guidance, mobility, advancement and the best-possible use of the skills and knowledge of colleagues. If such an evaluation had been conducted it might have been possible to answer this question. However, it must be concluded that this exercise in modernization and recentralization finds it primary justification in the desire to ask of the HR family the same sacrifices as those demanded from all the DGs in the matter of staff cuts. Cut, streamline to make savings – we will see what happens later.

Sooner or later some 380 positions will disappear in the HR family across the Commission. In its article U4U therefore demanded correct treatment, during the professional changeover of the colleagues of the HR family in each DG in the changes to come. Each of them must be able to express his or her professional priorities so as to redirect his or her career where necessary. The government counts on "natural" departures, in the knowledge that there will always be a number of colleagues who have been caught either in the central structure of DG HR (AMC established per cluster of DGs belonging to the same family), or in the local cells (Local Business Agent - LBA), or one or another DG of their choice. As U4U requested they will be offered individual coaching and training. There is no specific timetable for these cuts to positions: it may therefore take several years to complete with the least possible pain and suffering. However, the planned pilot phase and the announced implementation phase do not hold any great promise of sufficient time for seeing this reorganization through to a successful completion without too much pain and suffering since the new architecture must already be in place by mid-2017.

U4U consequently has to wonder about these soothing declarations that the timing seems to contradict. And about the role that the OSPs will be expected to play in this process of "soft" finalization of a unilateral decision which is singularly lacking in that commodity. U4U hopes – and will keep a weather eye to ensure – that this process of joint effort with the personnel of the HR family will be sincere and take account not only of the suggestions of this experienced, qualified personnel, but also of its expectations as regards the direction and progression of the new career.

Too many unknowns remain. It is a matter for the DGs to incorporate the LBA cells in their organization. No-one knows what the hierarchical level of the main LBA; the DG will have to decide or, to put it differently, left to the discretion of each, how can the transparency of the process be guaranteed? And will the heads of units currently stationed find as many positions in the AMCs as they free up? It is mathematically impossible. What will be their future in a Commission where mobility no longer exists, plus the fact of reduction of positions and the rationalization of resources? Will they be the first to feel the consequences of the reform of middle management? The heads of units outside the HR family with more than two terms of office in their positions and in their DGs would be wise to consider the matter.

After largely using the ASTs for tasks formerly devolving on the ADs, the Commission now intends to reconnect with the original role of the AST as a tool for the creation of "policy-making" units to release the ADs from certain tasks. Does this mean that after having had certain levels of responsibility for many years, colleagues in the ASTs who are unable to integrate either an AMC or LBA will be offered retraining for the distance technical support tasks to which they legitimately aspire? What impact might such a career change have on the motivation of this staff especially in the twilight of their careers?

U4U urges the administration to endorse the declaration of President Juncker that the staff is the true wealth of the institution and makes him the offer of meeting the challenge of zero dissatisfaction following this reorganization, through careful coaching and guidance of each colleague in difficulty, as befits a high-ranking administration and highly qualified personnel.

Timetable 2016:

  • pilot phase with DG / offices (PMO and OIB) of the HR family. In this pilot phase, no one will be transferred; participation in this phase does not prejudge where colleagues will then be transferred;

  • workshops bringing together central and local HR staff to identify who will do what and how to make improvements;

  • call for expressions of interest (AMI) with only HR family personnel to see who wants to go where (we can indicate their preferences by ranking). DGs will choose who will remain locally, DG HR will select who will be part of AMC and the choice will be validated by the DGs under the control of an AMC;

  • late 2016, staff will know where to go.

Is centralization efficient?

We may gain by centralizing certain aspects of human resources to ensure uniform implementation within the institution and to avoid arbitrary interpretations (flexitime, leave, part-time, teleworking, etc.), but the question remains as to the effectiveness of career management from the centre, when it comes to change, for example in a DG. Inter-DG or inter-institution mobility could certainly be facilitated, but sensing opportunities across DG would then be more difficult, leaving this responsibility to the "local business agent", to use the crude business jargon, so unsuited to the reality of a public service whose essence and purpose are anything but "business-driven". However, the final architecture is not yet established and still needs to be finalized by the input of HR colleagues gathered in workshops specially designed to shape the final contours. It is to be hoped that these workshops will be true spaces for dialogue and for the emergence of collective intelligence.

I am an active member of U4U and, as far as the proposals we can put forward in order to improve our working conditions are concerned, I would like to suggest that a lot of more attention should also be paid to the quality of our projects.

I am a bit scared by the proposal “Avoiding the unnecessary complication of procedures, controls and structures”, unless you specify a bit better what you are talking about. The idea is clear, even too clear, but without a specific context to which it applies, this could well be considered a double-edge sword.

In Finance and Contracts sections we are supposed to “control” the respect of legality, regularity and sound financial management. Very often (not to say always) an important part of these tasks foresee control over our operational colleagues (and I know that for having been on the other side as well). Now I assume that if these controls exist in the first place it is because there is a need for them, I guess.

The real problems is that these controls are not effective because they can be overruled because there is a built-in, consolidated, structural subordination of Finance and Contracts vis-à-vis operational colleagues. The problem is that to my experience the quality of our projects (mainly lead by operations) is lacking mainly due to time pressure in order to effectively and efficiently check it.

So one might say that the solution could be less controls (as this proposal could hint at) in order to streamline projects which are not always delivering the expected results? Or more controls?

Is the solution more Europe or less Europe? Of course it is not the Finance and Contracts sections which are going to be the saviours of the quality of our projects, as actually (according to the financial circuits) the quality checks of the projects are above all in the hands of the operational colleagues, but this is an example of how this proposal could be interpreted: “unnecessary complication of procedures, controls and structures , Finance and Contracts sections are there to offer a splendid example of how to do this: simply downsize them as they are almost “useless”. In my experience, we are and if someone claimed that, I would agree with him/her in so far as our verifications tasks (“powers”) are next to zero, and on top of that they take time.

Unless we maintain that Finance and Contracts tasks are more clerical in reality than what is on paper, then, OK, change the job descriptions and let Finance and Contracts section be the secretariats of operations.

Of course, my aim is not to fuel “hatred” between the two sections, but rather to try and suggest how the quality of our projects could be improved, because that is what we, (be it in HQ or delegations) are there for, and I don’t think that this proposal goes in this direction, actually I see risk of it to be hijacked, or maybe it is there on purpose as a Trojan horse?

I think it is high time to quote JFK when he said “do not ask America what it can do for you, but ask yourself what you can do for America”. What can we (as EU staff) do in order to better serve our political goals, work in a better environment, but above all be honest with our mandate and deliver quality results?

My impression, based on my experience, is that we do too much and not well enough.


If there are economies to be made it might be pointed out that the Commission should not scatter a DG, down to its individual units, among several countries!

In DGT there are not only units in Brussels and others in Luxembourg, but also units divided between these 2 countries!.This causes numerous engagements and as many costs, not only for the CEO, the heads of HR, managers and training staff, but also for any heads of units wishing to meet their own staff! I do, however, understand that, at a political level, all countries must be satisfied with an office by placing an entire DG in one single country (1 DG per country rather than 2 DGs each in 2 countries).

I would also like to draw the Commission's attention to the advantages of not concentrating personnel in the European Quarter: besides reducing transport problems or access during high-level meetings, events or problems with road works, there is also the issue of security (still of topical interest) to reduce vulnerability. In any case, if we already have DGs in Luxembourg, why centre all the DGs in the European Quarter?

If renting private buildings is too expensive in the rue de Genève (currently 3 buildings), once NATO moves to its new headquarters, its current historic site (since 1965) will become available (returned to Belgium). It would then be possible not only to group one or several DGs (good transport links, proximity to the airport and the Ring, there is also a private day nursery in Bordet), but also to use the infrastructures of the new NATO site: canteen (outsourced service as with the Commission) and the sports infrastructures (swimming pool, football pitches, gymnasium, …)! I am sure that the sharing of costs will interest the contributing countries since the majority of the 27 countries are involved in financing NATO; this will effectively "kill two birds with one stone"! Obviously, the discussions with the Belgian State for recovery of the site and with NATO to split the infrastructure costs should begin now and not in 2019 with the expiry of the leases, …


Regarding the difficulties of operating staff representation in the agencies and human resource centralization project, I think it would be a very good thing to create, if not a single staff committee, then at least a number of separate committees. I also have echoes of obstacles to the functioning of the Staff Committee. The ACAA could become a Staff Committee, on the lines of your Outside Union committee. Elected officials have more independence by relying on colleagues in other agencies. They could better coordinate and help each other, exchange experiences and have a more effective participation in the inter-institutional committees. There should be a weighting in the voting rights according to the weight of the agencies.

What we also noticed is that HR managers in branches are less often civil servants. They are struggling to train. I have met them at conferences of the Academy of European Law in Trier on the litigation of European public service. They are anxious to learn the statutory law, but it is not easy when they are recruited outside of institutions and they do not have the opportunity to learn their craft in a well-structured HR department before being left to their own devices in an agency. If the Commission plans to cut civil servants in charge of human resources, it could eventually "squeeze" some agencies to use their acquired skills to succeed to agents whose contracts come to an end or have training on site. It is a waste of human resources to have hundreds of qualified and experienced persons on the one hand and, on the other, managers in agencies that are trying to muddle through one way or another.

It is probable that most HR managers in the agencies are brimming with good will and want to see their "shop" perform as honestly as possible but, like everybody else, they need training and direction. If the manager of an agency is not an official, he too does not have any solid experience of the status. We must follow the dictates of common sense and appoint some experienced officials for key positions in each agency.

U4U is an active union, working on behalf of colleagues through its workplace meetings, not only in Brussels, and present in negotiations with the administration. We have an informative and up-to-date website, we publish regular newsletters, systematically translated into English, we defend you individually before the administration and before the Civil Service Tribunal.

All of that comes at a cost. Help us to meet it.

Not yet a member of U4U? Join us as we need your participation.

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U4U at your service
Georges Vlandas, Président

Jean-Paul Soyer, Secrétaire général

Manuela Alfe (Executive Agencies)
Fabrice Andreone (General Affairs, information, legal issues),
Ute Bolduan (Outside Union)
Trémeur Denigot (GUDEE, co-editor of Education européenne),
Pierre-Alexis Feral (institutional Affairs)
Patrice Grosjean (dossier Agents contractuels)
Gerard Hanney Labastille (Luxembourg site),
Agim Islamaj (monitoring of statutory issues, limited duration contracts),
Victor Juan-Linares (Organisation, proximité)
Philippe Keraudren (Restructurations, Executive Agencies)
Pierre Loubières (ICE),
Petros Mavromichalis (EEAS HQ)
Sazan Pakalin (Ispra),
Gregor Schneider (Regulatory Agencies)
Kim Slama (Statutory affairs)
Bertrand Soret (EEAS DEL),
Georges Spyrou (European Schools),
Brunhilde Thelen (relations with USHU)
Catherine Vieilledent-Monfort (relations avec le monde associatif européen)
Sylvie Vlandas (Affaires générales et budgétaires)
Carmen Zammit (issues concerning the post 2004 reform).

Secrétariat : Katsilis Chantal
Tel interne: 98 1078

Vos délégués dans les comités paritaires

Vos élus au comité du personnel local et central

CCR Bruxelles: ZUPAN Jerica, Ispra: PAKALIN Sazan, DENIGOT Trémeur, GRUBER Adrienn
DGT Luxembourg : BORG Carmen, GARRONI Brigid
EEAS: SORET Bertrand,
FPI : LIAMINE Alessandro
JUST : DI STASI Marilena
OIB: TOUT Brigitte, PANDUCCIO Antonio
OP : BRITES NUNES Margarida, MIZZI Joseph
REA: ALFE Manuela
REPRESENTATIONS : ACABADO Pedro  (Bureau Lisbonne)
RTD CM: COSTESCU Alexandru Sorin, RTD Orban:  KERAUDREN Philippe, DUMONT Yves

Oui, j'adhère !                   Yes, I join !


Union for Unity AISBL, 23 rue du Cardinal Bruxelles

éditeur responsable: Georges Vlandas

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


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