Newsletter from U4U : April 2018 – n°62
For the first time in the recent history of social dialogue at the Commission, the administration has questioned the unions on the future of heading 5 of the EU budget, which finances the functioning of the European Union: Pay, pensions, health care, buildings, schools, crèches, child care centres, various running costs.
This consultation comes ahead of the formal proposal to be made by the Commission. This is progress. In the past, President Barroso consulted the unions after the decision was made on the 2014–2020 Multiannual financial Framework. It is, however, unfortunate that this consultation was not supported by any background documents.
Several unions made contributions. We’ll have to wait and see whether any aspects of these contributions will actually be included in the Commission’s further considerations, and whether the Commission will be prepared to use the arguments developed to defend the MFF to the legislature. At this stage, and despite some negative signals, U4U is prepared to display trust – namely that this consultation was not aimed at preparing the way for further backsliding in the name of a “pseudo-modernisation” resulting in renewed budget cuts, with harmful consequences. The recent meeting with the Commissioner responsible for the budget did not cast as much light on this subject as we would have liked.
During the first two meetings with the unions, Commissioner OETTINGER had already put forward a curious line of argument: today, the heading 5 share would exceed 6% of the EU budget. If the next EU budget decreases, then by 2023, according to Commissioner OETTINGER, it would amount to almost 7%. What a great way to feed new fears and justify zealous reforms aimed at further cutbacks in the European Civil Service. These fears were confirmed during the second meeting in March 2017, when one trade union spoke out for the opening of the Staff Regulations, thus opening the door to austerity measures.
On that occasion, the zeal did not only come from forces outside the European Civil Service, but from inside as well. Let us be clear, the bigger the budget, the smaller the share of heading 5 ; and the smaller the budget, the bigger the share of heading 5 … So, let’s not fall into the trap of absurd arithmetics that would hamper the Commission by attacking its civil service, thus also preventing it from successfully performing its tasks.
See the full text of our analysis...
U4U immediately came out in favour of a European position of solidarity with our British colleagues (cf. for example The LINK, no. 60). More specifically, the Commission decided, based on the declaration of its President, to make the following commitments:
This decision strengthens the independence of the European Civil Service. It makes us proud of our institution. As the European Commission is the largest employer of the European Civil Service, there is no doubt that its position will be supported by the various institutions, services, and agencies. The position taken by the Commission will also have a positive impact on the survival of the English-speaking section of the European schools.
Our library may be under threat: it is true that for some years it has suffered changes that make one fear for its future and the quality of the services offered. However, our library, situated at the heart of the services, plays a fundamental role within our institution. It constitutes:
To find out more and to make better and more frequent use of its services, try the following useful links:
Home page of the library in My IntraComm
Catalogue Find-eR on Europa
Forms for asking all your questions
This GM, called by the Brussels local staff committee, marked the end of its 3-year term. Its purpose was to present the committee’s activity report, reviewing its activities and the outstanding issues. It also had to set the date for the next elections to appoint a new staff committee for Brussels.
The presentation of the report, completed late and yet to be discussed and approved by the present committee, did not lead to any discussion during the meeting, which was a pity.
Nor did the General Meeting appoint the electoral office responsible for monitoring the running of the elections, as the election dates were not set. In fact, the vast majority of those present preferred to vote on a motion to postpone the date of these elections to the return to work after the holidays. There are two reasons for this:
1. at the request of Commissioner OETTINGER, the unions and the administration are currently renegotiating the framework agreement signed 23 years ago, the now unsuitable provisions of which do not allow staff representation to operate effectively. Postponing the elections would make it possible for decisions to improve our system of staff representation to be implemented on the occasion of these elections.
2. avoiding the elections taking place during the summer holidays in July.
U4U considers that staff representation must be improved and has drawn up proposals along these lines (see our videos on the subject).
The European Citizen Platform, created a year ago by citizens’ groups, including U4U, organised a citizens’ rally on Sunday 25 March 2018 at 2 pm, at place du Luxembourg in Ixelles. More than 20 associations and political parties, covering a broad spectrum, were able to express themselves.
Against a background of heightened social crisis, the rise of Euroscepticism has been evident in recent elections in various EU Member States, at a time when the European Union needs, more than ever, to address our common challenges. The ECP believes that a stimulus is needed to strengthen the European democratic framework. It must be part of a citizen-based approach so that the 510 million European citizens can get “their Europe” back. The future of Europe can only be decided by a democratic debate.
More than 300 European citizens responded to the ECP’s call, despite the fact that this weekend was the start of the spring holiday. Based on the result of this initiative, the ECP will meet citizens to organise 10 workshops for citizen debates between now and the European Parliament elections.
From 9 May, it will also operate one of the stands run by European associations to publicise their activities (place Schumann from 12 noon). Visit us!
To find out more, visit the website of United Europe, one of the organisers of this event. Photos...
The implementation of the 2014 Staff Regulations was very slow. The completion last year of the General Implementation Provisions made it impossible to cover every aspect of the subject (see our text on our thoughts and proposals on this issue).
A large number of questions remain to be answered: the promised increase in promotion rates, the organisation of movement between function groups to ensure a better match between the classification in the grid and the professional skills and contents, the revision of the 7-year anti-cumulation rule, the scheduling and announcement of internal competitions, the recruitment of successful candidates in the last internal competition before the end of the contracts of the contract agents concerned. On this last point, we know that the number of successful candidates tends to exceed the “recruitment capacities” of the services. U4U proposes to respond to the existing problems by offering contract agents who were successful in the competition positions as temporary agents pending their recruitment as officials.
The adoption of the GIP must not prevent us from improving the careers of contract agents (see our video on U4Utube). These colleagues, nearly 8,000 of them, play an important role in the smooth running of the institution. They deserve a better career, which will also be helped by the introduction of transfers.
The TA staff at OLAF were encountering a lack of career progression. After many negotiations and a long period of uncertainty caused by the paralysis of the responsible Appointing Authority (the Director General of OLAF), a decision was finally submitted to the Central Staff Committee.
While we appreciate the work of a number of OSPs, including U4U, the FFPE and the US, we can only regret the division of the TA staff that this decision will create. OLAF chose to provide an open-ended career possibility to TA staff who have not attained a final grade (AST9 or AD12). As a result, the AD12 and AST9 grades will not get a solution, despite the fact that some of them have been in this grade for as long as 15 years. The salary correction coefficients (much lower than 100) will still be in place and frozen in the absence of any promotion. These agents remain without the possibility of promotion or a career, with profiles that are too specific to change jobs within the institution. The decision also refers to the “senior expert” quota, which puts TA staff in competition with officials of similar grades who are already in supervisory or senior expert posts and who work close to the senior management that decide careers.
This OLAF decision is not based on the procedures established for the TAs at the JRC or GROW, or similar procedures provided for in the Staff Regulations (by analogy, the reclassification of CA staff). Responsibility for this situation cannot be attributed to HR, which has managed the situation of the TA staff at the DG GROW well, where career conditions have been created for everyone.
U4U will support these colleagues, for whom the only route that remains open for the moment is legal action. The AD12 TAs have no reason to withdraw the legal action initiated with the support of the OSPs. It will therefore continue to be a long time before the commitments of Mr. OETTINGER are realised at OLAF. And just what does he think about this, as the person who was keen to find a fair and equitable solution for these agents?
Finally, there is a considerable risk that the quotas specifically assigned to OLAF to reclassify its AT staff will be diverted to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). Indeed, OLAF is continuing to recruit temporary fixed-term TA staff for undefined duties despite the fact that the lists of successful candidates have not been used up. What a contradiction!
These elections will take place on 2 May 2018. U4U is presenting a list with the USI and the FFPE.
This unified proposal is aimed at providing staff with a serious and credible trade union option. To achieve this, we join forces instead of trying to present several lists, like other unions, with the sole purpose of benefiting the electoral system, as these lists are part of the same organisation.
What is more, our list is also the result of a joint project for in-depth reform of social dialogue at the Commission. Finally, our three unions, unlike others, are taking a stance against the opening of the Staff Regulations, a position that would be less harmful to staff.
USI in cooperazione con
FFPE / U4U per Ispra e Siviglia
The purpose of article 110 of the Staff Regulations for EU officials is to define the procedures for the implementation of the Staff Regulations procedures by infra-statutory acts and to make these rules transparent, for all EU staff (art. 110 para. 4 of the Staff Regulations). With this provision, the Community legislative authority wanted to ensure the consistent and uniform implementation of statutory standards, while preserving the principle of autonomy, as an employer, of each EU institution and agency, as recognised by articles 13 TUE and 298 TFUE and by the case law of the EU Tribunal. Since the revision of the Staff Regulations of 22 March 2004 and the occasionally inconsistent implementation of some of its provisions, the legislature wanted to improve the consistency of the legal framework for the European Civil Service and consequently the unique nature of European public service. This approach was all the more necessary as the number of appointing authorities has continued to rise with the increase in the number of agencies, leading to the possibility of ending the consistency of the aforementioned framework. The stipulation of art. 110 of the Staff regulations was therefore reviewed in 2013 to provide for all of the rules for implementing the Staff Regulations adopted by the Commission to be applied by default to all EU agencies (art. 110 para. 2 of the Staff Regulations). The adoption of this report stems from the obligation imposed on the Commission by the Staff Regulations (art. 110 para. 6) to present an appraisal of the implementation of the rules for execution of the Staff regulations every three years.
The first part of the Commission’s report addresses the legal framework and the existing hierarchy of rules in the statutory domain as it stands. The second part of the text establishes the exact number of implementation rules adopted by all ten institutions, within the meaning of article 1 bis, para. 2 of the Staff Regulations (503 in total). This calculation takes account of the specific features of some implementing rules, adopted by just one institution, like article 1, subparagraph 3 of annex X of the Staff Regulations, which gives an institution the option of adopting the GIP concerning the officials assigned to a country outside the EU, only used by the Commission and the EEAS; like art 125 para. 1 RAA that authorises the European Parliament to adopt internal rules for the application of provisions of the Staff Regulations for parliamentary assistants; and like art 72 para. 1 of the Staff Regulations, which allows the institutions to confer on each other the authority to set the rules governing the medical reimbursement of agents (in this case, they chose the Commission).
The report continues the count of implementation rules with the set of rules that apply to agency staff in the context of article 110 of the Staff Regulations. It lists 593 rules that apply by analogy (art. 110, para. 2 of the Staff Regulations), 201 exemption requests (opt-out or specific rules) and 284 rules adopted on the basis of an ex-ante agreement of the Commission. The third part of the text examines to what extent the institutions and agencies of the EU have used their power to adopt infra-statutory rules, as conferred by the Staff Regulations themselves, and of preparing a list of subjects for which they adopted implementing rules not specifically defined by the Staff Regulations and the RAA. On this point, the text concludes that, by and large, the institutions and agencies conformed to the statutory framework and complied with the changes to the Staff Regulations, which entered into force on 1 January 2014. The report does not identify any systemic problem of the incorrect application or non-application of a rule, although it does identify a few limited areas in which some institutions are late in applying the legal framework defined by the Staff Regulations. Concerning the transparency register for infra-statutory rules held by the CJEU, the text notes that it has been established and that the institutions communicate their rules. However, some discrepancies between the register and the report were identified; these seem to be the result of problems caused by the designation of the instruments or the reference period used in the report. In addition, this electronic collection system is being modified to organise the storing of agency rules, adopting a uniform approach.
The fourth part of the text reviews the mechanisms for coordinating and harmonising between institutions and agencies in the implementation of the Staff Regulations. It highlights the various existing procedures: firstly, the consensual adoption of Conclusions of the “Collège des chefs d'administration” (CCA) by all the EU institutions and agencies, to interpret the technical provisions of the Staff Regulations and the consideration of these Conclusions by the institutions, in the form of internal directives; the opinions of the Inter-institutional Joint Staff Regulations Committee concerning each draft joint regulation or GIP, which contribute to the uniform application of the implementing rules for the Staff Regulations; and finally, the mechanism of art. 110 para. 2, which makes it possible to ensure that the EU agencies adopt the complementary statutory legislation, in accordance with the rules laid down by the Commission. The text considers the existing governance to be satisfactory. It notes the importance of the role of the European executive regarding the agencies and mechanisms for the adoption, by analogy, of the complementary statutory legislation of the Commission by the decentralised Community bodies. It is also pleased with the use of standard decisions by the agencies, and the adoption by the Commission of ex-ante agreements that prevent the proliferation of individual exemptions for each decentralised body. The fifth and final part picks up the previous conclusions; invites the institutions that may not have complied with the implementation rules listed in the report to ensure that they do so; and suggests studying the strengthened measures for cooperation between institutions, to improve the equal treatment of EU staff in regard to the application of the Staff Regulations.
The institutional evolution of the EU, with the increased number of institutions and agencies, together with the growing complexity of the Staff Regulations, related in particular to the integration of new staff categories and the adoption of transition periods and exemptions, after each revision of the statutory framework, can represent a threat to the principle of the unity and uniqueness of the European Civil Service. The existing mechanisms (mutually agreed regulations, authorisation of one institution (usually the Commission) to adopt rules for implementing the Staff Regulations for all the institutions; compulsory consultation of the Staff Regulations Committee before the adoption of the GIP; cooperation of the Community administrations in the context of the Collège des Chefs d'administration on uniform approaches) did not appear to be enough in the opinion of the statutory legislature to guarantee the uniform interpretation of the Staff Regulations by the institutions and agencies of the EU. Accordingly, the legislative authority strengthened these mechanisms, as part of the revision of the Staff Regulations that entered into force on 1 January 2014. It should be noted that art. 110 para. 2 stipulates that the rules laid down by the Commission for implementing the Staff Regulations apply, by analogy, to the Community agencies; that the Commission can adopt delegated acts (art. 111 and 112 of the Staff Regulations) whose provisions apply to all of the EU institutions and agencies in accordance with art. 290 TFUE, as regards certain aspects of the employment conditions and the implementation of the rules relating to pay and the social security scheme; and finally that the Court of Justice establishes and updates a transparency register containing all of the rules for implementing the Staff Regulations. This first report gives a generally positive assessment, three years after the 2014 revision of the Staff Regulations. It is nevertheless important to ensure that the cohesion and uniformity of the legal framework of the European Civil Service are maintained, in the medium and long term, in order to preserve the principle of the unity and uniqueness of the European Civil Service.
Ref: COM (2017) 632 of 26 October 2017. For further information...
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