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General issues

Reimbursement of mission expenses: the question of credit cards

For many years, the missions service has tended to decline, both in quality and in terms of support for those sent on mission. In practice, the official or member of staff advances the mission expenses, which the institution then reimburses, with very variable delays. The end of the system of advancing expenses that the Commission used in the past – which also enabled savings to be made in human resources – was linked to the granting of a credit card, with payment deadlines of 60 days, which should enable colleagues not to be debited before receiving their reimbursement. It should also be pointed out that not all mission expenses can be paid by credit card, and the Commission has reduced the so-called staff facilities with what are now known as “modernisation” measures:
Expenses will be deducted within 30 days instead of 60 days, whereas the PMO does not necessarily reimburse within 30 days;
Officials will have to pay around EUR 5 for each paper copy of their expense statement;
Colleagues travelling outside the euro zone will have to pay an exchange commission of 2.5% of the amount of the transaction and EUR 3 per cash withdrawal instead of EUR 1 until the end of 2015. Of course, the Commission and the PMO have no plans to compensate for the additional expenses incurred by the many colleagues sent on mission outside the EU! These are no doubt new measures to ‘facilitate’ the work of colleagues on mission; or perhaps they are an illustration of the new ‘fit@work’ policy now in vogue at the Commission. The Commission and the PMO should:1- Consider missions as part of the entirety of the Commission’s work;2- Reduce the frequency of checks and therefore have confidence in the mechanisms already in place for approving requests for reimbursements.3- Intervene with the Bank Card and the PMO to ensure that the Bank Card is not used as a means of payment. Intervene with the “Bank Card Company / Master Card” to return to the 60-day payment deadline for this specific “corporate” contract, or to re-establish the system of advances: it is not the role of staff to act as the institution’s bank;4- Abolish the 2.5% exchange commission, or reimburse it to the project manager. Similarly, the charge for cash withdrawals outside the EU should be reverted to EUR 1 instead of EUR 3, and reimbursed, since the delegate is required to use the credit card;5- The EUR 5 charge for receiving bank statements from the card should also be abolished;6- Per diems and hotel reimbursements, which in some cases no longer cover the expenses incurred by delegates, should be reviewed. It should be noted that the ceilings have not been revised for many years.7- Refuse the envisaged reduction in per diems for missions to Luxembourg, as is apparently its intention.The Commission must therefore bring its administrative practices more into line with its declarations in favour of staff.

Working conditions and professional future

Geographical balance

La DG HR fixe ses priorités à l’attention de la Présidente-élue: l’équilibre géographique au sein de la fonction publique européenne constitue une de ses priorités !La Commission part d’un constat qu’elle a déjà fait dans le contexte de sa communication sur l’équilibre géographique (voir plus bas). Aujourd’hui, dix nationalités EUR15 (F, D, NL, LUX, AT, FIN, S, DK, PT, IE) sont en déficit et celui-ci risque encore d’augmenter avec les départs en pension massifs dans les prochaines années. Cette situation est liée au faible intérêt pour les carrières européennes des ressortissants hautement qualifiés de ces nationalités, bénéficiant d’un marché de l’emploi dynamique et de hauts niveaux de revenus. Ce faible intérêt est reflété par leur faible participation aux concours EPSO.L’article 27 du statut requiert un recrutement sur la base géographique la plus large possible ; il est sain que les institutions reflètent la diversité des Vingt-Sept, pour s’ancrer dans les Etats membres. En 2014, le législateur a introduit une base juridique qui permet d’organiser des concours par nationalité, en cas de déséquilibre géographique marqué et persistant au sein du personnel des institutions.La DG HR propose donc de recourir à cette mesure pour les nationalités en déséquilibre (moins de 80% du taux de référence), mais aussi de permettre des concours à des grades plus élevés pour des catégories de personnel difficiles à recruter. Dans ce dernier cas, cela revient à reconnaître les effets négatifs des deux dernières réformes du statut.Même si on comprend les problèmes posés par ces déséquilibres, il n’est pas certain que ce type de concours garantisse le caractère européen du recrutement et l’égale qualité du personnel recruté. Jusqu’à présent, les concours par nationalités étaient réservés aux pays nouvellement adhérents.La Commission travaille par ailleurs sur une Communication pour rendre plus attractives les carrières au sein des institutions. Ces carrières sont en effet relativement peu connues. L’image globale de la fonction publique européenne et des institutions, si elle devait s’améliorer, pourrait également accroitre l’attractivité du métier de fonctionnaire européen dans l’ensemble des Etats membres de l’Union.

Unified Communication & Collaboration (UCC) software

A new IT tool developed as part of the “working environment strategy for the future” provides many new possibilities for collaboration, flexibility, teleworking, etc. But it was introduced without prior warning or consultation. But it was introduced without prior warning or consultation.

U4U is calling for social dialogue, particularly on the elaborate system for tracking colleagues’ activity, which seems to be included in this software.

Summary of the information given by DIGIT to the Local Staff Committee in Brussels (Feb 2017)

Letter requesting social dialogue: Introduction of the UCC (Unified Communication & Collaboration service) software to the OIB

Workforce management at the Commission: between pessimism and anger

The Workplace of the Future in the European Commission (Oct 2019)

Ils l’ont dit :

Reflection paper on the Future of EU Finances   June 2017

“Finally, the successful implementation of EU policies depends on a strong and efficient European civil service. Since 2013, the EU institutions have honoured their commitment to reduce staff numbers. This has happened despite the addition of new responsibilities, for example in managing the refugee crisis or security threats, or in EU delegations abroad. The future EU budget should therefore provide for a strong European civil service, attractive to young talent from across the Union and able to respond to the priorities emerging from this reflection process. Decisions on future policies and instruments should take into account the impact on human resources.
Further downsizing could jeopardise the proper functioning of the EU institutions. Similarly, previous reforms have reduced salaries and increased working hours and retirement ages. It is clear that young people from Member States with relatively high per capita incomes are less and less inclined to join the EU institutions. Although working conditions are only one factor in these decisions, the trend is clear.”

European Parliament : Proposal for a Regulation on the Administrative Procedure of the EU’s institutions

The anti-cumulative rule

The anti cumulation rule : slides (2018)

Attention : these slides take into account some modifications not yet formalized into a decision.

Talent Management

Talent Management : une contribution de U4U au débat lancé par la VP Georgieva (draft)

Dealing with professional incompetence

Charts explaining the procedure for dealing with professional incompetence (Oct 2017)

Note à la DG HR du 23/11/2017 relative à la concertation technique sur la DGE ‘article 51’

We were pleased to note that the administrative concertation on Article 51 of the GIP went very well, taking into account most of our main requests concerning the central role played by DG HR, the new Joint Committee, consideration of the career context of the colleagues concerned, the introduction of remedial measures including a support plan and the possibility of mobility in the context of a staff policy which subscribes to the objective of improving their skills.

As part of the technical consultation to be held on 29 November, I am sending you our requests for clarification, which we believe will help to dispel certain negative perceptions about this issue, which, as you know, is very anxiety-provoking.

  1. The first request concerns the establishment of a five-year review clause, to enable a concrete assessment to be made, during the implementation of the DGE, that all expectations are in line with the wishes of the social dialogue partners, whether the administration or the unions, and that no drift is hindering this implementation.
  2. The second is to provide the Joint Committee for professional incompetence with annual information on cases of incompetence accepted by DG HR. This purely management measure will enable the Committee to prepare its work in advance. It seems to me that this request was accepted during the administrative concertation, but I don’t see it expressed in the latest version of the DGE.
  3. Finally, the mandate given to the DG HR department in charge of cases of professional incompetence should be broadened so that it looks not only at compliance with the procedure, or at the career development of the colleagues concerned, but also at the application of the measures provided for by our institution to improve professional skills and performance (addition to be included in article 10).

U4U proposes principles for dealing with professional incompetence (art 51 of the Staff Regulations). These proposals were included in the social dialogue agenda for March 2015.

U4U proposes some guidelines about incompetence (art 51 of the Staff Reg.)

Draft DGE on art. 51 (incompetence) Oct 2016

See also on MyIntracomm, HR, Talent Mngnt section, the booklet entitled “How to tackle Staff: Underperformance, best practice guide” .