European Civil Service

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The European Civil Service is the civil service serving the institutions of the European Union, of which the largest employer is the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. It is the permanent bureaucracy that implements the decisions of the Union's government.

Civil servants are recruited directly into the institutions after being selected by competitions set by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), the official selection office. They are allocated to departments, known as Directorates-General (DGs), each covering one or more related policy areas.

Directorates-General[edit]

The Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs or the services), each headed by a director-general, and various other services. Each covers a specific policy area or service such as External Relations or Translation and is under the responsibility of a European Commissioner. DGs prepare proposals for their Commissioners which can then be put forward for voting in the college of Commissioners.[1]

Whilst the Commission's DGs cover similar policy areas to the ministries in national governments, European Civil Servants have not necessarily been trained, or worked, in a national civil service before employment in the EU. On entry, they do not therefore share a common administrative culture.

List of Directorates-General[edit]

The Directorates-General are divided into four groups: Policy DGs, External relations DGs, General Service DGs and Internal Service DGs. Internally, the DGs are referred to by their abbreviations; provided below.

Departments (DGs)
DG Abb. Relevant Commissioner
Agriculture and Rural Development AGRI European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
Budget BUDG European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget
Climate Action CLIMA European Commissioner for Climate Action
Connect CNECT European Commissioner for Digital Agenda
Communication COMM European Commissioner for Communication
Competition COMP European Commissioner for Competition
Economic and Financial Affairs ECFIN European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs
Education and Culture EAC European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion EMPL European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Energy ENER European Commissioner for Energy
Enlargement ELARG European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Enterprise and Industry ENTR European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Environment ENV European Commissioner for the Environment
EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DEVCO European Commissioner for Development
Eurostat ESTAT European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
Foreign Policy Instruments Service EEAS High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Health and Consumers SANCO European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy
Home Affairs HOME European Commissioner for Home Affairs
Humanitarian Aid ECHO European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Human Resources and Security HR European Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
Informatics DIGIT
Internal Market and Services MARKT European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
Interpretation SCIC
Joint Research Centre JRC European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Justice JUST European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries MARE European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Mobility and Transport MOVE European Commissioner for Transport
Regional Policy REGIO European Commissioner for Regional Policy
Research and Innovation RTD European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Secretariat General SG
Taxation and Customs Union TAXUD European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
Trade TRADE European Commissioner for Trade
Translation DGT

List of services[edit]

Services
Bureau of European Policy Advisers BEPA
Central Library
European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF
European Commission Data Protection Officer
Historical archives
Infrastructures and Logistics - Brussels OIB
Infrastructures and Logistics - Luxembourg OIL
Internal Audit Service IAS
Legal Service SJ
Office For Administration And Payment Of Individual Entitlements PMO
Publications Office OP

Hierarchy[edit]

During the 1980s, the Commission was primarily dominated by French, German and Italian cultural influences, including a strictly hierarchical organisation. Commissioners and Directors-General were referred to by their title (in French) with greater prestige for those of higher ranks. As one former servant, Derk Jan Eppink has put it, even after new servants had passed the tough entrance exams: "Those at the top counted for everything. Those at the bottom counted for nothing."[2] The chef de cabinet of President Jacques Delors, Pascal Lamy, was particularly notable for his immense influence over other civil servants. He became known as the Beast of the Berlaymont, the Gendarme and the Exocet due to his habit of ordering civil servants, even Directors-General (head of departments) "precisely what to do - or else." He was seen as ruling Delors's office with a "rod of iron", with no-one able to bypass or manipulate him and those who tried being "banished to one of the less pleasant European postings".[3]

However, since the enlargement of the EU, and therefore the arrival of staff from the many newer Member States, there has been a change in the culture of the civil service. New civil servants from northern and eastern states brought in new influences while the Commission's focus has shifted more to "participation" and "consultation". A more egalitarian culture took over with Commissioners no longer having a "status equivalent to a sun God" and with this new populism, the first women were appointed to the Commission in the 1990s and the service gained its first female secretary general in 2006 (Catherine Day). In stark contrast to the 1980s, it is not uncommon to see men without ties and children playing football in the corridors.[4]

Grades[edit]

Staff are divided into a set of grades: from AD 5, the most junior administrator grade, to AD 16, which is a director-general (AD = administrator). Alongside the AD category is AST (assistant). It is now possible for civil servants to be promoted from AST to AD grade, not previously possible (see below); however in practice the grades remain entrenched.[5] While promotion is in theory according to merit, many management posts are now taken by officials 'parachuted in' from member states. Moreover, staff reforms introduced in 2004 have severely reduced the possibilities for career progression and have created divisions within the service, with pre-2004 entrants enjoying greater pay and privileges. According to the Commission's own internal statistics, even though new officials possess an average of eight years work experience, it would take an average of over 40 years to climb from AD 5 to AD 16.

Prior to this new system, introduced in the 2000s, servants were traditionally divided into four categories. "A" was policy making (what is now AD), "B' was implementing, "C" was secretarial and "D" was drivers and messengers (B, C and D are now all part of the AST category). There were various grades in each category. The major ranks used to be in the form of A7 (new appointment) to A1 (director-general).[5]

Staff[edit]

The Commission's civil service is headed by a Secretary General, currently Catherine Day.[6] According to figures published by the Commission, 23,600 persons were employed by the Commission as officials and temporary agents in April 2013. In addition to these, 9066 "external staff" were employed; these are largely people employed on time-limited contracts (called "contractual agents" in the jargon), staff seconded from national administrations (called "Detached National Experts"), or trainees (called "stagiaires"). The single largest DG is the Directorate-General for Translation, with 2261 staff.[7]

European civil servants are sometimes referred to in the anglophone press as "Eurocrats" (a term coined by Richard Mayne, a journalist and personal assistant to the first Commission president, Walter Hallstein).;[8] high-ranking officials are sometimes referred to as "European Mandarins".[citation needed]

Nationality[edit]

There are staff from all member states, with the largest group being Belgian (18.5% - 4,364, no other nationality exceeds 10%), who are hence massively over represented, probably due to a majority (17,496) of staff being based in the country.[7] However, much of this number is accounted for by staff in the lower grades.

Most administration is based in the Belgian capital,[7] Often, those states under-represented in the service tend to have more of their nationals in the higher ranks.[9]

Qualifications[edit]

One of the entry qualifications for the European civil service is that the candidate speak at least two of the official European languages, one of which must be English, French or German. Prior to their first promotion, officials must demonstrate competence in a third EU official language.

A candidate also needs to have a first degree in any discipline. The services have traditionally hired candidates with degrees in Law, Economics, or Audit; competition is tougher for graduates of all other disciplines, although the procedure for the open competitions, known as "Concours", is now under review.

Salary and allowances[edit]

EU civil and other servants work 40 hours a week, though they are theoretically available 24/7. They receive a minimum of 24 days of leave a year (maximum of 30), with additional leave entitlements on grounds of age, grade and distance from home country.

The lowest grades receive between €1.618,83 brutto (FG 1 step 1)[10] each month, while the highest grades (AD 15-16 - i.e. Directors General at the end of their career) receives between €14,822.86 and €16,094.79 a month. This salary is taxed by the EU, rather than at the national level. Taxation varies between 8% and 45% depending on individual circumstances. This is paid into the Community budget.[11]

Earnings are augmented by allowances, such as allowances for those living outside their own country, those who are the principal earner in their household, those with children in full-time education, and those who are moving home. Earnings are also lowered by various additional taxes (i.e. "Special Levy" alias 'crisis levy' introduced in 1973 and increasing regularly every year) and indexes (for EU staff working out-side Brussels).

Employees contribute about 11.3% of their basic salary to a pension scheme,[12] and the maximum retirement pension is 70% of their final basic salary for 35 years' service. For a contribution of 2% basic salary, employees are provided with health insurance which covers a maximum of 85% of expenses (100% for serious injury).[11]

Salaries were considerably reduced for new entrants from 1 May 2004 onwards as a result of a significant number of reforms effected by Commissioner Neil Kinnock. Staff undertaking the same work may receive very different salaries, depending on their date of recruitment. Careers are also sharply affected, with new staff tending to constitute a 'second division' of workers with limited managerial prospects. As a consequence of these changes, the institutions recruit with difficulty staff from certain countries like UK, Luxembourg, Denmark as wages are the same or lower than in the home country. In some countries (like Luxembourg) the lowest wages (FG I - FG II) are even under the legal minimum salary in the respective country, which raise the question about legality of such terms of employment.

In January 2010, The European Commission took the EU member states to court over the Member States' refusal to honour a long-standing formula under which wages for the staff of the European institutions are indexed to the salaries of national civil servants [1]. The formula led to a salary adjustment of 3.7% but the Council, representing the member states, was only willing to grant a pay rise of 1.85% .[13] A decision by the European Court of Justice is expected in early 2011.[14] It has been noted that the ECJ judges who will decide in this case are themselves to benefit from any salary increase agreed.[15] To be noted that the index is published and applied one year and half later, and this delay cause the quarrels like in the 2010 (full crisis) where should be applied the adaptation related to the increases of wages of the national civil servants from 2007-8; while in 2011 the index was already negative (as the national wages has been lowered).

Other criticisms[edit]

It has been alleged that, for want of a common administrative culture, European Civil Servants are held together by a "common mission" which gives DGs a particularly enthusiastic attitude to the production of draft legislation regardless of the intentions of the Commissioner.[16] They are also notably bound by their common procedures, which have become a sacred rite in the absence of a common administrative culture. The Secretariat-General, knowing all on such procedures, hence have a semi divine status in the Commissions ranking, just below the President's cabinet.[17]

There has been some criticism that the highly fragmented DG structure wastes a considerable amount of time in turf wars as the different departments and Commissioners compete with each other, as is the case in national administrations. Furthermore the DGs can exercise considerable control over a Commissioner unless the Commissioner learns to assert control over his/her staff.[18][19] The DGs work closely with the Commissioner's cabinet. While the DG has responsibility for preparation of work and documents, the cabinet has responsibility for giving the Commissioner political guidance. However, in practice both seek a share of each other's work.[20] It has been alleged that some DGs try to influence decision making by providing Commissioners with briefing documents as late and large as possible, ensuring that the Commissioner has no time to do anything but accept the version of facts presented by the DG. In doing this the DG is competing with the cabinet, which acts as a "bodyguard" for the Commissioner.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Eppink, Derk-Jan; Ian Connerty (translator) (2007). Life of a European Mandarin: Inside the Commission (1st edition ed.). Tielt, Belgium: Lannoo. ISBN 978-90-209-7022-7. 
  1. ^ "Institutions of the EU: The European Commission". Europa (web portal). Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  2. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.32
  3. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.22-3
  4. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.34-5
  5. ^ a b Eppink, 2007, p.37
  6. ^ "Interview with European Commission Secretary-General Catherine Day". EurActiv. 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  7. ^ a b c "Civil Service: Staff figures.". Europa (web portal). Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  8. ^ Tindall, Gillian (22 December 2009). "Richard Mayne obituary". The Guardian (London). p. 30. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  9. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.35
  10. ^ Chapter 7, page II-30, Staff Regulation,
  11. ^ a b COUNCIL REGULATION (EC, EURATOM) No 723/2004, Annex I, Amendment 60
  12. ^ COUNCIL REGULATION (EU, EURATOM) No 1295/2009 of 22 December 2009 adjusting with effect from 1 July 2009 the rate of contribution to the pension scheme of officials and other servants of the European Union
  13. ^ http://www.euractiv.com/en/pa/eu-civil-servant-pay-row-goes-court/article-188646
  14. ^ http://www.euractiv.com/en/pa/eu-officials-set-salary-reduction-news-498443
  15. ^ Waterfield, Bruno (2010-01-06). "EU mounts challenge to MEP pay rise cuts". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  16. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.111
  17. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.218
  18. ^ Amies, Nick (2007-09-21). "Former EU Mandarin Spills the Beans on Commission Intrigue". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  19. ^ Mahony, Honor (2007-10-17). "EU carefully manages PR through 1000s of press releases". EU Observer. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  20. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.109
  21. ^ Eppink, 2007, p.107-8

Further reading[edit]

  • Eppink, Derk-Jan; Ian Connerty (translator) (2007). Life of a European Mandarin: Inside the Commission (1st edition ed.). Tielt, Belgium: Lannoo. ISBN 978-90-209-7022-7. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Center for Adaptation of Civil Service to the Standards of EU - public institution established by the Decree of Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to facilitate administrative reform in Ukraine and to enhance the adaptation of the civil service to the standards of the European Union.