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Do It Yourself Democracy Behind Closed Doors

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Do-It-Yourself Democracy Behind Closed Doors


Since the corruption scandal that hit Eurostat (DG ESTAT) in summer 2003 (!) forced Mr. Franchet into retirement, the Commission has been searching for a new Director General. The first one was an end-of-career place holder, appointed to gain time for an in depth search. His successor forgot to inform the Commission that he was dying of leukaemia, so another end-of-career place-holder had to be appointed soon. On April 23, 2008, the name of the next (fifth in this century) Director General has been published. Considering that the Commission has been "using up" one Director General per year during the recent past, we see that its process is probably in need of improvement.

The "D" in SID stands for "democracy in all decisions taken by groups of sane, adult humans". That applies to the Commission, now that Mdm. Cresson is history. So we are glad that the 27 Commissioners, at least, got a chance to vote on the new Director General. That is good, democratic practices.

Counting the various categories, Eurostat (DG ESTAT) has circa a thousand employees. Some of them have post-graduate degrees, others have decades of practical experience, some have both of those qualifications. None of the Commissioners have that kind of knowledge. The clear conclusion is that expertise and qualification are, at most, criteria among others. If they were the most important, some of the MSc and PhD at Eurostat would have been drafted into the selection process.

Now, the Commission overall has circa 30.000 employees. The officials among them satisfy "the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity" according to Article 27 of the Staff Regulations. The employees in the other categories must pass similar selection processes, so even if they do not reach the "highest" standard, they come close.

When the long, difficult process of reforming the CDR drew towards its end, the Commission had problems finding common ground with staff representatives, who may well have learned from bad experiences with the Kinnock Reform that it is dangerous to compulsively sign any paper tabled as a supposed "compromise".
According to the Framework Agreement, the Commission was left with two options. First, it could have consulted its "highest standard" staff. But it chose the second option; do-it-yourself-democracy behind closed doors.

If someone were to suggest that our 27 super-bosses are really the best-qualified people among nearly half a billion EU citizens to take these decisions, there would be a few replies, once the frenetic laughter had died down. We might suggest them contacting http://www.mensa.org/ and taking one of their IQ tests. Closer to home, we might dig some copies of our old Competition Papers out of our files. It would be interesting to see what scores the Commissioners obtain.

No one seriously thinks that the bosses are placed above us because of their superior "ability, efficiency and integrity". No. They have something much more important; political power.
There is no need for this undemocratic state of affairs to last into eternity. Two of the EU's Member States, Austria and Germany, installed systems of industrial democracy in the 1970s and have enjoyed a great deal of success because they are making more use of employees' capacities than the twenty-five others who rely on top-down industrial absolutism.

There was a time when Europe was governed by monarchs and aristocrats who scoffed at democracy as a quaint, ancient Greek custom of no practical importance. Now, a few centuries later we may ask "Whatever happened to Philip II, Louis XIV, Charles I, Wilhelm II etc.?" They are gone because in the long term, absolutism is too inefficient to survive in competition with democracy.


Created by: admin last modification: Friday 26 of September, 2008 [13:45:46 UTC] by admin

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