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CA EEAS Ref 01

DIRECTORATE-GENERAL
HUMAN RESOURCES AND SECURITY
COMITÉ LOCAL DU PERSONNEL SECTION HORS UNION
B-1049 Bruxelles - Belgique - Bureau JII-79 (bloc C) 07/207
Phone: (+32-2)296.42.18 E-mail : (Brussels)
site web: http://www.cc.cec/fpfis/blogs/ccp-csc/fr/(external link)
(President – Outside the Union Section- Delegation Ecuador)

Bruxelles, 29/06/2013
CLPHU - (13) – HC-25
Note to the Attention of the President of the European Commission
Mr. Manuel BARROSO

Subject: Contract Agents – disproportionate impact of the proposed changes to the Staff Regulations

Reference: Staff Regulations /a message from Vice President ŠEFČOVIČ – 27/06/2013 /Compromise Text

Dear President,
After studying the "compromise text" of the inter-institutional pre-agreement concerning the
proposed modifications to the Staff Regulations (SR), the "Outside the EU" Local Section of the
Central Staff Committee is compelled to convey the negative reactions of Contract Agents (CAs) serving in Delegations all over the world, who are veritably shocked and dismayed at the disproportionate way in which proposed changes to the SR will impact on them in particular, not to mention AST officials who are also on a lower income bracket and the most vulnerable staff category, Local Agents.

The CLP HU fails to understand the economic rationale of the proposed radical deterioration of
conditions provided by Annex X such as a 40% reduction in leave, in addition to the other attacks on the SR involving living and working conditions – frozen pay, higher taxes, longer working week, lower pension, less support with housing, slower promotion… to list but some of the more obvious deteriorations. How does the worsening of employment conditions that do not bring about savings such as reducing leave by 18 days a year on expatriated staff with non-competitive salaries going to help building a better EEAS and delivery of COMM services around the world? For most, life in Delegations entails a range of significant sacrifices by fine professionals, their families and even their relationships with their partners whatever the location. In our commitment to fight poverty or promote EU interests in over 140 Delegations, most COMM staff undertake field missions to the remotest places and expose themselves to life-threatening dangers, a reality which might not be apparent for those who only look at Embassies as privileged postings in the capital of tropical cities.

For Contract Agents in particular (CA3a on indefinite contracts in Delegations), expatriation on
behalf of the Commission is becoming increasingly non-viable. Whilst our counterparts in international organisations, development agencies or consultancies with similar qualifications and often accountable for much smaller volumes of funds earn more than double the average CA, the only comparative advantage for the EU as an employer has been the special provisions foreseen under Annex X – currently under threat. The current lack of professional career perspectives, of a structured mobility system, of extraordinary differences in salary scales compared to Officials and of the downwards trends in ICV aggravated by lower housing ceilings, and of travel allowances will have a disproportionate impact on CAs.
Recently, CAs from around the world submitted to your services a CA in Delegation petition
suggesting cost-effective measures (delivered in person by the CLP HU President to DDG HR Mr.
Frutuoso de Melo on 13/06/2013) advocating for a more efficient and effective use of CA Human Resources whilst adjusting expectations in line with current austerity measures.
Indeed, the pre-agreement indicates allowing access to internal competitions for CAs, which on first reading rings positive (just one of the several cost-effective proposals petitioned to you). Yet, the actual limitations set out in the "compromise text" not only limit the impact and usefulness of access ‘Internal Competitions’ for CAs but moreover, imply a blatant and dismissive attitude towards CAs' legitimate demands.
Limiting access to ‘Internal Competitions’ on an “exceptional” basis and with a ceiling of “5% of the total number of appointments to each function groups made per year” implies that the chances to succeed in ‘Internal Competitions’ would actually be in most cases just as low as in most Open Competitions1. Under such terms, the current pre-agreement is not adding any form of meritocratic recognition of loyal service of CAs and hence will not constitute an incentive for CAs to stay with the EU.
Please note that any restrictions to recruitment based on merit motivated in view of securing geographical balance fundamentally contradict point 2c) of the same "compromise text". Whilst it seems unjustified to limit recruitment of CAs, increasing the proposed ceiling from 5% to 30% of the appointments would make the ratio more manageable hence more reasonably meritocratic and this would still not constitute a significant source of geographical imbalance.

There are alternative mechanisms for the EU, other than hampering CAs career development, to
redress geographical balance. Limiting recruitments to maximum AD6 is yet another unnecessary way of punishing CAs and will bring no savings. This should be left to the discretion of the Appointing Authority and not structurally limited by the SR. Why should the AIPN be restricted in recruiting CAs to AD6 at most when the economic rationale of Internal Competitions is to capitalize on in-house staff expertise? Why should the SR structurally impose regressive appointments to positions that acknowledge no professional experience (AD5) or only three years (AD6)? Why should CAs be discriminated vis-à-vis TAs in this sense?
If the COMM wishes to motivate CAs, especially those with considerable years of valuable
professional experience both within and outside the EU, limiting access to level AD5 (no
experience) / AD6 (3 years experience) will fail the purpose since it is yet another unnecessary
limitation which will bring no savings.

The proposed Draconian changes to Annex-X coupled with the proposed extremely limited access to Internal Competitions will mean that for many CAs career perspectives not being a reliable prospect considerations will focus on whether it is viable for CAs at all to remain indefinitely as expatriates serving in Delegations (likewise for low grade ASTs, tough just temporarily). Accordingly, it is only a matter of time before the EU witnesses a substantial acceleration in the number of resignations of highly qualified CAs worldwide which will cause irreversible damage. As CAs leave the service, they will take with them years of tax payers investments in their recruitment (according to figures, every recruit through EPSO costs approx. EUR 60,000), in their training and acquired skills. Needless to point at the challenges that Officials will confront in handling EU Aid without due in-house expert assistance and the challenges in ensuring business continuity. Already at HQ level, the COMM is having difficulty with current incentives to find Officials as candidates for posts in Delegations as indicated below in the minutes of the recent "Operational conclusions of the Management Meeting of 17/06/2013" of senior DEVCO management:

4. Revision of annex X to the staff regulation
Given that all positive incentives for staff to leave for delegations have proven
insufficient, Management reiterated the need for exploring–with HR and LS’s assistance–the possibilities to enforce mobility as per engagement of AD officials upon recruitment in
DEVCO by linking it, inter alia, to the speed of promotions and for management positions.
Mr. President, DEVCO's management having to impose and enforce expatriation rather than
managing competitive applications such as other International Organisations manage to do for, is a sign of problematic employment conditions. To sustain the current output the EU civil service has become dependent on CAs' loyal commitment which transcends what they are contracted to do. CAs now need the proof that the European Commission values them in a crucial moment where morale is at an all-time low given the lack of career prospects aggravated by the Workload Assessment in Delegations, forced CA transfers, suppression of CA posts and now the betrayal to our legitimate expectations as per the provisions of Annex-X on top of the attack to the SR.

The 'Outside the EU' / CLP HU calls on the President of the European Commission to safeguard the integrity of the principles that enshrine the EU with regards to CAs Career Development and the defend the very terms of the Special and exceptional provisions applicable to officials serving in a third country (Annex X to the Staff Regulations) to ensure that the more vulnerable staff categories are not disproportionately affected by the proposed cuts.

Helen CONEFREY
CLPHU President
DG HR: Vice-President Sefcovic, DG HR Souka, DDG Frutuoso de Melo, Mr. Roques
EEAS: High Representative Ms Ashton, Mr O'Sullivan, Mr. Child
DG DEVCO: Commissioner Piebags, DG DEVCO Fotiadis, Mr. Papaioannou, Ms Graykowski
Central Staff Committee, REP PERS CLP HU, EEAS SC

1 At very best 1/400 ratio for AD6 positions and 1/60 for AD5 whilst Specialist AD7 for Aid Management was 1/50