Demonstration in front of the EC Representation, issue with the temperature in the office, accessibility for the people with reduced mobility… These are just few of the many, which briefly describe the health and safety of the working environment of the staff outside of Brussels. This was the subject of the Local Staff Committee Brussels (LSC) plenary session of 11 June 2019 which hosted:
- Carsten Lietz – Head of Unit HR.BC;
- Alessandro Sebastio – Head of Sector Security and Business Continuity in the Representations, COMM.D.2.001;
- Moritz Rusch – Head of Sector Infrastructure in the Representations, COMM.D.2.003.
As Generation 2004 is the only organisation whose LSC member is a colleagues from the COM Representation (Natália Podkonická from Bratislava) the topic is of great importance to us. During that meeting the Generation 2004 elected team raised several questions related to safety and security.
DG COMM is responsible for the safety and security of the working environment for all staff in the EC Representations based in EU Member States.
The Representations normally share their premises with the offices of the European Parliament, therefore the buildings are known as “EU houses”. 33 buildings across EU (except Brussels and Luxembourg) from which 28 buildings share their premises with the Offices of the European Parliament. Buildings in Edinburg, Belfast, Cardiff, Athens and Bonn are separate from EP offices. Administrative arrangements regulate the relationship between Commission Representation and European Parliament and tasks and expenses as well. Head of Administration performs the role of the Local Security officer in the Representations.
The difference between EC Representation and the office of EP is that in the Representation the DG COMM deals with the Security and Safety. In the European Parliament there are two DGs in charge, DG INLO and DG SAFE. However, the safety regulations for EC and EP are same.
The Director General of DG COMM, as responsible for Health and Safety issues, sub-delegated the power to implement measures in this field to the Heads of Representations by decision of December 2012. However, the power of supervising and checking the compliance with these measures was delegated to the DG COMM Resources Directorate, namely unit COMM.D.2 and its Security and Infrastructure sectors.
To run things smoothly the DG COMM established working groups trying to harmonise decisions, procedures and standards. However, it is not always easy with the inter-institutional matters because rules, needs and awareness maintain two institutions that means two Heads.
Expenses relating to the security of persons and buildings include contracts for purchase, lease and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment, replacement of equipment for fire pickets, statutory inspection costs information and training sessions for staff. To give the staff the best place to work, anything that can improve this goal is welcome, even to encourage the staff to participate at the trainings.
There is a process how to secure and safe the working environment. The infrastructure and security team do visits and inspections of relevant EP/EC DGs on regular basis and in interaction with the staff, Head of Rep and other institutions. Sometimes the team has to use the local advisory opinion, this is especially the case of the safety where the national legislation applies.
The Commission defines the technical requirements of a project along with Parliament, finally the institution “Chef de file” (which can be the Representation or the Commission) launches a project. Afterwards it starts a tender procedure and DG COMM monitors the project until executed and waits for feedback from the Rep after completion.
The DG COMM is trying to define a common dossier with the Parliament to integrate the security and safety aspects. The team carries out systematic annual controls regarding fire safety, air handling units, first aid equipment and evacuation exercises. DG COMM contributes to the annual Health and Safety report of the European Commission, issued by DG HR.
According to DG COMM security contracts, guards are required to be trained and act as first responders. Reps are required to set up an internal system of evacuation stewards and perform building evacuations according to National legislations on a regular basis.
In 2018, the EC with the Parliament launched an audit in each Rep about the accessibility for people with reduced mobility. In 2018, the audit was executed in Reps of Budapest, Copenhagen, Valetta, The Hague, Lisbon, Nicosia, Sofia, Vienna and in 2019, 12 other places will follow, in particular Berlin, Bratislava, Helsinki, Ljubljana, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, Wroclaw, Zagreb.
All actions and activities are carried out in coordination with the Representations and with the close involvement of staff.
DG COMM is responsible for the safety in the building. Safety outside of the building is in responsibility of police. Therefore, the relation with police is very important and the Head of Rep is a key person in this connection.
If you would like to raise awareness about a specific issue at your EC Representation or you simply would like to ask a question, please contact us!