About two weeks ago Generation 2004, in close cooperation with a couple of colleagues from DG COMM’s EC Representations, launched a short survey on rotation and mobility in DG COMM. Thanks to all responders, mainly from Representations (94%), not only we are now sure the system needs to change, but we also know what are the most pressing issues DG COMM staff working in the EC Representations faces today.
The current rules on rotation in EC representations, which entered into force 11 years ago and are only applicable to Officials, stipulate a maximum length of the assignments to either 5 or 7 (5+2) years in an EC Representation (with the exception of Heads of Representations who serve a maximum of 5 years). These rules are very well known to responders: 91% are aware of them.
Regarding the reasons for the existence of rotation rules, there is no clear winner. However, factors linked with general needs to change staff take precedence with 186 selections, against 101 for reasons related to revitalisation, and 85 for easier placement/removal of staff. The high number of answers on the revitalization and easier placement/removal reasons sound somehow scary to us; it hints staff believes mobility is used to punish unwanted staff from any given EC Representation as opposed to properly addressing underperformance via the appraisal and promotion exercises as prescribed by the Staff Regulations.
The situation related to challenges that EC Representation’s colleagues face is quite different though. But before we go into details, it is important to note that a 62% majority of answers came from the countries with a coefficient corrector below 100%. Family related problems totalled 102 voices taking the lead (finding work for partner, international schools availability/costs and travelling to keep contact with relatives). Responders pointed out also inadequate salary allowances to cover extra costs of life (91 voices), limited training possibilities (72 voices) and return to HQ after posting in the EC Representation (67 voices), as issues that should be handled out as soon as possible to make both EC Representations and DG COMM HQ (after return) more attractive working places. Least problematic are learning of a new local language (16 voices) and poor medical service in some countries (18 voices).
The survey concluded with a question on how current rotation rules in terms of posting times are perceived. Only 18% of the responders believe current posting times are completely adequate. Most of the responders would like to see a flexible system taking interest of the service into account to be implemented (45%). Differentiating rotation rules based on type of contract/post would be welcomed by just 17% of staff, while a lower 14% of staff would be happy with a general extension of posting time. Finally, only 9 voices were raised towards shortening the length of postings.
With all this in view, our conclusion is that after 11 years of experience with the current rotation rules – there is a clear need for change. Stay tuned to our future proposal on this subject and if you have ideas you believe should be considered then please let us know!