Dirty games and money for nothing

JULY 2014 – Dirty games and money for nothing (or “NEPOTISM REDEFINED” for the more discerning): How the EC used the veil of an internal competition to parachute the well-connected into top positions


The first results of the internal competitions were published on the Commission intranet. Hey ho! Like every fifth year it is again parachute-jumping season in the European Commission. Our HR pros, who say of themselves: “Our staff are dedicated to making the civil service of the European Union a modern, effective and dynamic organisation, fit for the challenges of the 21st century”, have again found a way to hand out the silken parachutes to the privileged few.

These internal “competitions” were of course primarily designed, right from the start, to offer high-paying permanent positions to non-permanent CAB staff and camouflage this by allowing some other non-CAB colleagues to pass as well, mostly to inferior grades. Consequently, the list for the AD10/AD12 ‘not-much-of-a-competition’ contains about 20 names of colleagues from the CABs plus some other high-flyers from BEPA and the spokesperson’s office.

Suspicions that this “competition” was rigged right from the start arose immediately after DG HR circulated a first draft early last year. It foresaw that all the lower grades had to do a first round of computer based tests (CBTs), whereas for the AD 10-12 segment it was proposed that a CV and an interview would be enough. When Generation 2004 and other unions complained, instead of changing the AD 10-12 qualifier to a CBT, they decided to base the whole exercise on the so-called ‘talent screener’.

Indeed, since HR could not run the risk of blue-blooded cabinets and other high-level ‘talent’ failing, they did not for a moment hesitate to come up with the magical-mysterious ‘talent screener’ solution, whereby answers about a candidate’s qualifications are assessed in a comparative, and hence totally subjective manner, by the selection board.
Unfortunately, that is by no means the end of the plot!

During the ‘negotiations’ on the internal competition DG HR had clearly stated that (in contrast to AST or AD7-9) AD10 and AD12 laureates would not automatically benefit from those higher grades, but they would only move “up” to AD10 or AD12 if there is a published need for such advisors, and if they are selected as the most suitable candidate for those posts.

But what happens now, is the pinnacle of hypocrisy and nepotism: now that the new statute (since 2014) no longer foresees advisor positions at AD10 or AD12, DG HR found itself in the embarrassing position that the lists established through the internal competition would no longer be useable. Instead of simply burying the list, like they did with so many other lists of common and lesser-deserving mortals in the past, they decided to appoint the laureates anyway to permanent jobs and/or higher AD10 or AD12 grades even though they continue to do exactly the same job as before!
And of course, most of these “promotions” will be cannibalised from the rightful promotions of others, whose talent the highly-dubious ‘screener’ hasn’t recognised; remembering that since there was never a budget for this exercise, DG HR intends to fund it by slowing down other colleague’ promotions. Now how fair is that dear “Guardian of the Treaties”?!?!?!

All in all, this means that around 40 lucky (including some genuinely-meriting) colleagues will get up to 40 % salary raise instantly without any change in their job. Overall, the total cost of this generous operation amounts to roughly 1 million € per year extra expenses – in spite of the legislator’s clear wish to limit such high grades of which there is already a “Mexican-army-ful” in the European Commission.

Many colleagues will find this hard to understand and many are indeed outraged by this dirty game: not just because it is deeply unfair and reeks of nepotism, but also because in a time of staff cuts, longer working hours, 0% salary adjustments … etc, the Commission still finds the resources for throwing money out of the window! We dare say that never ever in the past has dissatisfaction and disillusion with the Commission’s HR been so high among colleagues.

Congratulations again dear Commission, you really have something to be proud of!
While the Roman orgy goes on, somebody will have to clean up the mess, and this somebody will be the post-2004 and now also the post-2014 generation, as all of this happens on their back. Last but not least, such irresponsible practices will seriously weaken the Commission’s negotiating position when maybe even sooner than expected, we are inevitably faced with demands for further cuts from Member States and/or the European Parliament.

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