Internal competitions: EU institutions doing it differently

Contrary to the oft-repeated instructions that those applying for any internal competition [1] must belong to the same function group (here too), there are no Staff Regulations provisions that prohibit or limit the participation e.g. of officials AST/SC staff in AST internal competitions.

It is exactly because there are no legal restrictions, other EU institutions (the European Parliament, the Court of Justice, and the Committee of the Regions) allow AST/SC staff to apply for AST posts in their internal competitions.

In 2016 and 2018 Commission internal competitions, AST/SC staff were allowed to apply for AST/SC2 posts only and excluded from applying for AST posts.

While there is a dedicated internal competitions page on Staff Matters, it fails to specify and explain the legal framework for the internal competitions of the EU institutions, including the European Commission.

The general legal provision related to internal competitions is Article 29(1)(d) of the Staff Regulations (SR) [2]. There are also special legal provisions related to internal competitions that are applicable to specific categories of staff. Article 29(3) SR applies to members of the temporary staff engaged in accordance with Article 2(c) [3]. Article 82(7) Conditions of Employment of other servants (CEOS) is applicable to members of the contract staff in function groups II, III and IV [4].

The notice of the 2016 Commission’s internal competition correctly identifies the legal basis as Article 29(1)(d) SR [5]. However, the notice of the 2018 Commission’s internal competition wrongly refers to Art. 29(1)(b) SR instead of Art. 29(1)(d) SR [6].

In the light of the above, we strongly urge DG HR in the context of the ongoing staff consultation on the New HR Strategy proposal to reconsider its position and to allow qualified AST/SC staff to apply for AST posts in internal competitions, enabling the Commission to make best use of existing talent, skills and experience.

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[1] Updated 18.10.2021 the Commission insistence on candidates belonging already to that function group. No such restrictions are listed in the Staff Regulations: if AST or AST/SC satisfy the conditions in  Article 29(1)(d), they should be allowed, but DG HR introduces additional requirements (e.g. COM/AD/01/20 (AD5)) excluding officials and temporary agents in FG AST and AST/SC

In July 2020 we addressed a note to Ms Ingestad on this issue.

‘2) Specific conditions – function group
On the closing date for online applications you must be a temporary agent in the AD function group.
3) Specific conditions – statutory link and administrative status
You must:
a) have spent at least the 6 months before the closing date for online applications as a temporary agent in the function group required under point 2) above;
AND
b) have spent at least the 12 months before the closing date for online applications as a temporary agent or contract agent in the Commission.
The following periods serve for the calculation of the required months under a) and b): periods with the administrative status ‘in active employment’, ‘on leave for military service’,
‘on parental or family leave’ or ‘on leave on personal grounds’ within the meaning of Articles 35 et seq. of the Staff Regulations.’

[2] 1. Before filling a vacant post in an institution, the appointing authority shall first consider:

(d) whether to hold a competition internal to the institution, which shall be open only to officials and temporary staff as defined in Article 2 of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Union [CEOS].

[3] 3.  The institutions may organise internal competitions for each function group on the basis of qualifications and tests for the institution concerned which shall be at grade AST 6-level or higher and at grade AD 9-level or higher.

These competitions will be open only to members of the temporary staff of that institution engaged in accordance with Article 2(c) of the Conditions of Employment of other Servants of the European Union. The institutions shall require as minimum qualifications for these competitions at least ten years of service as a temporary servant and having been recruited as a temporary servant on the basis of a selection procedure which ensured the application of the same standards as for the selection of officials in conformity with Article 12(4) of the Conditions of Employment of other servants. By derogation from paragraph (1)(a) of this Article, the Appointing Authority of the institution that engaged the temporary servant shall, before filling a vacant post in that institution, consider transfers of officials within the institution in parallel with successful candidates from these internal competitions.

[4] 7.  Contract staff in function groups II, III and IV may be authorised to take part in internal competitions only after having completed three years of service in the institution. Contract staff in function group II may have access only to competitions at grades SC 1 to 2, in function group III at grades AST 1 to 2 and in function group IV at grades AST 1 to 4 or at grades AD 5 to 6. The total number of candidates who are members of the contract staff and who are appointed to vacant posts at any of those grades shall never exceed 5 % of the total number of appointments to those function groups made per year in accordance with the second paragraph of Article 30 of the Staff Regulations.

[5] ‘The Commission is organising three internal competitions based on tests under Article 29(1)(d) of the Staff Regulations and Article 82(7) of the CEOS to constitute a reserve from which to recruit secretaries/clerks in grade 2 (AST/SC2), assistants in grade 2 (AST2) and administrators in grade 6 (AD6).’

[6]‘The European Commission (‘the Commission’) is organising three internal competitions based on tests under Article 29(1)(b) of the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union (‘Staff Regulations’) and article 82(7) of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants to constitute a reserve from which to recruit secretaries/clerks in grade 2 (AST/SC2), assistants in grade 2 (AST2) and administrators in grade 6 (AD6).’

It is true that the legal basis for internal competitions applicable to officials AST/SC staff is indeed the general provision contained in Article 29(1)(d) SR.

5 thoughts on “Internal competitions: EU institutions doing it differently

    1. Thanks for getting in touch with Generation 2004. Your point is correct: there are no staff regulation limitations for those meeting the eligibility criteria. We’ve added footnote 1 for clarification. Thanks for your input!

  1. Yes, a certification process that also imposes additional requirements not provided for in the Staff Regulation: having two appraisals AFTER the AST5 level. In addition, you have only one opportunity (if you are one of the lucky guys selected by your DG), while in the internal competitions you can try several times per year. I think that you focus too much in AST/SC and the AST are completely forgotten.

    1. Thanks for getting in touch with Generation 2004.
      Please check out our articles ‘Certified ASTs: an endangered species?’ (https://generation2004.eu/certified-asts-an-endangered-species/) and ‘Certification in the JRC – one size does not fit all’ (https://generation2004.eu/certification-in-the-jrc-one-size-does-not-fit-all/) where we discuss the issues you raise.
      We also have a range of articles on certification (https://generation2004.eu/http:/generation2004.eu/category/certification/) and on ASTs, including a frequently asked questions from our meeting dedicated to AST issues (18.11.2021) (https://generation2004.eu/http:/generation2004.eu/category/staff-categories/assistants/).
      From our manifesto: ‘Against this backdrop, Generation 2004 considers that the way forward must be for the Commission to increase the number of AST colleagues allowed to become ADs via certification.’ (https://generation2004.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Generation-2004-Political-Manifesto-2021.pdf)
      The Generation 2004 team is made up of staff from all function group and contract types. Many of us are ASTs.
      Please send us your ideas for further action and let’s see what we can make happen!

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