Internal competitions – Time for collective action!

*Please see 27.01.2021 update*

In the wake of the announcement by DG HR of yet another very discriminatory internal competition (IC), Generation 2004 organised a conference to debate the matter. According to our analysis, this IC excludes over 16 000 potentially eligible candidates. Although other institutions allow anyone who meets the education and experience criteria to take part, the Commission is definitely doing it differently.

Contrary to the bright future DG HR promises in the New HR Strategy:

3. Careers – Giving staff the support, training and perspectives for their careers to thrive… Career prospects for all staff (Coordination and leadership functions for non-permanent staff, regular cross-function groups internal competitions)… Performance management… Early identification of talent

we have not yet seen any action matching those promises to include all staff. Otherwise, where is any  consideration for all the ASTs, AST-SCs, TA and CAs? The hard truth is that colleagues in these groups have been systematically excluded for years on end, even if many of them have worked in the Commission for 10-20 years. To makes things worse, many of them are working on tasks that are beyond those set out for their function group [1]. In parallel they are being promised recognition (promotion / reclassification), but the reality is many of them are still paid peanuts. If this is not discrimination and exploitation than what is it? We already wrote to Director-General Ingestad on this very issue in September 2020 and provided detailed related recommendations on the new HR Strategy at the very beginning of the process  (November 2020, p.6).


  1. Close the career gap between pre-2004 and post-2004-post-2014 staff and restore geographical balance in all categories through:
  2. regular internal competitions based exclusively on competence without entry restrictions with respect to grade, category and chosen fields.
  3. open competitions for all grades provided for in the staff regulations.

By now it is more than clear that the Commission is slowly but steadily replacing permanent staff with temporary staff to whom they do not need to fulfil any promises: e.g. currently over 22 % of the Commission’s workforce are CAs. There is no need then for commitments, no pension rights and then “adieu”! Anyway, after 6 years (unless they win the unicorn and get the 7th year) these colleagues are gone and whatever the Commission invested in them is gone too, including their valuable talent and experience. Note that the latest idea of raising this 6/7-year limit only kicks the can down the road: those leaving have even more knowledge and experience and the Commission’s loss is even greater (Manifesto, p.16) How does this impact business continuity? That’s dumped on the shoulders of those who remain, those who must train the newcomers “à nouveau“, knowing that these colleagues must also leave when the limit is reached.

Moreover, we can see that DG HR is phasing out ASTs, many of these roles are being recategorised as AST-SC (often with no change in job description, when that description clearly relates to AST tasks [1] and often while that role is still occupied) and there are no AST competitions for prospective candidates: it’s AST-SC or nothing. As an example of career mobility, the Commission often highlights that ASTs have certification to enable them to join the AD function group, but there is no certification equivalent for AST-SCs, ASTs TA and AST-SCs TA. Also, to be preselected for the panel interview and to then pass is however only for the chosen ones (2020/2021: 356 applied and 341 were considered eligible for 50 places). Many colleagues try for years but if they are not working in policy, or based in Brussels, or visible to a director or director general, then the odds might be stacked against them, such as appears to be the case for JRC candidates.

But what can we do? Many colleagues are outraged, disappointed, frustrated and demotivated, you name it. So, are we! It is time to demonstrate our dissatisfaction; thanks to the many colleagues who have contacted us to take action!

What are our options for action?  

1. Legal action
Generation 2004 has already discussed this matter with our external lawyer, and we are ready to launch a common legal action. When and if time comes, if you would like to join you must make sure you have done the following:  

    • First and most importantly apply for the IC by 21 December 2021 (midday) 12:00, Brussels time even if you are not eligible. 
    • If the selection panel rejects your application based on non-eligibility, appeal that decision. 
    • Launch an Article 90.2 (complaint)* against the discriminatory nature of the IC; (deadline three months after the launch of the competition). 
    • Launch an Article 90.2 (complaint)* against a possible rejection of the appeal of point b (deadline 3 months after a possible appeal rejection). 
    • Bring the case to the European Court of Justice. 

2. Organise a strike
The most drastic option on the menu.  

3. Send a note to the Commissioner Hahn / DG Ingestad
Generation 2004 already sent a note to DG Ingestad and a note to Commissioner Hahn on 26 November 2021, to which we are still waiting for a reply.  

4. Launch a petition to the European Parliament
We are preparing a petition to the European Parliament that will address this specific problem and if accepted, will try to impose a solution. Nevertheless, we need to act together and need your support to sign it. More details will follow soon.  

We have already filed two petitions in the past. One to the benefit of CAs and another more recently on AST-SCs (not yet formally accepted). 

5. Lobby Members of the European Parliament 
We will ask Members of the European Parliament to address oral / written questions to the European Commission. We will also explain the limitation in the career of certain staff categories and the precarious situation of staff hired on temporary basis. 

6. Discussion in the Central Staff Committee
At the same time, a discussion on this matter will take place in the Central Staff Committee and hopefully together with other trade unions the social dialogue (negotiations with DG HR) will be initiated.

Generation 2004 is of the opinion that the most effective path would be to pursue legal action, which has the potential to bring tangible result in the longer term. 

We call on all interested and concerned colleagues to mobilise and join this group in Teams created for the purpose of creating a discussion space on these matters and an information point. 

We commit to fight for the best solution and provide you all necessary support. 

Here is the video and presentation from the meeting last week. 

For any further questions please contact us! 

* Generation 2004 will provide templates for the two Article 90.2 (Complaints). 

[1] See our FAQs: question 1: Where can I find which tasks belong to which function groups?

[2] These can be used for many purposes: here’s one we’ve got ongoing.




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