On brutality

Open letter to Mr M. Selmayr, Secretary-General of the European Commission

Dear Mr Selmayr,

Some two weeks ago, the fate of a colleague who recently passed away unfortunately landed in the press, casting a scary shadow on the European Commission as a working place.

We take the opportunity of this message to first publicly express our sympathy to our deceased colleague’s closest colleagues, friends and family, and our deep regret that the worrisome elements that have been reported may have happened.

We do not have any means to judge on the authenticity of the reported events, their reasons behind, nor on the replies given by the Commission, and therefore refrain from commenting on matters fully outside our remit.

However, there is one statement of yours quoted in the article, which is very much of our concern: “…brutality is an integral part of this house” (originally quoted here). Since the quote has not been refuted by you, we must sadly assume it corresponds to your opinion on the Commission as a workplace.

Even if you do not seem to be alone in sharing this opinion (according to the same article, another senior manager of the Institution – a Director no less – would have stated the Commission to be “one of the worst employers around – humanly, a horrible place”), we would first note that for less than what you have stated some colleagues have faced disciplinary procedures by means of application of art. 12 of the staff regulations (“An official shall abstain from any action and, in particular, any public expression of opinion which may reflect on his position”).

The statement above may well express your point of view on the state of affairs at the Commission, but we also dare hoping that at least it does not correspond to the way in your opinion it should be. In other words, we hope you don’t consider it as an ineluctable condition not to be reversed. If this was the case, it would be a hard blow for the many of us still believing in competence, loyalty and hard work for the European citizens.

Therefore, with this open letter we ask you, as the Secretary-General of the European Commission, WHAT, in your pivotal position within the Institution, YOU INTEND TO DO IN ORDER TO REMOVE “BRUTALITY” from our daily way of working together. Failing to do so would show that this house has neither the cure, nor the intention to cure an underlying violent work environment.

Generation 2004 is keen to open a positive discussion with you in order to identify the elements that make this house a working environment prone to brutality and violence. Having taken stock of enough examples that illustrate such situations, we believe we are well placed to engage in this dialogue.

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