The “Near you”
by R&D, Conf-SFE, U4U, USHU
Edito : Debating the issue together !
As we wrote in the last edition, the creation of the EEAS has been beset with difficulties for both management and trade unions. We must now calmly focus on moving forward after the next elections.
That is why the Near You trade union group has suggested a round table to the other EEAS unions so that we can act together in the best interests of the staff. We need to put an end to the division, the pointless arguments, the petty political manoeuvring. The interests of the staff, the institution and the European framework must be our priority.
The same proposal has been put to the Administration,
since no one wants to see a deterioration of the social climate or a decline in
We first need to see a reduction in the insecurity, inequalities and disparities experienced by staff. This is possible – we have the ideas and the means to do so!
We also need to ensure that career prospects are preserved, not only for the "happy few", but for the entire workforce, across all categories. To this end, there must be clearly defined career paths, a system for monitoring careers, transparent and legitimate means of access to end-of-service arrangements for AST, AD and CA grades. This is urgent after the 2013 reform of the Staff Regulations.
The development of a spirit of European public service within the External Service, the promotion of participatory management methods for staff and the improvement of internal communications seem to us to constitute the proposals for change expected by staff, who do not deserve the situation in which they currently find themselves.
Internal competitions: why, who and how?
The new Regulations allow for several types of competition. Initially, but not exclusively, for the CA grade. An internal reclassification competition was also held at the Commission for post-2004 colleagues.
Indeed, although many CAs have permanent contracts and have been working for the Institutions for many years, there is growing pressure to organise appointment and reclassification competitions (see below).
The rallying of the CAs and the petition signed by more than 4,000 employees has raised hopes within the Commission. However, there is a belief in the EEAS that quite a few of our CAs are interested in such competitions.
The EEAS Administration also points out the need to consider the Temporary Agents coming from other Member States, although many of them come in order to have their contracts extended for a further 4 years.
We really need to identify the problems and, in particular, assess the consequences for HR management.
The Contract Agents are the result of a selection system, and many of them have had to prove themselves in order to obtain their permanent contracts. They have been trained and have acquired considerable experience.
They need prospects with the institutions, to be able to progress and have their merits recognised.
There is no risk for the Institution with regard to the choice of person, no investment in training, but there is the assurance of loyalty by providing the opportunity for appointment or reclassification. To put it more cynically, CAs appointed in this way will experience delayed promotion compared to those recruited earlier… so it’s a win-win situation!
See also the results of the January 2014 GM of the Contract Agents’ Action Group for more information about our demands.
As for the TAs, we can only regret that, once again, the Institutions, encouraged by the Member States, continue to be embroiled in a diabolical spiral by unnecessarily creating a new category of employee. The original idea was that diplomats should spend 4 years at the EEAS before returning to a career in their country of origin, benefiting from a European experience (cross-fertilisation).
However, after 8 years at the EEAS? The question of their appointment, however few of them there are, will be raised in similar terms to those of the CAs. What is more, the Administration has already linked the two issues.
Careful attention needs to be paid to the consequences. The careers of the permanent officials are harmed by the disproportionate occupation of senior management positions by national diplomats (particularly in Delegations: 44% of fixed-term contracts…). While their appointment, even on a limited basis, means the recalculation of quotas and therefore the recruitment of additional diplomats, we will find ourselves in an unacceptable situation, as the permanent officials already in place and those newly appointed would be faced with new obstacles to their careers!
Internal reclassification competitions are necessary in order to reclassify AST and ASD post-2004 employees. Allowing ATs access to these competitions must be accompanied by measures avoiding the need to recruit additional national diplomats by adjusting the quotas.
We therefore need a debate on the appointment competitions in order to distinguish between the two categories (CA and TA) and the various internal competitions (for the CAs, to reclassify the post-2004s, for the TAs). NEAR YOU suggests reconsidering the scope of these competitions, which should enable various strategies to be implemented. The purpose of these internal competitions is to remedy those situations that need to be corrected, but main entry to the European Civil Service must still be via external competitions.
We will revisit these matters in more detail, vital as they are for the future of our Institution. We invite Colleagues to share their thoughts on this subject with us.
CAs : draft guidelines on mobility for CAs in DEL under scrutiny!
On the eve of Christmas holidays, 16/12/2013, Staff Representatives & Trade Unions received the draft guidelines for comments in relation to the proposed EEAS scheme for Contract Agent mobility.
Near You mobilized itself quickly in order to thoroughly study the EEAS proposal and to compare it with what the Commission has in the pipeline: NEAR YOU advocates for a harmonized approach where possible to the same staff category in both institutions and therefore strongly encourages the EEAS and COMM to aim for a scheme whose fundamental principles are common even if implementing provisions may need to differ slightly according the needs of each service.
On 21/01/2014 and at our request, NEAR YOU held a one hour meeting with EEAS management in order to convey specific comments on the proposed text among which the following points were considered a priority:
• NEAR YOU supports the proposed pilot exercise however it would be important to specify which period is covered and to aim for a fully-fledged mobility as soon as possible.
• NEAR YOU questions the fundamentally different approach whereby the EEAS confirms the scheme will be "voluntary" whereas to date COMM indicates it will be "compulsory".
• NEAR YOU welcomes the fact that the EEAS advocates an open, transparent process with the publication of posts and subsequent selection procedure – we believe there is a role at HQ to ensure a strict monitoring of the process and to avoid any conflicts of interest.
• The proposed duration of 5 years is different to that of officials which is normally 4- NEAR YOU underlined the fact that this could cause problems for couples/families composed of Officials and CAs and that a flexible approach should be adopted to promote family reconciliation as needed.
• Whilst there may be advantages to opening vacancies to CAs at HQ, it must be clear that the target of this mobility scheme is CAs currently in Delegations who under Annex X of the Staff Regulations, are subject to institutional mobility which includes a temporary period at HQ – this is clearly not the case for CA3b in EU institutions.
• NEAR YOU expressed strong concern over the conditions under which CAs in DEL would be expected to work at HQ. They would no longer be covered by Annex X provisions such as reimbursement of accommodation/living conditions allowance etc and would remain on CA3a salaries which are considerably lower than those of CA3b counterparts working at HQ – the EEAS is a aware of these difficulties but has no solution to date.
NEAR YOU congratulates the EEAS on having finally produced this proposal never-the-less it is imperative that this scheme be implemented in the best possible manner and be responsive to the needs of Contract Agents in Delegation who have been waiting for an institution mobility since 2005, when the first CAs were recruited in Delegations.
It is clear that with the changes to the Staff Regulations and the continued discontent of Contract Agents in Delegations, there is a certain political and legal expediency to introduce this scheme.
Contract Agents must be confident that any mobility will truly form part of a career development path and not simply be another isolated block in already highly fragmented Human Resources policy for Contract Agents!
The internal mobility exercise
The mobility exercise at headquarters, organised for the first time in 2013, is about to be recommenced by the Administration.
However, the staff are entitled to demand a proper assessment before it is launched. Although the “chambre d'écoute” (listening room) set up at the request of staff has not had any disputed cases to deal with, the system remains problematic in substance, if not in form.
Support measures have not been introduced with regard to career planning and development (areas of work, planned alternating appointments between headquarters and delegations, etc.).
In its current form, the mobility within EEAS focuses on advertising vacant posts and compartmentalises careers. Those who want (or need) to make a change outside of this process cannot do so. On the other hand, those who are quite happy where they are find themselves obliged to move, without any logical relevance to their careers. There has been no overall policy or visibility for a number of years now.
Your views on this issue are welcomed as a contribution to the discussion.
Sickness Insurance Scheme for Local Agents: Far from Reality
No Complaints regarding the medical reimbursement have been introduced by the staff since Feb 2013. We are not sure if it's Good or Bad. CSISLA rules are so strict that the local agents no longer submit their complaints or even their reimbursement requests.
We invite all colleagues to fill up the attached form and submit it to the administration in case they are not satisfied with your medical reimbursements. This will enable us to formally discuss your case during the CSISLA joint committee meetings.
Still no decision has been taken regarding the Affiliation of Working Spouses to the CSISLA. We proposed to administration to accept the coverage for a working spouse based on the salary of a local agent of Group IV – Step 1.
Reference hospitals are not chosen in a transparent manner. Some delegations have even been forbidden to use hospitals used by expats as reference hospitals.
The list of tests in the Annual Medical Tests has been drastically reduced important checks such as cervical, breast and prostate cancer screening are not included in the annual medical check-up list.
We urge the administration to think beyond the budget lines. The preventive health check-ups are not only in the interest of an individual but also in the interest of the service. The research is showing that it’s more cost-effective to invest in preventive health practices.
Cash Reserves in the CSISLA fund have been growing steadily. In 2012, the fund topped 16 million Euros. It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand why administration is just interested in piling the cash reserves and doesn't want to improve upon the scheme. This fund has been built by contributions of our colleagues across the world and must be used for their welfare. In majority of the third-world countries, no social security is provided by the state and the local agents retire without a Post-Retirement Medical Coverage.
It's time the administration wakes up and starts thinking about the welfare of the staff who have sincerely worked for them for so many years.
Editeur : G. Vlandas - Rédacteur en chef : B. Soret
Equipe de rédaction : H. Conefrey, V. Davydova, M. Kaminska, F. Kopp, M. Manon, M.-A. Maurer, J.-P. Soyer, S. Thakkar