REPORT     
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3.2.2010
PE 430.827v02-00 A7-0012/2010

on implementation of Article 2 of the Staff Regulations of the European Communities: the recruitment policy of the Institutions and organs of the EU

(2009/2239(INI))

Committee on Legal Affairs

Rapporteur: Klaus-Heiner Lehne

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on implementation of Article 2 of the Staff Regulations of the European Communities: the recruitment policy of the Institutions and organs of the EU

(2009/2239(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Staff Regulations of the European Communities, in particular Articles 2, 27, 28(d) and 30 thereof and Annex III thereto,

–   having regard to Decision 2002/620/EC of the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Ombudsman of 25 July 2002 establishing a European Communities Personnel Selection Office(1),

–   having regard to Decision 2002/621/EC of the Secretaries-General of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the Registrar of the Court of Justice, the Secretaries-General of the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, and the Representative of the European Ombudsman of 25 July 2002 on the organisation and operation of the European Communities Personnel Selection Office(2),

–   having regard to the Agreement between the Secretaries-General of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the Registrar of the Court of Justice, the Secretaries-General of the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, together with the representative of the mediator setting out the common principles for a shared selection and recruitment policy and the principles for managing reserve lists (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Agreement’),

–   having regard to the Declaration by the Bureau of the European Parliament of 2002(3),

–   having regard to the ongoing implementation of the EPSO Development Programme ‘Roadmap for Implementation’ adopted by the Management Board of the European Personnel Selection Office on 11 September 2008 (‘the EDP’),

–   having regard to Special Report No 9/2009 of the European Court of Auditors entitled ‘The efficiency and effectiveness of the personnel selection activities carried out by the European Personnel Selection Office’ adopted on 11 June 2009,

–   having regard to the 2008 Annual Activity Report of the European Personnel Selection Office and the European Administrative School of 31 March 2009,

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7‑0012/2010),

A. whereas Article 2 of the Staff Regulations allows one or more institutions to entrust to any of them or to an interinstitutional body the exercise of some or all of the powers conferred on the appointing authority and was the basis for establishing the European Personnel Selection Office (‘EPSO’),

B.  whereas according to Article 27 of the Staff Regulations recruitment has to be directed to securing for the institutions the services of officials of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, recruited on the broadest possible geographical basis from among nationals of Member States of the Communities,

C. whereas according to Article 28(d) of the Staff Regulations, as a principle, an official may be appointed only on condition that he or she has passed a competition based on either qualifications or tests, or both qualifications and tests, as provided for in Annex III to the Staff Regulations,

D. whereas pursuant to Article 30 of the Staff Regulations for each competition a selection board has to be appointed by the appointing authority with responsibility for drawing up a list of suitable candidates,

E.  whereas Annex III to the Staff Regulations sets out detailed requirements and conditions for the conduct of competitions, including the notice of competitions, the application requirements, the composition of the selection board, the drawing-up of a list of candidates and the tasks of EPSO,

F.  whereas the duties of EPSO are defined in Decisions 2002/620/EC and 2002/621/EC,

G. whereas the modalities for the preparation of competitions, the selection policy and procedures, the principles governing the use of the reserve lists and the harmonisation of classification criteria are set out in the Agreement,

H. whereas Decision 2002/621/EC and the Agreement were to be subject to review after a period of three years following the establishment of EPSO; whereas, however, such revision has yet to take place; whereas the options for further development set out in the EDP also necessitate such revision,

I.   whereas the Declaration of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 2002 clearly confirmed the commitment to a multilingual and multicultural administration which is balanced both linguistically and geographically, and put EPSO on notice that its ability to provide reserve lists such as to allow a recruitment policy ensuring such balance was one of the principal yardsticks by which its performance would be judged; whereas that declaration remains fully valid,

J.   whereas point 6 of the Declaration of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 2002 sets out its intentions in the event that EPSO does not satisfy Parliament’s recruitment needs; whereas, however, there has been no change in the commitment to having a common service for the organisation of open competitions for the selection of officials and there is no need at this stage to have recourse to point 6 of that declaration; whereas it is time nevertheless to re-launch the interinstitutional dialogue and review EPSO’s functioning in a spirit of good cooperation in order to build together the best possible selection system and to address any difficulties faced by that interinstitutional body so that it could become a model organisation; whereas this should be a common effort on the part of all the institutions involved,

K. whereas in its report the Court of Auditors identified a number of deficiencies in the functioning of EPSO; whereas EPSO responded to that report by pointing out the solutions which it has already adopted to address some of the shortcomings;

L.  whereas it appears that only the draft Agreement but not the Agreement itself has been published in the Official Journal, which calls into question the transparency of the selection and recruitment procedures,

1.  Congratulates EPSO on its continuing efforts to modernise the selection procedures and in this respect welcomes the comprehensive internal action plan designed to improve existing procedures within EPSO; at the same time points out that on the external, i.e. interinstitutional, level EPSO has to comply with all the conditions and requirements imposed by the Staff Regulations on the institutions as appointing authorities and, at the same time, with the implementing acts concerning EPSO;

2.  Notes that Decision 2002/621/EC and the Agreement should have been reviewed three years after the creation of EPSO;

3.  Notes that in certain respects the EDP is not in conformity with the common principles for a shared selection and recruitment policy and the principles for managing reserve lists set out in the Agreement, in particular with respect to selection boards, the content of competitions and the use of reserve lists;

4.  Recalls that those common principles are the basis on which the Management Board, in collaboration with the Director of EPSO, has to set up and develop a shared selection system;

5.  Calls on its Secretary-General and the other institutions which founded EPSO to initiate an urgent and constructive review of Decision 2002/621/EC and the Agreement pursuant to the relevant provisions of those acts; considers that this review should focus on interinstitutional aspects of EPSO and selection policy and procedures and take the EDP into account;

6.  Considers that first and foremost EPSO must respect the legal requirements imposed by the Staff Regulations and the relevant implementing acts with respect to the organisation and conduct of competitions and ensuring that the reserve lists produced enable the institutions to recruit in compliance with Article 27 of the Staff Regulations;

7.  Notes that the recruitment needs of individual institutions and the profiles of candidates sought vary;

8.  Stresses that it is essential to ensure multilingualism and compliance with the legal principle of recruitment on the broadest possible geographical basis, and that the EDP must better address the issue of linguistic and geographical balance in the selection process so as to allow the institutions to ensure that the administration is both multilingual and multicultural;

9.  Points out that its commitment to common selection procedures conducted by EPSO is dependent on fulfilment of Parliament’s specific needs as a fully multilingual institution;

10. Stresses that Parliament is a multilingual institution and that securing the highest number of candidates with a multilingual profile is therefore a key requirement of recruitment policy; observes that the obligation to recruit on the broadest possible geographical basis is a corollary of this requirement;

11. Calls on EPSO to carry out an urgent in-depth appraisal so as to identify the reasons for the geographical and linguistic imbalances observed and possible remedies, and to communicate its findings to the institutions;

12. Considers that one of the essential elements of the job description of EU staff should be to contribute positively to the European project; considers also that the efficiency of the institutions lies in the quality of its staff and that, in this context, knowledge remains one of the most fundamental assets of EU officials;

13. Regrets that the EDP does not dwell on the issues of transparency and equality of candidates that have been addressed on a number of occasions by the Ombudsman and are subject to pending judicial review;

14. Objects to the professionalisation of selection boards through the secondment of officials on a full-time basis to EPSO, on the grounds that it is contrary to the Staff Regulations and therefore illegal, affords no guarantees of independence and objectivity and is neither an effective nor an efficient option;

15. Considers instead that it is vital to maintain the input to the selection process of selection boards composed of officials in active service who are sensitive to and keenly aware of the actual needs of their institutions and that this is the best way of guaranteeing the independence, impartiality and integrity of recruitment;

16. Undertakes to identify and introduce as a matter of urgency solutions which will make for better availability of members of selection boards and enable them to perform their duties as members of those boards in an effective and efficient way, and requests the other institutions to join it in this endeavour;

17. Calls on EPSO to present alternative options for optimising the selection board aspect of the selection procedure and to assess their impact in line with possible guidelines to be contained in the reviewed Agreement; considers that it is the role of EPSO to provide appropriate high-quality professional assistance and advice to selection boards so as to ensure the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of their work;

18. Considers that EPSO and the institutions should reflect on alternative ways of strengthening selection boards’ ability successfully to perform their tasks, such as permanent assistance by professional assessors, assessment centres, the creation of a database of selection board members with the experience and willingness to perform this task, and continuous training;

19. Deplores the lack of a permanent presence within EPSO structures, in particular the hierarchy, of staff from Parliament: such a presence would provide EPSO with the necessary understanding, awareness and expertise about the specificities of Parliament as an institution, give it the necessary sensitivity to Parliament’s particular needs and ensure proper balance in all the steps of planning and implementation of the selection procedures; recalls in this context Article 7(4) of Decision 2002/621/EC, which requires that officials of all Community institutions be informed of posts vacant within EPSO as soon as the appointing authority decides to fill them;

20. Is concerned by the Court of Auditors’ findings about the determination of costs of competitions and urges EPSO to implement the Court’s recommendations in this respect;

21. Observes in general that there is a need to enhance interinstitutional cooperation, coordination and dialogue concerning staff matters, in particular with respect to implementation of the Staff Regulations in each of the institutions;

22. Requests publication of the Agreement in the Official Journal;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Ombudsman and the European Personnel Selection Office.

(1)

OJ L 197, 26.7.2002, p. 53.

(2)

OJ L 197, 26.7.2002, p. 56.

(3)

OJ L 197, 26.7.2002, p. 55.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

I.         BACKGROUND

The principal objective of the report is to look at the implementation of Article 2 of the Staff Regulations in the context of the recruitment of officials and other servants of the EU institutions and organs. That Article provides in particular that "one or more institutions may entrust to any one of them or to an inter-institutional body the exercise of some or all of the powers conferred on the Appointing Authority, other than decisions relating to appointments, promotions or transfers of officials". By Decision 2002/620/EC, the selection of officials and other servants was entrusted to European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) pursuant to Article 2 of the Staff Regulation(1). It is therefore that aspect of recruitment policy, which is managed by EPSO as a competence delegated to it by the institutions in implementing the Staff Regulations, which is at the heart of the report.

EPSO was established in 2002 and became operational in 2003. It was considered that there is a need for a professional and rational selection procedure that was felt to be inefficient, ineffective and at times even unfair. The legislative grounds of the selection process are contained in the Staff Regulation and can only be modified in that context.

It is also understood that, as from 2003, EPSO is a structurally autonomous body, having its own budget, establishment plan, appointing authority and premises. It is attached to the Commission for logistical purposes only, but does not thereby fall under its administrative authority. EPSO is a pooling of an administrative function and in this sense can most accurately be described as a “common service” for all the institutions involved.

The successful operation of EPSO is at the heart of recruitment of officials and other servants by all institutions which have transferred to EPSO their powers to run the selection of candidates and can now organise their own competitions on exceptional basis only. EPSO has recently presented the EPSO Development Plan (EDP) that puts forward a number of changes in the selection process designed to improve the current procedures. In addition, the Court of Auditors produced its Special Report 9/2009 of 10 June 2009 where it addresses a number of shortcomings in the functioning of EPSO. This has prompted the current initiative report which looks primarily at how the Staff Regulations are implemented when it comes to the recruitment of officials and other servants, of which the selection procedure is the core element.

II.        IMPLEMENTING ACTS

Modalities of EPSO's functioning and the guidance on the selection and recruitment policy in the form of common principles were agreed and decided in implementing acts by Secretaries General of the institutions that founded EPSO, including the Registrar of the Court of Justice and the representative of the Ombudsman. Those acts provided for a review after three years after the establishment of EPSO, however such review has not taken place. That being despite seven years of EPSO operations and the already ongoing implementation of important review of EPSO’s procedures contained in the EDP, which bears directly on the selection and recruitment policies. Urgent review imposes itself.

III.      PARTICULAR OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE EDP

1.        Interinstitutional body

EPSO was established as an interinstitutional body. Interinstitutionalism is therefore a constitutive element of EPSO and should guarantee the appropriate representation of institutions in its internal structures and decision making. To this end Article 7(4) of Decision 2002/621/EC requires that the officials of all Community institutions are to be informed of posts vacant within EPSO as soon as the appointing authority decides to fill those posts. Interinstitutionalisation means also that it is not only the needs of institutions taken together that should be respected but also that due account has to be taken of particular needs of individual institutions so that they can recruit candidates that are suitable for them. This is closely related to the respect of multilingualism and geographical balance. Finally, interinstitutionalisation entails equal representation of institutions in the Selection Boards of competitions organised by EPSO.

2.        Selection Boards

EPSO develops a plan to professionalise Selection Boards proposing as one of its elements that 27 officials are seconded to EPSO on a full time basis for at least two and maximum four years in accordance with the conditions and procedures to be set out in conjunction with the institutions and the Staff Committees. Those permanent members would work together with non-permanent members of Selection Boards but would receive a different training and have different tasks. EPSO seems to have left the institutions the choice to take part in the system. In view of launching the first annual cycle of open competitions (2010-2011) announced in the EDP, it published the call for expression of interest by the candidates for permanent Selection Board members with deadline for applications set on 15 September 2009. At least one institution (Parliament) has opted-out. The proposal was also felt unsatisfactory to the Staff Committees.

The concept proposed by EPSO raises first of all the question of compliance with Staff Regulations, in particular Article 3(3) of Annex III, which states that: "For open competitions common to two or more institutions, the Selection Board shall consist of a chairman appointed by the appointing authority referred to in Article 2(2) of the Staff Regulations and of a member appointed by the appointing authority referred to in Article 2(2) of the Staff Regulations on a proposal from the institutions, as well as of members appointed by agreement between the Staff Committees of the institutions, in such a way as to ensure equal representation". That means that in case of competitions organised by EPSO Selection Board members are appointed by EPSO or by Staff Committees. EPSO appoints members on a proposal from the institutions. This should be understood that for each Selection Board of each open competition organised by EPSO the institutions have to propose the members to be appointed. This proposal is not a general one, but is made on a case-by-case basis. This is so designed to ensure that members of the Selection Board have a full and up-to-date grasp on institutions' work and life and the necessary sensitivity to needs of each and all institutions. Thus, it is doubtful that permanent members of the Selection Board can be appointed by EPSO on the basis of a pool of members proposed by the institutions to exercise the function of permanent members of the Selection Boards. Each institution would still be required to propose its member. It is also doubtful how permanent members of Selection Boards would keep their daily insight knowledge of institutions. This aspects are not developed in the EDP in detail.

EPSO does not consider the non participation by one of the institutions in the pool of permanent Selection Board members to be an obstacle to the introduction of the system, noting that institutions which did not wish/have the capacity to appoint permanent members will have to provide a higher number of non-permanent members. That solution seems to have some shortcomings given the proposed distribution of the number of permanent members per institution, different tasks of a permanent and non-permanent member of the Selection Board, the fact that the rotating chair and vice-chair of the Selection Board is reserved for permanent members and thus there is no possibility of equal representation and weighing between the institutions. It also seems that it might not be an easy task for Staff Committees to propose permanent members for secondment to EPSO.

In terms of time savings and working methods it is also doubtful how EPSO would ensure that the unavailability of non-permanent member would not continue to hamper the works of the Selection Board and how to ensure that both type of members will have the same powers and responsibilities in Selection Boards, while apparently having different tasks and receiving different training. It also leaves opened questions on the independence of members of Selection Boards and on the independence of institutions in proposing candidates for appointment to a particular Board.

In this context it should also be recalled that the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market in May 2002 stressed with respect to the members of the Selection Board the need to avoid creating a "caste" of professional selectors who could loose the feel of the institutions and the way in which they actually function and, as a result, not have the requisite professional approach as regards skills required to occupy the post of an official.

Finally it should be observed that such professionalized Selection Board would still require recourse to assessors, external contractors and other experts. For those reasons it would seem more appropriate for EPSO and the institutions to give more profound reflection on the issue of professionalization of Selection Boards, and explore alternative ways of strengthening their ability to successfully perform their tasks, such as permanent assistance by professional assessors, assessment centres, creation of a database of Selection Boards members with experience and willingness to perform this task, continuous training, The institutions should explore ways in which to enable members of the Selection Boards to combine their duties at “home” institutions and at EPSO.

3.        Multilingualism

It is one of the important aspects of recruitment for a multilingual institution, such as the Parliament, to ensure the best possible number of candidates with multilingual profile. While the ability to work in the three working languages is important, it has to be made sure that candidates who can present a wider knowledge of languages are not lost. This is closely related with the obligation to recruit on the broadest possible geographical basis. Urgent analysis of the ways to improve geographical balance is necessary.

4.        Planning by the institutions

The institutions must continue to be responsible for assessing their needs in terms of recruitment and determining the best ways of meeting them. The possibility for the institutions to hold their own open competitions to meet specific needs for highly specialised staff are now limited to exceptional cases only and subject to the agreement of EPSO. At the same time EPSO can only provide its service when it knows the recruitment needs of the institutions, which should be responsible for their identification and notification to EPSO. To this end the actions proposed in the EDP are welcomed.

At the same time the drawing up and use of reserve lists should be analysed with a view to a possible review. For instance, the current Agreement signed by the Secretaries-General of the institutions, including the Registrar of the Court of Justice and the representative of the Ombudsman, requires that reserve lists remain valid for two years while the Staff Regulations provides in addition that lists contain, wherever possible, at least twice as many names as the number of posts to be filled.

As the institutions retain full control over the individuals’ recruitment from the reserve lists in accordance with their needs, it is important that competitions produce and reserve lists supply a sufficient choice of candidates for all institutions having often different culture and needs. The flagging system should ensure that institutions do not compete for candidates on the "first comes first served" basis and that they have possibility to flag successful candidates having a profile that they asked for when requesting to launch the competition. This should be balanced against possibility for the candidates to freely express their preference and actively seek employment with institutions of their choice within the limits of the reserve list. This could help improving the image of institutions as employers.

Finally, EPSO should be proactive in managing and monitoring the use of reserve lists so as to help the institutions to confront their planning with the actual use of the lists, making it a tool for more optimal identification of the recruitment needs and for further improvement of selection criteria.

(1)

Article 2(3) of the Staff Regulation in its version applicable before 1 May 2004, which was the legal basis of Decision 2002/620/EC, provided: "However, two or more institutions may entrust to one of them or to an interinstitutional body the exercise of the powers conferred on the appointing authority in respect of recruitment and of the social security and pension schemes".


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.1.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Raffaele Baldassarre, Sebastian Valentin Bodu, Christian Engström, Marielle Gallo, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Antonio Masip Hidalgo, Jiří Maštálka, Alajos Mészáros, Bernhard Rapkay, Evelyn Regner, Francesco Enrico Speroni, Alexandra Thein, Cecilia Wikström

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Piotr Borys, Sajjad Karim, Vytautas Landsbergis, Kurt Lechner, Eva Lichtenberger, Toine Manders, Arlene McCarthy, Angelika Niebler

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