JUNIOR PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMME IS (REALLY?!) HERE TO STAY
5 years have elapsed since the very first version of this parallel recruitment programme was first submitted to the staff representatives of the European Commission.
Initially conceived to allow just a few blue book trainees to be first recruited as temporary agents and then participate in a targeted internal competition, this program has undergone a certain number of changes over the years, but has yet to attain conditions of transparency and fair selection guarantees equivalent to those that that are mandatory in this institution’s normal recruitment procedures.
Given that the average age of its staff is around 50, with new recruits joining at an average age of 35, this institution clearly needs to attract more young people. At the same time, there is no doubt that efforts must be made to try to attain a better geographical balance among all Member States. The question is simple: is this programme the only/the best/the fairest manner to reach those goals?
The draft decision that has been recently presented to us and to the other trade unions is aimed at making this programme permanent, raises the number of yearly recruits from 50 to 70, keeps the maximum number of years of previous work experience at just three, envisages up to three years of a temporary agent contract instead of the current two… and ultimately aims to offer them an internal competition to become officials after that.
In our opinion, this recruitment mechanism has several shortcomings, the greatest of which are:
it is biased in favour of blue book trainees (3/4 of the total 201 laureates so far), as not many other staff members have less than the maximum three years working experience that is requested. This means that many contract agents and junior officials still at the beginning of their career are systematically excluded. We are not against offering a professional chance to brilliant youngsters, but we call for the scheme to be extended to existing staff
unlike all the selection procedures to recruit temporary agents or run by EPSO, where the staff representation is entitled to appoint one full member of the board, here it is not the case. The administration wants to relegate staff representatives to a marginal role of mere ‘observers’, obviously diminishing their monitoring role.
There are other shortcomings of this mechanism as it currently stands. For instance, it does not include a test on EU institutions knowledge, which is contrary to the guidelines provided by the new HR Strategy or EPSO and It establishes the eligibility of trainees without their even needing to finish the stage (three months are deemed sufficient), yet it asks them to prove a good knowledge of the functioning of the institution, which appears paradoxical.) However, our administration needs to address the two fundamental aspects highlighted above.
A recruitment programme drawn up with reference to youth and talent must, in TAO’s view, be open to all those meeting those criteria to really select the best ones from all the suitable candidates on merit-based criteria.
In order to be fair and efficient in its purposes, it should in our view be founded on the basic principles of equality, merit and competence. The program as it now stands fails to meet two of these three basis parameters, namely equality and merit. Indeed, it has been able to attract a few competent people, but many of the competent junior people in-house have not been given a chance. We believe that it is a matter of political will that this program be improved along these common sense lines, and that doing so will be good for the Commission’s public image.