Externalisation to Executive Agencies

 

 

The meeting between DG HR and the staff representatives took place yesterday 14 March in the afternoon. Thanks to all of the comments and questions you sent us, we were able to make some useful proposals.

 

The meeting began with DG HR making a slide presentation followed by a question and answer session. This helped to clarify a number of points (see below)

 

 

General remarks

 

  • The externalisation concerns all 6 current Executive Agencies, not just Research. It will be phased in over the 7-year MFF period 2014-2020. It is not yet clear whether the staff transfers will be front-loaded to be more numerous in the initial years.
  • The DG HR document includes a number of declarations of generic intentions (to put into value an experience at the EA, to promote a change to the current "culture", to promote intra-agencies mobility, or that the EA are "perceived" as "an extension" of the Commission) that could be of interest if carried out adequately, but this remains to be seen. In contrast, we cannot but reject DG HR's proposal that Commission fonctionnaire staff should be treated like workers whose factory is closed in one town and they have to move to a new factory to keep their jobs. DG HR confirmed that it is out of question to put into risk the job of those whose tasks have been transferred to the agencies.
  • It is difficult to identify in these proposals substantive positive incentives for Commission fonctionnaires to agree to be externalized to an Agency. At best, the document claims that their status will be unchanged. However, in several respects, working conditions are worse in the Agencies, and the claims of improved careers and easier re-integration remain unconvincing.

 

 

Some figures

 

  • There are currently 1650 staff in the six agencies.
  • A further 1200 posts will be added over the period 2014-2020, so if the following figures are confirmed,  there will be no mass transfer of fonctionnaires or Contractual Agents currently in the Commission to the agencies. DG HR confirmed that the announced removal of the 33% limit on "secondments in the interest of the service" will be temporary as long as needed, and that in principle it is not foreseen to set up new Executive agencies.

The breakdown of categories is:

  • About 100 (8%) externalised Commission fonctionnaire staff who will become Temporary Agents in posts of responsibility (although responsible posts are re-defined as no longer only management posts, but can be normal AD and AST staff posts);
  • About 200 new Temporary Agent staff (these are not current Commission staff);
  • About 900 new Contractual Agents (it is not clear whether some of these could be Commission Contractual Agents, or what kind of contracts – 3a or 3b – they would have, though it seems likely that they would have the same contracts as current Agency CAs, meaning longer contracts, but at lower grades than in the Commission.)

 

 

"No push" approach


  • DG HR stated that there will be “NO PUSH” of Commission fonctionnaire staff into Temporary Agent posts in the Executive Agencies; any moves will be voluntary. You will be able to stay as a fonctionnaire within the Commission. DG HR confirmed that Mrs Catherine Day of the SEC GEN has made a personal written promise to this effect. However it is yet to be clarified how this promise will be fulfilled if your own post is externalised to an Agency.
  • Commission staff may even have to re-apply to a job vacancy notice for their own posts if their posts are to be externalized to an Agency. It is not clear whether other staff could also apply to be in competition with you for your own post.
  • Non-externalised Commission staff will remain in their current posts to complete the "legacy" work of programmes begun in the MFF 2007-2013. There will be no reductions of staff via Article 41, although posts will not be re-filled when staff leave through normal wastage (retirement, etc).
  • Because many Commission staff will remain in their posts, while new staff will be engaged to do equivalent work on the next MFF programmes, the total staff numbers will actually increase until wastage takes effect.

 

 

Return ticket

 

  • Return to a Commission post: Do not forget that this is a right pursuant to the Staff Regulations. According to DG HR, the purpose of this Document is to facilitate the return. At present colleagues working at the agencies encounter many problems to get back to the Commission. Harmonizing the working environment (using the same tools Sysper, access to OIB services etc) will be the first step to move in that direction. However, no guarantees are provided either at this stage.
  • Externalised staff will be paid from a separate budget. Their previous posts will be deleted from Heading 5 of the EU Budget, which will make it more difficult for them to return to Commission posts as there will be fewer available posts because of the 5% staff reduction.

 

 

Career


  • Externalisation is intended to be viewed positively for careers, but it is difficult to reconcile this with the aim to convert for instance DGs such as RTD or CNECT into policy, not implementation, DGs, since what is the value of spending years doing project implementation in an Agency if your home DG is no longer interested in implementation?
  • Existing Temporary Agents and Contract Agents at the Agencies should not be treated as second class personnel, and to put them at risk of being side-lined by incoming officials from the Commission who would be considered as first class.  Given that many of the existing TA's in the EA's have taken substantial responsibilities and worked very hard for years, with only limited career progression opportunities, the proposed position of DG HR is also disproportionate and penalizing for them.
  • 1200 is a sufficient number to justify an increase of responsibility posts to be filled in without affecting those who are already in place. Moreover, DG HR confirmed that the Heads of Units currently in place in the agencies will continue in such posts and could apply for a post of Head of unit at the Commission

 

A follow-up meeting will take place shortly – please continue to provide us with your comments.