OPEN LETTER TO Mr. Verhofstadt,

Leader of ALDE (Association of Liberals and Democrats in Europe)


SubjectThe Commission's proposal to amend the Staff Regulations for EU officials includes a                            new AST/SC function group.


Dear Sir,


In remarks on how to set up this new so-called "SC" staff grade for secretaries, German liberal Alexandra Thein is quoted as remarking that rules on language skills should be relaxed because it is not necessary to speak several languages to make photocopies. She noted that mostly Belgians should be hired for the relatively low-paid work, adding that if this means mainly women with few qualifications, it is not so important because most of them will have husbands who bring in a second wage.


Reading the above quote one would not think it is an opinion of a female MEP in the 21st century. Neither does one normally associate such views with liberals and democrats. But according to the EUObserver that is the opinion of Alexandra Thein, member of ALDE (Association of Liberals and Democrats in Europe), of which you are the leader.


Many EU officials find such remarks offensive. In a nutshell the MEP manages to express quite a lot of points, but maybe the most important is the attitude towards women and work. The proposed wages for the proposed entry grade in the AST/SC category are very low indeed. However, this should not be a problem according to this MEP as people have spouses who bring in a second salary. So much for independence! And what if they don't? Is the official expected to take a second job? That the MEP expects the lower salary to be that of a woman automatically, says something about how far we have come in gender equality.


As for languages, the MEP seems to suggest one language would be sufficient for this group. The exact duties for the new AST/SC grades remain to be made clear, but will probably involve more than just taking photocopies. Even if those recruited were from Belgium only, which has three official national languages, would it not be difficult to limit the language choice? Hierarchical as the institutions are at the moment, the thought of limiting recruitment to one Member State at the lowest categories would surely be problematic. Indeed, this certainly would not "preserve a stable, comprehensive and well-balanced European civil service", which the Commission wrote when making its proposal. The suggestion would lead either to complete geographical imbalance, or outsourcing of the whole AST/SC category.


Yours   faithfully,

The Executive Committee,


M. Colling, D. Mormile, R. De Simone, Ch. Depienne, D. Karkalakis, , B. Robertson, M.A. Sansbury, A. Valastro