PositionBrief Article

A thumping majority of the delegations are keen on the changes made to the career structure. This involves introducing two categories to replace the current quartet of grades. Another popular item is merit-based promotions being the rule within each category and from one category to another. Under this heading, France, Spain, Luxembourg and Greece are nonetheless striving to uphold the principle of a career civil service. This would mean retaining the seniority requirement rather than an employment-based civil service, favouring departmental needs and specific areas of expertise. The French delegation will have no truck with the idea that two young civil servants, who have just successfully passed the same competition, may each start at a grade that varies according to their recruitment category. The French insist that they should both be posted to the basic grade, with an eye to career management.

France is just as hostile to the new system for other employees (auxiliary, contractual and temporary employees). As temporary employees are recruited without having to undergo a competition and on the basis of an open-ended contract they enjoy a career structure similar to that of statutory civil servants but with a more flexible system of management so they may be appointed to a higher grade at the outset. Countries with an employment-based civil service, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, support all the Commission proposals. They often enjoy the backing of countries with a career-based civil service, such as Germany and Austria. All delegations are asking for some light to be thrown on the rating system that will be used for promotion according to merit.

The various statutory measures linked to professional entitlements and obligations also meet with the delegations' approval. This includes the new provision for professional incompetence. However, the delegations still want one or two points cleared up. Penalties and disciplinary procedures are two such matters. The Commission has announced the appearance soon of a discussion paper on whistleblowing in connection with impaired functions or other actions or situations regarded as fraudulent or ethically dubious. The paper is expected to be heavily influenced by developments in the case of the Commission's former accountant. The behaviour in this case speaks volumes about the inherent risks of whistleblowing and the management it requires in practice (see...

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