PositionStaff policy

The Council working group has prepared a midterm report for COREPER and the General Affairs Council. It is focused on proposals Neil Kinnock made last February about the new staff policy (see European Report 2572 and 2573, same Section). The group stresses the preliminary nature of its comments because most of the Commission plans have yet to give rise to formal regulatory proposals that have to be given qualified majority Council support under the Treaty's Article 283. At this juncture, caution seems to be the watchword, with the Staff Regulations group suggesting that whilst the Commission's approach is heading broadly in the right direction, Mr Kinnock needs to "state clearly what the full budgetary implications of his programme will be. These implications must remain strictly within the limits of Category 5 of the EU Budget's medium-term financial perspective. Thus, the Commission's proposals may be given a detailed examination only when full financial information is available about the costs and savings involved in the reform", according to the COREPER report.Career structure.It comes as no surprise that the Staff Regulations group should be waiting with "interest to take a detailed look at the proposals on the future career structure", which is by far the most controversial one as it ushers in the concept of "promotion based on merit", which is given broad support. Broad support is also reflected in COREPER's assessment of the two options - replacing the seniority criteria for rising through the ranks by a performance-based one or recasting the career structure on the basis of a linear one discounting categories - both of them based on the principle of a career-driven civil service. Some delegations, such as the Dutch one, speak in favour of a more radical reform based on an employment-driven civil service."However, a new system cannot be allowed to increase total spending on wages", the report by the Council experts says. It adds that: "the Commission proposal of 1 to 2% of the total wage and salary bill as an additional remuneration for civil servants holding key posts has to be regarded as an item for upgrading the entire remuneration system and should therefore be paid for within the existing wage budget". From this point of view, the expert group believes that as they stand the two options would create extra costs after 2004, "and this would be unacceptable". As a linear career structure would enable a greater number of officials to reach the following category, it might have a detrimental effect on the geographical balance. Geographical...

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