Dear Colleagues,

The imperatives of solidarity and efficiency have never been as important as in this period of crisis which affects the community of 500 million Europeans of which we are part and which we serve.

It is in this context that important measures, with a far-reaching impact on our everyday lives, were taken very discreetly at the end of last year. These measures concern mainly the control of working time and professional incompetence.

They appear to reflect sound management principles but the Administration is preparing to implement them in an extreme way that could go beyond the College’s intentions.

All this is taking place in a negative context where (1) the Member States are gradually reducing the number of people working for the institutions and their rights and (2) the Administration is not involving its staff actively in change management.

In addition to the forced mobility introduced in 2004, there is a risk that this change in the organisational culture, working and control methods will eventually transform the Commission into merely an executive administration without policy-making capacity.

We must show that the majority of us are against this drift and propose more suitable ways of driving up efficiency.

If we disapprove of this drift, we must make our feelings known.
In a democratic system, the majority opinion cannot be disregarded.

If you share our opinion, please support this letter to the College and Presidents of the Institutions by clicking the “I AGREE” link below.





You will probably receive this message several times over the coming weeks. The aim of these reminders will be to obtain the support of the majority of staff. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and hope that the importance of the cause will make this slight email spam more acceptable. If possible, please actively encourage your colleagues and friends to sign this letter.

(1) Last year, thanks to a campaign spearheaded by EU STAFF FOR EUROPE (a grouping of colleagues convinced of the importance of the European project), more than 25,000 colleagues signed a letter to the College in connection with the reform of the Staff Regulations. This petition provided invaluable support for the staff representatives (and the Administration) when dealing with Member States that wanted far more radical measures.

Letter to the College and the Presidents of the European institutions

Inappropriate measures regarding working time and professional incompetence

In a period of crisis when cooperation at European level has never been as necessary in order to tackle common socio-economic challenges, the Member States are deviating from the community method. They are gradually reverting to intergovernmental agreements and have adopted a European Union budget which has shrunk in real terms. Rejecting the community approach is not only a question of shunning solidarity and collective efficiency; it is also a question of rejecting the democratic transparency to which all citizens are entitled.

At a time when it is essential to strengthen our ability to act together, the capacity for action of our institutions is being undermined. Since 2004, our institutional system has been progressively and discreetly weakened by measures affecting its internal organisation. These measures may seem unimportant and appear to be governed by principles of good management, but they have significant repercussions when taken together.

They are profoundly changing the way our institutions work. They are transforming the Commission into a bureaucratic body for European policies. Every day, the Commission loses more of its policy-making capacity which is so essential to the development of the European Union. Its image and reputation with citizens have been badly affected.

A prime example is that of forced staff mobility and permanent restructuring, presented as a means of preventing conflicts of interest. This policy deprives the Commission de facto of its expertise. It reduces its ability to put forward proposals adapted to the EU’s policies. This represents a significant waste of talent and is demotivating.

At present, it is the control of working time (even control of tasks in certain cases) and the procedure for managing professional incompetence which represent a threat and could decisively undermine the way the Commission works.

The independence and permanence of the civil service, the safeguards of its political role, are more than ever at stake.

The proposed electronic supervision of working time, when such a control cannot be justified by the Staff Regulations or by a decision of the College, undermines productivity and accountability. It leads to administrative rigidities and increased red-tape.

A new organisational culture influenced by excessive controls could emerge. It may rapidly imperil the trust between colleagues, which is a major pillar of our organisation based on collegiality. Distrust and frustration are particularly potent when it comes to demotivating staff, and can lead to a significant loss of efficiency. We recommend, on the contrary, implementing simple, flexible, inexpensive ways of controlling working time based on trust, thereby safeguarding cooperation between colleagues and the innovative nature of our institution.

With regard to professional incompetence, it is essential first of all to ensure that preventive measures are put in place to avoid such situations. Then, joint appeal procedures should be set up. Lastly, the procedures put in place must not lend themselves to the development of arbitrary practices and must concern exclusively cases which are objectively justifiable. The risk of putting in place practices that undermine the spirit of creativity and initiative must not be underestimated.

It is important to avoid abuses and ensure the smooth running of the services, but there is still a fundamental need not to deprive the Commission of its unique competences: being the executive of the European Union charged with implementing the Treaties and the holder of the right of initiative.

To that end, we propose in annex 12 key principles that should govern control of working time, staff mobility and professional incompetence policies.

We hope that this constructive message will be heard. It is delivered by people who, every day, work modestly but with conviction towards the integration of the European Union.


Annex to the letter : Twelve key principles that should govern control of working time, staff mobility and professional incompetence policies