After Selmayr scandal EU is still accused of trying to cherry-picking | World | News
The contentious employment strategy has sparked protests amongst existing Commission staff and trade unions amid growing concerns that well-connected candidates were people given preferential treatment for roles earning over €4,500 a month.
This is not the first time the Commission, the EU’s powerful executive body, has been criticised for its employment strategy after Jean-Claude Juncker’s former right-hand man Martin Selmayr was parachuted into the position of Secretary-General, making the 47-year-old German the EU’s most powerful civil servant.
Despite complains from MEPs and hours of committee hearings in the European Parliament, Mr Selmayr, known as the “monster of Brussels”, maintained the coveted role with the Commission denying any wrongdoing in the recruitment process.
The Commission has now launched a new pilot project, the Junior Professionals Programme, allowing hand-picked candidates to skip much of the rigorous application process for grade five administrative posts within the EU’s civil service.
Normally an open competition, usual vacancies attract tens of thousands of applications with the hopefuls have to pass several exams before even being considered for an interview, with only a few hundred making a reserve list.
Laszlo Zlatarov, co-founder of eutraining.eu, a Budapest-based firm training people for the EU job application process, said the Commission’s new JPP scheme, which was launched in June, allows influential employees to parachute candidates at the front of the queue.
He said: “The JPP process opens up the possibly for those in influential positions to put forward preferred people, giving them a fast-track, easy path to an EU career.”
The new scheme was originally reserved for Blue Book trainees, an EU institutional internship programme, but backlash forced the Commission to open up the programme to temporary staff, contractors and some officials.
JPP applications were place online internally for ten days in June, allowing each hiring Commission directorate general to hand-pick at list five candidates from the list of possible suitors.
Because the majority of applicants are Blue Book interns, they cannot have more than three years professional experience.
The pre-selected candidates will undertake a compute-based test at a recruitment centre in either Brussels of Luxembourg.
Candidates only have to achieve a “pass mark” before going straight to the interview stage, unlike the majority of applicants.
Mr Zlatarov added: “The pass mark is relatively easy to achieve, most people achieve the pass mark in the open exams.
“The difficulty in the open exams is that the pass mark alone is not enough, you also need to be amongst the best of all to be able to proceed.”
After the interview process, the chosen pilot scheme candidates will work at AD5 temporary agents for two years before obtaining, through “exclusive” internal competition, a highly sought after permanent position.
The JPP was open for around 40 people, which is around 20 percent of the project AD5 hires over two years.
Renouveau and Démocratie, a trade union representing EU institutional staff, says the scheme “opens the door wide to favouritism and nepotism”.
Another trade union, TAO-AFI, have launched a petition with over 1,000 Commission staff signing against the pilot project.
The Petition demands EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who is in charge of human resources, to reconsider the programme and base the recruitment process on equality, competence and merit.
A Commission spokeswoman has denied the programme allows officials to hand-pick their applicants, insisting they are hoping to “attract the best young talent” for the Brussels project.
She said: “This pilot initiative is a new approach to attract the best young talent for the organisation. It follows the example of most, if not all, employers in international organisations and the private sector.
“It goes without saying that passing a rigorous competition remains the only way to join our world-class civil service, and this applies to Junior Professionals too.
“The selection of candidates is entirely based on merit.”