Flash info October 2016 :
Recognition of periods of service performed under
Contract Agents of the EU
Delegations : New DGE (conditions of employment) (Octobre 2017)
USHU urges COMM to give CONTRACT AGENTS what they rightly deserve !!
A STRUCTURED MOBILITY SCHEME THAT MAINTAINS HIGHLY
MOTIVATED AND QUALIFIED STAFF IN THE INTEREST OF THE SERVICE
Contract Agents in Delegations are excellent
value for money
Can the COMM AFFORD to lose more CAs as a result of a mobility policy ?
USHU participated actively together with other OSPs and on behalf of COMM
contract agents based in Delegations in the recent administrative concertation
(01/04/2014) and Technical Concertation (03/04/2014) and wishes to inform you of
• USHU confirms there is a flagrant disparity of treatment between
Officials ( rotation policy) and Contract Agents ( proposed mobility policy) –
USHU is aware that CAs have a different contractual status however the measures
proposed such as originally 6 years and currently 5 years in a 30% ICV
delegation are wholly unjustified and will only serve to weaken the service
rather than ensure a balanced approach to more and less difficult countries. BE
FAIR TO CAs!
• USHU notes there has been little attempt to palliate the effect of a CA3a
coming to Brussels on an "exceptional" and "temporary assignment" – there
appears to be no denial that the current conditions ( lack of Annex X, lower
salary grades, short-term higher expenses in Brussels) will make it difficult
for many CAs to even consider a 4-year stay in Brussels yet COMM is incapable of
finding a workable solution.
• USHU analysed the Statistics provided by DEVCO which clearly demonstrate
that contrary to what many may claim, there has been regular mobility and the
proof of this is that only 52 CAs out of 850 have been in DEL for 8 years or
• USHU believes the COMM proposal is not workable for all Function Groups and
certain Profiles. In FG III there are members in operational and F&C sections
and insufficient numbers for a flexible and obligatory system. EEAS colleagues
have also similarly indicated that very specific political and country context
profiles are not easily transferable…
• USHU believes Contract Agents are competent and responsible staff members
who welcome a structured mobility scheme and will not deliberately obstruct but
aim to find feasible opportunities for mobility whilst taking a whole range of
variables into consideration.
USHU requests solutions for these MAJOR UNRESOLVED ISSUES:
1. OBLIGATORY and CONTRACT TERMINATION – USHU believes even 1 CA, forced to
leave the COMM / dismissed as a result of the proposed Mobility Procedure – is
one too many! There are NO SANCTIONS whatsoever for Officials – on the contrary
when HQ has problems with candidates for rotation, they introduce INCENTIVES –
yes, 20 or more new Middle Management posts to entice Officials to Delegations!
2. USHU emphasises that the current proposal of 5 years for 30% ICV is
unfeasible. CAs in all Cat 3 must have the option of an early mobility .
Currently 30% countries include : Myanmar, West Bank & Gaza, Honduras,
Uzbekistan etc – it is clear that some CAs could be in difficulty to stay in
these 30% countries for periods greater than 4 years – even with the proposed 4
years, CAs would already be staying 33% longer than Officials and the current
proposal is we stay 66% longer / 5 years – untenable.
3. Lack of checks and balances/safety valves – USHU underlined the need to
clearly stipulate how a CA would have access to an appeal/arbitrage in the case
of conflict concerning mobility ( ie inability/refusal to accept posts offered)
– COMM even proposes that you could be offered Delegations that are not included
in your list of 5 ! – indeed a colleague may be happy to accept a non-preferred
post but this should not be imposed on him/her. At ANY POINT IN TIME, an
Official can withdraw his application for rotation and once again – NO SANCTION
– Delete Art 5 (12) !
4. Exceptional and Temporary Assignment to HQ/Brussels – The total of posts
available in Brussels for temporary assignments as foreseen, will not exceed 40
at any given time for DG DEVCO ( for other DGs this will generally be even less)
! If posts are staggered over a 4-year period, we expect approx. 10 posts per
annum and maybe less.
A very limited number of posts available at HQ. USHU requests COMM to come
forward with the mitigating measures in order to ensure that an exceptional and
temporary assignment in Brussels could be viable for ALL CA3a colleagues.
USHU on behalf of CAs in Delegations, has been long demanding a
transparent and accessible mobility scheme in the interest of the service &
where possible combined with individual professional interests.
Motivation matters ! Is it really so difficult to achieve this ?
CAs : draft guidelines on mobility for CAs in DEL under
On the eve of Christmas holidays, 16/12/2013, Staff
Representatives & Trade Unions received the draft guidelines for comments in
relation to the proposed EEAS scheme for Contract Agent mobility.
Near You mobilized itself quickly in order to thoroughly
study the EEAS proposal and to compare it with what the Commission has in the
pipeline: NEAR YOU advocates for a harmonized approach where possible to the
same staff category in both institutions and therefore strongly encourages the
EEAS and COMM to aim for a scheme whose fundamental principles are common even
if implementing provisions may need to differ slightly according the needs of
On 21/01/2014 and at our request, NEAR YOU held a one hour
meeting with EEAS management in order to convey specific comments on the
proposed text among which the following points were considered a priority:
• NEAR YOU supports the proposed pilot exercise however it
would be important to specify which period is covered and to aim for a
fully-fledged mobility as soon as possible.
• NEAR YOU questions the fundamentally different approach
whereby the EEAS confirms the scheme will be "voluntary" whereas to date COMM
indicates it will be "compulsory".
• NEAR YOU welcomes the fact that the EEAS advocates an
open, transparent process with the publication of posts and subsequent selection
procedure – we believe there is a role at HQ to ensure a strict monitoring of
the process and to avoid any conflicts of interest.
• The proposed duration of 5 years is different to that of
officials which is normally 4- NEAR YOU underlined the fact that this could
cause problems for couples/families composed of Officials and CAs and that a
flexible approach should be adopted to promote family reconciliation as needed.
• Whilst there may be advantages to opening vacancies to
CAs at HQ, it must be clear that the target of this mobility scheme is CAs
currently in Delegations who under Annex X of the Staff Regulations, are subject
to institutional mobility which includes a temporary period at HQ – this is
clearly not the case for CA3b in EU institutions.
• NEAR YOU expressed strong concern over the conditions
under which CAs in DEL would be expected to work at HQ. They would no longer be
covered by Annex X provisions such as reimbursement of accommodation/living
conditions allowance etc and would remain on CA3a salaries which are
considerably lower than those of CA3b counterparts working at HQ – the EEAS is a
aware of these difficulties but has no solution to date.
NEAR YOU congratulates the EEAS on having finally produced
this proposal never-the-less it is imperative that this scheme be implemented in
the best possible manner and be responsive to the needs of Contract Agents in
Delegation who have been waiting for an institution mobility since 2005, when
the first CAs were recruited in Delegations.
It is clear that with the changes to the Staff
Regulations and the continued discontent of Contract Agents in Delegations,
there is a certain political and legal expediency to introduce this scheme.
Contract Agents must be confident that any mobility
will truly form part of a career development path and not simply be another
isolated block in already highly fragmented Human Resources policy for Contract
See also : Contract Agents in
Delegations : EU Staff with indefinite duration contracts yet no Career
A working paper about CA3a colleagues in EU delegations
PAPER FOR DISCUSSION - NOT FINAL
The only EU Staff without Career Perspective
One simple but fundamental question concerning Contract
Agents of the European Union on the eve of the
Staff Regulation reform:
How can European Institutions increasingly rely on staff
that has no career development prospects?
Contract Agents perform all too similar if not the same tasks as AD and
AST Officials, but are denied possibility to progress professionally. This
glass-ceiling is inequitable, economically wasteful and against the EU interest.
Contract Agents demand costless changes to the Staff Regulations to make a
better, more coherent and fairer use of their critical role in keeping the
institutions operating within the current budgetary constraints.
Past, present and future of the Contract Agent staff category
When the statute of Contract Agents (CAs) was established back in 2005, the
goal of the European Commission (EC) was to save money by employing cheaper
staff performing non-core tasks for a limited period of time. CAs, in the EC
alone, amounted to 15% of the staff at the end of 2010 and to 18.1% at the
end of 2012 (about 6.000 colleagues)1
. CAs now represent 52% of all statutory expatriate staff working outside the EU.
As of today, CAs take on increasing responsibilities, often performing
managerial and core tasks, with a growing population of CAs under unlimited
duration contracts. In fact, CAs have become the lower-paid substitutes of AD
and AST Officials.
The importance of CAs has grown further with the establishment of the EEAS.
With the implementation of the new 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework,
the percentage of CAs with respect to total EU staff is set to increase even
more over time.
However, CAs lack a proper system of career development, leaving them as
the only staff category without any possibility for professional growth. CAs
are expected to remain at the same career level from day one until retirement,
irrespective of their merits and achievements.
CAs are aware of their importance, but perceive themselves as a
sub-category of EU personnel. Despite a successful CA EPSO competition,
numerous positive appraisal reports, extensive internal and external training
courses, impressive CVs and exponential increase of unlimited duration
contracts, CAs are excluded from professional development prospects, deprived of
a career promotion system, denied access to internal competitions and cannot
aspire to be more than a Third Secretary in EU Delegations, despite often acting
as verifying officers, interim Heads of Section and even as acting Chargés
Mindful of this reality, even the "Bureau of EU Heads of Delegation"
concluded back in 2007 that there was a need to provide the conditions to offer
CAs the possibility to build their career towards a post of Head of
Delegation. This is not surprising, as everyone working in an EU Delegation
knows that without CAs, EU Delegations would cease to function normally.
Worse still, an important population of CAs (type 3b, see below) working in
Brussels are dismissed after 3 years of service whatever their performance. This
irrational system which expels one third of its CA staff every year,
leads to a constant loss of institutional know-how and to a waste of
resources in a permanent cycle of "hiring, training and firing".
The high costs of keeping Contract Agents under current precarious
Providing career development prospects to CA staff of EU Institutions would
represent sound optimisation of in-house investments and better value for money
for tax payers than sustaining current restrictions and forced turnover. As
noted, the goal of establishing the CA staff category was to save money by
employing 'cheaper' staff easier to "hire and fire". From an economic
perspective, the outcome of this experiment is at the very least dubious.
Indeed, the EU saves money in lower salaries of a CA vis-à-vis that of Officials
undertaking the same tasks, as their basic salaries are between half to one
third of their Official counterparts. However, focusing exclusively on
salaries ignores important costs such as perpetual recruitment expenses,
wasted training courses, increased financial pressure on the social security
scheme, end of service indemnities and a range of other costs.
Let us examine the two types of Contract Agents: CAs type 3a, eligible
for indefinite duration contracts, and CAs type 3b whose contracts are
limited to 3 years.
CAs type 3a: Although the financial damage due to CA3a turnover is
less evident than that for CA3b, the impact is even more significant, since
accrued in-house knowledge and investment in their human capital are larger and
over longer periods of time. For every CA3a who leaves the EU to join
organisations where prospects for career development are considerably more
attractive (including to the UN, WB, IMF, ADB in case of CA Functional Group IV
and III as the most qualified personnel), the EU loses many years of
investment in trainings and specialised experience. This effect is
particularly dramatic in EU Delegations, as these specialists with experience in
various countries are particularly harder and costlier to replace. This brain
drain of highly specialised colleagues is symptomatic of woefully inadequate HR
CAs type 3b: As non-renewable 3-year CA3b contracts, every single year
the EU dismisses 33% of its CA3b employees. Not because of their bad performance
or because they are not needed anymore, but because of a failed and
irrational HR policy. Every year, colleagues lose their jobs through no
fault of their own and despite the fact that they are still needed in the EU
services. Some even say that "CAs in Brussels dedicate their first year
to learn, the second to give their best, and the last year to undertake medical
check-ups and look for their next job". It should be obvious to any
objective observer that in a specialised knowledge-based structure such as the
EU, the immense cost of hiring and training a mass of people, only to fire them
three years later, is a permanent drain of know-how, which is profoundly
damaging to the Institutions. We openly challenge this HR policy as an
affront to logic and a sheer waste of the EU tax-payers' money. The proposed
extension of the contract duration to 5 years represents a meek attempt to
improve the objective inefficiencies of current HR policy.
The current legislative framework stagnates CAs at the same level of
responsibilities for their entire professional life. The fact that an
organisation relies so heavily on staff who have no possibility whatsoever to
advance also implies a form of inter-hierarchical mistreatment in so far as the
competency and actual daily assignments are more and more often the same.
This eliminates any incentive to perform better.
How can EU Institutions rely on a staff category that has no career
development prospects? How can the EU HR policy be in contradiction with the
ones of its Member States' which do provide career perspectives, including
access to internal competitions for their contract staff working in public
The current HR policy towards CAs is irrational and discriminatory,
inefficient and unfair, costly to the taxpayer and highly de-motivating,
largely explaining the high turnover of CA staff. The EU, in its own
interest, needs to address this structural problem and provide career
development perspectives to CAs.
Instead of using the scientifically-questioned EPSO pre-selection
psychometric tests that claim to predict performance of staff through
overcrowded Open Competitions involving tens of thousands of candidates at the
cost of EURO 60.000 per recruit2, the EU
should save the taxpayer's money by tapping first into the reservoir of
in-house specialists with a proven track-record. Appreciating experience and
expertise is better substantiated than the speculative selection of staff. In
the same way, ACs should be allowed to opt for managerial positions on
equal terms as other staff members. This will eliminate the current cast system
and establish a healthier work environment with fairness and merit governing
ACs are mindful that some Member States worry about the
over-representation of certain countries among CAs. However, this refers to
corrective measures to be introduced in the implementation process of a new HR
policy towards CAs and shall not jeopardise the application of sound principles
of human resources management and simple common sense.
In order to improve the effectiveness of the HR policy and provide Contract
Agents with concrete possibilities of professional growth, tangible career
perspectives and restored motivation, the following steps should be undertaken
and where appropriate, the EU Staff Regulation (SR) amended, while taking into
account the climate of austerity and the necessity to achieve smart savings on
• Allow CAs to sit in EU internal competitions on the same lines as the
existing access granted to Temporary Agents (TAs). CAs are not allowed to
access internal competitions for jobs they are already performing and/or are
qualified to perform. There is no reason to allow TAs access to internal
competitions, yet prevent CAs from doing so. It is therefore proposed to amend
Art 29 of SR as follows: "[…] a competition internal to the institution,
which shall be open only to officials, temporary agents and contracts agents as
defined […]". Related articles of SR and of the Conditions of Employment of
Other Servants (CEOS) shall be consequently adapted;
• Implement a mobility system for CAs. The relevant provision in the
SR (Art 2 of Annex X) has already been modified back in 2009. However, as for
now, a structured mobility system for CAs has not been put in place yet. It is
imperative to elaborate and implement relevant provisions without further delay.
If the problem relates to having CA3b and CA3a in the same place of employment,
then due consideration should be given to the possibility of eliminating
distinction between the two types of contract. In fact, the description of
Functional Groups and Tasks is identical for CA3b and CA3a, yet there exists an
artificial difference in salary grids, entry levels and contract duration;
• Elaborate certification procedure for CA IV to become AD and for CA III
and II to become AST. ASTs with good work appraisal can, after a number of
years in the service, apply for a strict certification procedure to become ADs.
Most AST competitions do not require University degrees and managerial
experience whereas most CA IV positions do. Hence, it is coherent to allow for
CA IV – with higher academic credentials than ASTs – to be entitled to access on
an equal basis the certification process to be promoted to AD and for CA III and
II to be promoted to AST;
• Organise Specialists EPSO Competitions on a regular basis at AD7 level
and above instead of AD5. When the institutions have access to CAs as a
reservoir of candidates with the relevant work experience and a proven track
record within the EC, it is irrational to foment the hiring of candidates with
no previous work experience (level AD5);
• Remove the Glass Ceiling for CAs. Since the introduction of CAs in
2005, experience has shown that in many cases CAs perform core tasks, both in
Brussels and abroad, including operational and financial verification roles,
representation tasks on behalf of the EU, acting Heads of Sections and Offices
and even acting Heads of Delegation. Indeed, the EC Working Group on core / non
core tasks of CAs concluded back in 2009 that CAs do perform core tasks. As the
EU replaces more and more officials with ACs, this theoretical limitation
creates operational and administrative contradictions, from visa circuits, to
reporting lines, access to work premises, etc. It is therefore proposed to amend
Art 80.2 of CEOS and other related articles replacing the sentence "under the
supervision of Officials and Temporary Staff" with "under the supervision of the
• Harmonise the third EU language requirement between CAs and Officials /
TAs. The current language requirements are more demanding for CAs than for
Officials and TAs. In fact, CAs must demonstrate their knowledge of a third EU
language to be eligible for an indefinite contract, while an Official or TA
requires it only to be promoted. It is therefore proposed to amend Art 80.3 of
CEOS and other related articles accordingly;
• Increase the value of the knowledge of non-EU languages. It goes
without saying that the knowledge of a non-EU language is an important asset in
the interest of the EU services. However, this is not reflected in any career
development or promotion system of staff. Most EU national services do take it
• Introduce CAs in the diplomatic list of the host country on the same
lines as the existing grid for Officials / TAs. Currently, a CA working in a
Delegation cannot be graded diplomatic status above "Third Secretary" for
his/her entire professional life. The majority of CAs are accredited as "Attachés"
and in some instances only as technical staff without full diplomatic status.
This does not reflect the internal functioning of EU Delegations around the
world and diminishes the credibility of EU staff when negotiating with external
• Introduce a CAs salary grid system on the same lines of the existing
salary grid system for Officials / TAs. The salary grid for CAs has 18
grades, and 7 steps in each grade; whereas Officials / TAs have 16 grades and 5
steps in each grade. Consequently, CAs are further disadvantaged with a "slower"
salary scale progression than ADs and TAs. It is therefore proposed to amend Art
93 of CEOS and related articles accordingly;
• Introduce 15 as an entry grade for CA3a. The absence of grade 15 as
an entry point for CA3a results in very broad grading bands (0 to 8 years for
grade 13 and 8 to 21 years for grade 14). Similarly, failure to have entry
grades 17 and 18 means that there is no mechanism to recognise relevant
professional experience above 21 years. It is reminded that CA3b may be
recruited to any grade. It is therefore proposed to amend Art 86.1 of CEOS and
related provisions accordingly;
• Allow CAs with indefinite duration contracts to request leaves on
personal grounds (CCP - ‘congé de convenance personnelle’) along the
lines existing for Officials. Currently, CCP for CAs may not exceed 12
months over the whole of his/her career, while in the course of an Official’s
entire career the CCP may be up to 15 years. Considering the exceptional nature
of this provision and taking into account the implicit differences in statute,
it is proposed to introduce CCP for CAs for a maximum of 5 years in a career.
Similarly, the relevant SR provision on secondment and standing for public
office should also apply to CAs with indefinite duration contracts.
1 European Commission's 2012
Human Resources Report. As an example, in 2008, the EC recruited 1.150
Officials, 800 Temporary Agents and 2.200 CAs.
2 Source: Common Joint Committee (COPARCO)
CA Task Force