Brussels, 22 March 2017
Note to the attention of M. Selmayr, Head of Cabinet of President Juncker,
And of M. Italianer, Secretary-General of the Commission
Subject : Cabinet members’ «Parachuting» at the end of the College’s term of office
Ref: Our note to your attention, dated 6 February 2017
Your statements under item 7.12 of the minutes of the Heads of Cabinet’s meeting held on 30 January 2017
By our note above mentioned, we wished to thank you for your statements expressed during the meeting of the Heads of Cabinet held on 30 January 2017, which aimed at highlighting the inacceptable nature of the “parachuting” mechanism that occurs at the end of a term of office, and which R&D has always denounced.
Your statements at the meeting of the Heads of Cabinet held on 30 January 2017 (cf. item 7.12)
In particular, on this occasion, you confirmed that:
“Shall not be allowed”:
– “the appointment of Cabinet members to management positions in the Directorate-General operating under their portfolio and placed under their direct supervision.”
– “as well as appointments of Cabinet members in a Directorate-General to get promotion and reintegration in a Cabinet as soon as this promotion is obtained.”
In support to these instructions, you pointed out that:
“These practices are demotivating for the rest of the staff who doesn’t get promoted as fast as the Cabinet members.”
Although we had welcomed your statements that are a very good start, they are not enough.
Following the circulation of our above-mentioned note, we received a great many reactions that need to be brought to your attention.
The staff’s reactions, more than sceptical
It must be noted at the outset that colleagues expressed us their deep scepticism as to the effective scope of your statements; no one believes that things are actually going to change.
The reactions of our colleagues allowed us to gather a fairly complete collection of proverbs on the credulity topic… “we no longer believe in Santa Claus”, “promises are only valid for those who want to believe it” … staff is not a fool!
Some colleagues even congratulated us for the ironic and sarcastic tone used in our letter, though being well aware that we didn’t believe for a second that your commitments could have had even the slightest impact on this ‘parachuting” scourge.
In particular, everyone thinks that:
– the administration will certainly come forward with some bright idea and interpretation that will keep on allowing some “parachuting” in the DG subordinate to the Cabinet portfolio, claiming in particular that the interested member did not have direct responsibility for the dossier which he will have to manage in the planned Unit/Directorate airstrip service; which is obviously laughable because that would drain your statements of any useful effect.
– a forum exchange for ‘parachuting’ beneficiaries between College members / Cabinet members would already be organized, each taking care to ensure the good landing of paratroopers assigned to the Cabinets of others, within the Directorate-General depending on his portfolio.
Many have told us that the extent and spreading of this “parachuting” practice were confirmed by the fact that many “airstrip posts” were already blocked or were being released for this purpose in the organization charts sometimes in a very expeditious manner, causing profound demotivation of colleagues.
Having regard to the information provided to us by colleagues, this would primarily concern DG TAXUD.
Similarly, it seems that many “external” procedures with regard to Article 29(2)* of the Staff Regulations would be in preparation to the benefit of internal candidates assigned to a Cabinet, and who would not be eligible for internal appointment, to appoint / nominate TA 3c), or to appoint / promote, with jump of several grades, civil service colleagues.
Moreover, everyone seems to be sure that our administration is totally incapable of putting an end to such practices or, even worse, that it would be ready to use its competences for deleterious manoeuvres as was the case with internal competitions organized in 2014 for the benefit of Cabinet colleagues by using and abusing the legitimate expectations of post-2004 colleagues.
In this respect, many colleagues informed us that a new internal competition for establishment would be currently under consideration, within the administration, with modalities just as questionable as those applied at the end of the Barroso Commission.
R&D kindly invites you to respond to staff concerns and to dispel their fears
In response to colleagues’ scepticism, we confirmed that it is undeniable that your statements are a step in the right direction that R&D has always defended, since you finally recognize the existence of these slippages, their disastrous effects on staff motivation and that you are announcing concrete measures to limit them.
Moreover, we emphasized that it was unimaginable that the Head of the President’s cabinet and the Secretary-General of our institution should be able to make such statements and not backing them up with genuine action.
In this regard, we recalled that the former Secretary General had purely and simply dared to deny the existence of “parachuting”, what has angered the staff and imposed a very strong reaction from our side.
It should not be forgotten that the former Secretary General had purely and simply dared to deny the existence of the problem, which had imposed a very strong reaction from our side (link).
Similarly, it cannot be denied that, through your statements, you confirm the rightness of our positions towards the despicable practice of the “parachuting-geyser”, namely the appointment of a Cabinet member to a management post in a Directorate-General, followed by immediate reintegration in a Cabinet.
Nevertheless, given the practices of the past and the absence of any political will from your predecessors to limit them, as well as the inability of the administration to oppose them, we fully understand the scepticism of colleagues and kindly invite you to please give them an answer that would help them restore their trust and motivation.
No one can doubt that it would be really unacceptable to see that we would be facing an approach in line with the novel “The Leopard”: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
Your statements are a very good start, but that’s not enough
In light of the above, once again, we kindly appeal to you to:
– ensure that your statements are not voided of any useful effect by the fanciful interpretations of the administration and services:
– continue the undertaken efforts to establish a clear and comprehensive framework concerning the management of the end of the secondment of Cabinet members at the end of the term of office of the College.
In this context, we reiterate our request that, at the end of each mandate, taking of course into account the rules on the protection of personal data, the Commission undertakes to draw up a summary of career developments and appointments of Cabinet members, in particular with regard to the career evolutions established by “external” procedure, in light of Article 29(2) of the Staff Regulations.
Once again, we would like to remind that R&D never meant to doubt in any way the skills of our Cabinet colleagues. R&D always wanted to defend the credibility of our institution and of its appointment procedures, as well as to take into consideration the devastating effects of such practices on the motivation of the rest of the staff which you acknowledged in your statements, which we thank you for.
From our side, we will keep on collecting the information from colleagues who report the foreseen and/or proven “parachuting” practices within a Directorate-General and we will systematically keep on submitting them to your attention.
To put an end once and for all to the slippages and “parachuting” practices occurring every time a term of office comes to its end, this is what the Commission of the last chance must do.
CC: Mr G. OETTINGER, Vice-President of the Commission
Mrs I. SOUKA, Mr C. LEVASSEUR, Mr C. ROQUES (DG HR)
Mr Quest TAXUD
*Article29(2): A procedure other than the competition procedure may be adopted by the Appointing Authority for the recruitment of senior officials (Directors-General or their equivalent in grade AD 16 or AD 15 and Directors or their equivalent in grade AD 15 or AD 14) and, in exceptional cases, also for recruitment to posts which require special qualifications.