On the eve of the future reorganizations that the new Commission will not fail to initiate,

R&D demands that clear procedures are put in place.

Reorganization of DG RTD:

Reassurances but also a “NANO” surprise


In this context, it is important to draw lessons from the mistakes of the past and take into account good practices by closely involving the staff and their representatives at every stage of the process.


Never again reorganisations as disastrous as that of DG GROW

It is absolutely necessary to avoid new disastrous reorganizations as those witnessed in the past, decided overnight at the whim of the prince, the princess or a head of cabinet, without any consultation and transparency, with assignments and mobilities imposed without any dialogue or explanation … an example not to be followed is the creation of the new DG GROW, which was decided upon the arrival of the Juncker Commission, and whose staff is still paying the consequences today ( link ).


In the preparation of its proposals, R&D consulted the best experts and took into account the results from the different Staff Surveys

As always, R&D did not limit itself to assisting colleagues and denouncing mismanaged reorganizations but we thoroughly studied the results of the Staff Survey and organized several meetings with specialists to present proposals finally allowing our institution to reorganize its services on the basis of clear procedures, with a participatory approach closely involving staff and their representatives ( link )  .

According to the specialists, in the event of reorganization it is essential to complete the “PDCA cycle” with its four phases:

  • The P phase – Plan
  • The D phase – Do
  • The C phase – Check
  • The A phase – Act, Abandon or Adjust the project.

As part of any reorganization we must also remember the essential role of listening and communication that are not to be confused with practices aimed at trying to sell ex post decisions already taken in secret.

A true communication requires listening to colleagues well before adopting decisions by associating them closely with the process and once the reorganization is implemented, it is important to continue the dialogue by asking for feedback in order to correct any errors.

In this respect, we’ve appreciated that in the reorganization of his services, the Secretary-General wished to meet the representatives of the staff to present the details by engaging in a constructive dialogue. This was a very first step in the right direction, although in this case the dialogue was organized just before the adoption of the new organization chart.


The participatory approach adopted for the implementation of DG RTD’s reorganization is yet another step in the right direction …

Following discussions and consultations with the staff organized since July 2018, on 15 January the Director-General presented the draft organizational charter to the colleagues. Faithful to our commitment to always offer a listening ear to our colleagues, we have invited the staff of DG RTD to share with us their remarks, suggestions, critics and wishes ( link ).

Many of you contacted us and we would like to thank you for your confidence.

Regarding the reorganization of DG RTD, we particularly appreciated the break with the bad practices observed in the framework of exercises of this type and:

– the participative approach in the process of adoption of this draft organizational chart and the missions entrusted to each service, by organizing, from the planning phase, a dialogue with the staff and its representatives through meetings, talks, and discussions over a cup of coffee, including within each unit,

– the commitment to break internal silos and to avoid the unnecessary multiplication of the layers of hierarchy,

– the will to ensure a credible size of the units and directorates by putting an end to micro entities such as the former Directorate C which comprised only three units of limited size and whose functioning was already problematic, as confirmed by the results from the Staff Survey (link) and even more by the comments expressed in this context,

– the decision to allow, after the presentation of the draft organizational chart, each and every colleague to express three priorities as concerns their assignment so that everyone could find, in so far as possible, their desired place within the new structure, after having been informed both of the specific missions of each service and of the name of the head of unit and the respective director because those elements are important.

Those are the measures that have been applied for some time in the most advanced administrations that R&D has consistently asked from DG HR to take during every reorganisation and that DG HR has always refused to apply.

On 30 April, the Director-General of DG RTD announced to the staff the approval by the Commission of the new organizational chart, which took effect on 1 June, and you continued to share with us your remarks.



While appreciating the participatory approach, you have nevertheless shared your impression that the process has been too long (see below), which had created a climate of uncertainty and required additional efforts on the part of colleagues to carry out their missions.

Similarly, regarding the allocation of resources to each service, you told us that the process did not seem to be always clear and easy to understand.

As concerns the assignment of the staff, after the initial uncertainty following from the request to staff to present their priorities without knowing in details the skills and profiles needed by each service, we have taken note of the information provided by DG RTD that, in a very large majority of cases, the first priority expressed by the colleagues has been honored and that at present all colleagues have received their final assignment.


but also … a “NANO” surprise!

The final new organisational chart of DG RTD nevertheless bought a last-minute surprise introduced with the adoption of the chart by the Commission, that is the creation of an “International” Directorate, a new Directorate H, which is a unique case because it is the first “NANO” directorate of our institution, comprising about twenty colleagues divided between TWO units only.

From “micro” Directorate C through the “future ex” Unit 05 to the “NANO” Directorate H !

The new Directorate H takes over a part of the missions of the “future ex” Unit 05 “Global Europe” – that according the draft organisational chart presented to the staff was supposed to replace former Directorate C – while others are entrusted to the new Unit 05 “Association Europe”.

Thus, the new Directorate H becomes the first “NANO” Directorate of our institution … however facing no risk of being further reduced because a lesser size would simply be impossible… as confirmed by our colleagues competent in nanotechnology!

We further share the astonishment of colleagues who had chosen to be assigned to the “future ex” Unit 05 “Global Europe” and had already met their “future ex” head of unit whose name had been announced officially and who, following this last-minute change, has decided to return to his former assignment in his former DG…

First and foremost, R&D wishes to pay tribute to the colleagues who have taken up the challenge of choosing to work in Directorate H despite the fact that the extremely small size of this service may not facilitate the accomplishment of their tasks. Furthermore, R&D remains available to assist them with any possible difficulties they may face.


Explanations are needed!

Indeed, such reversals in the very last minute during the adoption of the organizational Chart by the Commission, suddenly calling into question a number of principles invoked as being in the basis of its design, cannot go unnoticed and without explanation! 

Since the Commission, in all cases, remains solely responsible for the organization of its services, we do not want to believe that these changes introduced at the very last minute in the organization of DG RTD could, in any way, to be the result of a “politicization” of the process of adoption of this organization chart, having even been able to delay its adoption.


R&D stands against any attempts to politicize the organization of the services of our institution

It is obvious that no procedure governing the reorganization of the services of our institution will be credible if the process is not protected from external interventions.

Alas, it is more and more frequent that the representatives of Member States, by invoking the geographical balance in sharing management positions and by claiming to apply it to the smallest scale, by fiercely defending certain candidates to the detriment of all others, including of the same nationality, they come to claim a fixed quota for their nationals in the organizational chart of each Directorate-General.

This is being done despite the fact that under the Staff Regulations priority must always be given to the professional qualities of the candidates, nationality remaining only a secondary factor to take into account.

Like parachuting, such practices lead to demotivation of the other staff members who, very naively, still remain faithful to their mission as EU officials, being proud to be so, and refuse to renounce their independence and assume the role of mere representatives of their Member State, to whom they would be obliged for their appointment, in order to preserve their career prospects.

In this regard, on April 15 in the current debate on the reform of the appointment procedures of senior management, we addressed Mr. Oettinger (link) and the ongoing reorganization of DG RTD and we indicated that:

“(…) By way of example, during the ongoing reorganization of a Commission Directorate-General, after the publication of the draft organisational chart, we learned that a permanent representation has come to dictate a “magic formula” to be respected in all cases, that is, a quota of the positions expected in the organization chart for civil servants of this nationality by types of functions, the calculations going as far as the level of deputy head of unit.

Some now imagine that such a claim, clearly unacceptable, would not be firmly dismissed by our institution, but on the contrary would probably call into question the adoption of the DG’s organizational chart, if not modified, in order to honour the most “noble” part of the so-called “magic formula”!”

We are waiting for a reply from Mr Oettinger that we will not fail to request. In this context, we also reserve the right to request access to any document that may help to explain the genesis of these last-minute changes.


Let us learn from this experience together!

It is obvious that a reorganization does not mean that everything will be frozen forever in the new configuration and it is important to remain attentive to the staff and its representatives in a logic of continuous improvement.

We therefore invite you to share with us your comments about the new organizational chart of DG RTD in its final version and about the process that led to its adoption: your opinion is very valuable to us!

Our experts are still at your disposal in order to assist you in case of difficulties with your assignment.

R&D phone: 55676; osp-rd@ec.europa.eu