Brussels, 16 June 2020


R&D requires a review, a method, a real involvement of the staff and a social dialogue worthy of the name

According to the basic principle “Never let a good crisis go to waste”, the new DG of DG HR announced on last 29 May the launch of a broad staff consultation process with a view to implementing a new 2021 human resources management strategy.

This new strategy would be structured around the following points:

  •  Talent
  •   Diversity and Inclusion
  •   Leadership and Management
  •   Workplace and Well-being
  •   Technology
  •   Culture and Organization

Since 2004, the Commission has the unfortunate tendency to link the “modernization of the human resources management policy” to a whole series of measures associated with the reduction of colleagues’ rights, and / or staff and / or working spaces, all of which  provoked a regular and irreversible decline in the quality of working life.

These measures also had a very negative impact on the ability to attract and retain the best talents, as the Commission finally had to acknowledge in its communication highlighting the problems observed with regard to the attractiveness of the European civil service (lien).

Faithful to its principles, R&D will fully and actively participate in this consultation with constructive proposals.

However, to ensure the seriousness of this staff consultation, R&D requests:

  •  clarity on the true objectives of this exercise
  •  a review of previous measures
  •  involvement of staff at all stages of the process· a structured social dialogue.

« Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est1 » : a modernization what for?

In its communication of 29 May, the Commission claims that it is a question of offering a “pleasant working environment, good working tools, staff development …”

The COVID-19 crisis demonstrated that staff, despite the obvious limits of the Commission’s human resources management policy, have once again demonstrated their loyalty and commitment not only to the EU but also to the Commission, by not hesitating to always work more when it was necessary, as has always been confirmed in the past by the results of the various staff surveys (cf. staff survey… ).

So, in order to avoid that this new “modernization” announced by DG HR leads to yet another failure, R&D demands that the true objectives of this reform are clearly displayed with clear evaluation criteria for all.

The institution must have the courage to openly display its real objectives without once again hiding behind empty slogans.

Would it not be rather a purely budgetary operation?

This so-called modernization of our human resources management policy should not become a budgetary exercise, aimed at obtaining new savings on the backs of staff adding to those, already very heavy, of the successive reforms as rightly pointed out by the Court of Auditors in its report (  special report 2019/15 , The 2014 Reform – “Big savings” at the expense of the staff ).

In such a case, we should discuss with DG BUDG rather than with DG HR…

This is unfortunately the case for the dossier concerning the delegation of new tasks to the executive agencies, which is managed according to a purely and exclusively budgetary logic, with staff considered to be simply “credits”, even though it concerns the future, career prospects and well-being at work of several hundred colleagues.

Inventory right

It is essential to drawing up a contradictory assessment of the latest “modernization” of the administration and the latest HR strategy, to avoid falling back into the same “amnesic” approach that was used for all other reforms in the past … one more disastrous than the next … implemented in absence of any critical analysis of the problems found, of their causes and their responsibilities.

Enough of these purely ideological reforms!

The Court of Auditors also invites the Commission to have “a better preparation and more rigorous monitoring of reform measures”.

Involve staff from the start

R&D has always argued that it is essential to involve staff and their representatives from the start, without trying to “sell” a ‘turnkey’ project, while solemnly committing to set up a broad process of consultation.

It’s time for the administration to go back to the fundamentals: listening to staff and its representatives

This means involving staff, the primary stakeholder, and their representatives in the development of policies.

On this point, we welcome Mrs Ingestad’s announcement to launch a series of consultations of staff, of which R&D has always defended the principle, namely that of staff surveys.

Of course, this consultation must be organized in a credible way, based on recognized and established standards. Let us avoid monologues and propaganda exercises aiming for the acceptance of the decisions already taken.

A real effective and structured social dialogue

It is symptomatic that in her communication Mrs Ingestad made no mention of social dialogue with staff representatives, and we regret it. We believe this is a simple oversight, … even if it is fairly recurrent in her communications …

With the constructive spirit that characterizes it, R&D remains convinced that it will be possible to make a preliminary analysis of the problems and of their functional and structural causes in order to draw lessons for the future.

Cristiano Sebastiani,



1 There is no favourable wind for someone who does not know where he is heading”, Seneca