R&D is welcoming the new organisational structure proposed by F4E Director that must be the beginning of a NEW ERA !

R&D proposals for:

 -A successful implementation of the F4E reorganisation,

-The F4E NEW STAFF POLICY to be implemented accordingly

We are glad that the F4E Director has presented a reorganisation proposal clearly showing that he shares our request for urgent, real, visible, and effective change with a deeper matrix approach. It is definitely a step in the right direction!

The Director can now count on our full and loyal cooperation in bringing this reorganisation to a successful conclusion in its implementing phase.

Still, this reorganisa­tion is ONLY THE FIRST STEP, a necessary but not sufficient condition in order to take into account the expectations of F4E staff and for implementing all changes needed.

This reorganisation must be the beginning of a totally NEW ERA, finally establishing at F4E a true value-based leadership culture, leading by example, a culture of trust by sweeping away management by fear and putting in place effective procedures against all forms of harassment and conflict at work, restoring trust in the fairness of the proce­dures.

So much remains to be done and it would be absolutely unacceptable to betray the trust and hopes shown by F4E colleagues, by implementing “tailor made” approaches” and organizing “ready-made” appoint­ments.

Keeping our constructive and proactive approach, we put forward detailed  proposals for a suc­cessful implementation of the F4E reorganisation and the new staff policy to be implemented accordingly.

The trust and hopes of F4E staff cannot be betrayed!

We trust the Director to ensure that this reorganisation will not become a simple question of “chairs”, a “power game”, a fight between managers who want to keep their position at all costs and as many col­leagues as possible under her/his leadership….

In such a case, we will not stand by and let this happen!

1. Reminder of the facts

From the very beginning of our presence at F4E, and in particular when the new Director took up his duties ( link ) R&D has been very committed to provide its contribution to help F4E move into a new era, calling management to lead by example putting the project and the people at the heart of the organisation to improve the working environment and Staff well-being. Asking to imple­ment a true culture of trust by sweeping away management by fear and putting in place effective procedures against all forms of harassment and conflict at work, restoring trust in the fairness of the proce­dures finally responding to the dramatic results of staff engagement surveys ( link ).

The staff engagement survey itself isn’t the end goal, rather, it’s about leveraging the results to identify and address issues. F4E needs to act! 

These dramatic results paint a portrait of F4E colleagues having lost trust in the management completely out of step with ex­pectations, with vague or unrealistic instructions, poorly defined objectives, and relational tensions not arbitrated by the institution. This simply means that there is no (or no longer any) effective management of teams and that staff is confronted with contradictory injunctions and unclear objectives and the whole organization of work is quite dysfunctional and source of problems.

Likewise, we pointed out that it is time to change behavioural standards by avoiding once and for all rudeness, exerting pressure, incentives for competition and conflict rather than cooperation, shifting blame and avoiding responsibility rather than solidarity and recognition of achievements, which had gained ground throughout the hierarchy. It became an accepted leadership style and thus served as an example, though a bad one. Such behavioural problems have had a negative effect on all staff and have led to a bunker mentality within restricted service groups; they are an impediment to cross-border or inter-service cooperation and run counter to what “matrix”-models are intended to be and should be.

For far too long F4E has stubbornly refused to recognise the problems in all their seriousness by trying to counter the results of the staff engagement surveys with a panoply of other disparate initiatives lacking the same scientific credibility.

Our request of full support of the Commission and the positive answer of Commissioners Hahn and Simpson 

We were fully aware of the real challenge of correctly implementing all these changes, a challenge that F4E could not have been able to manage alone. 

Thus, as part of the Commission’s reinforced governance of the Agencies and other external bodies, fully supported by R&D and for which F4E must set the benchmark, R&D has asked the Commission to duly increase its support to Fusion for Energy (F4E) for its reorganization ( link ). 

We are delighted to note that in their reply of 15 March ( link ), the two Commissioners have  confirmed that they fully share our request and in particular the : 

  • “As you rightly point out in your letter, the changes needed relate to the culture of the organisation, its long-term strategy, its working methods, and its management, including transparency in the F4E management’s decision-making process and in its relationship with F4E’s governance”

also pointing out that :

  • “These actions include the preparation and implementation of a revised organisational structure aligned to a new vision for the organisation. We support your view that there is a need to signal a clear departure from the past and implement the solutions that F4E staff legitimately expect”. 

2. Why a fully-fledged F4E’s reorganisation was so required

With this fully-fledged F4E’s reorganisation, colleagues must finally see their long-awaited taken into account through CONCRETE MEASURES AND REAL CHANGES no longer through empty slogans and self-satisfaction initiatives.

A fully-fledged reorganisation aiming at finally putting an end to the irrational and indefensible aspects of the current structure and to the unequitable distribution of responsibilities and workloads among services and colleagues, which has been denounced for too long but never really addressed.

Of course, a fully-fledged reorganisation is much more than just a new organisation chart BUT as reported by most experts publications the corporate culture of an organisation depends to a large extent also on the way it is structured, organised, and set up with regard to staff, entities and the distribution of work and responsibilities. 

Indeed, the organisational chart needed to be radically overhauled because it did not reflect the principles of logic, cohesion and fair distribution of competences and responsibilities that are key to avoid an imbalance in workloads and responsibilities, the concentration of too many duties on the one hand and the “side-lining” of some on the other.

As it has been underlined by the 2022 assessment report F4E had, in parts, an illogical organisational structure. There was no logical or operational explanation for the distribution of staff across Departments, Divisions, Units, and Groups: Department ranged in size from 24 to 167, units from 3 and 22 members, and groups up to 29 members.

The proposed reorganisation without applying blindly the Commission’s recommendations on the critical size of each entity, rightly harmonised Departments, units, and groups in terms of capacity, workload, and responsibility.

In putting forward these proposals, R&D has always been fully aware of the challenges posed by the changes to be implement­ed and of the extent of the inevitable internal resistance to be overcomed. Internal resistance also on the part of those now responsible for implementing the reorganization…

Indeed, after so many promises of change that have never really been put into practice, many F4E colleagues have already shared with us their fear that this reorganisation will in reality result in a simple redistribution of management posts … that “everything will be changed so that nothing really changes”.

3. Concerning the measures to be taken to ensure a successful implementation of the reorganisation

Continuous dialogue with the staff and its representatives

It is important to reemphasise the essential role of listening to and communicating with colleagues before the final imple­­mentation of the new organisational chart by involving them closely in the process. 

Likewise, all these changes must be implemented within the framework of a genuine social dialogue with the staff representa­tion and with its entire staff, avoiding giving any impression of choosing its interlocutors and even less attempting to divide the staff representation: “divide and impera” has no place in social dialogue within a European institution Taking into account the recommendations of the experts and Commission’s best practices, it is important to ensure:

  • the participatory approach in the process of final adoption of the draft organisational chart and the missions entrusted to each service, by organizing a dialogue with the staff and their representatives through meetings, talks and discussions;
  • – that every colleague be able to express priorities regarding his/her assignment so that everyone can find, as 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 department, as these elements are also important;
  • – the setting up of a “Listening chamber” made up of representatives from HR, operational services and staff representa­tives to deal with unresolved cases allowing colleagues to present their case and requests;
  • – once the organisational chart has been imple­mented, it is also essential to continue the dialogue by requesting feedback in order to correct any errors imple­mented, it is also essential to continue the dialogue by requesting feedback in order to correct any errors.

Set up of a TASK FORCE, involving staff representatives with the full support of the Commission’s central services at any stage of the process.

We are also fully aware of the real challenge of correctly implementing all the administrative procedures to be organised, a chal­lenge that the F4E administration could not manage alone. 

In this respect, a task force must therefore be set up, involving representatives of the Commission and staff representa­tives, to implement and monitor all the procedures to be organised as part of this reorganisation.

Set up clear mission statements of each and every entity 

It is essential to avoid ever giving the impression that procedures will be chosen, mission statements established, and de­cisions taken simply ad personam.

We fully agree with the criticism voiced by the F4E Staff Committee that it would be unacceptable deciding on the structure without a clear decision on the content of the ‘boxes’ triggering the ‘fight’ for scope, everybody encouraged to grasp as much as possible to increase “its territory”, trying to keep “pieces” of a unit that is no longer under the responsibility of a department in order to claim more FTEs…

Likewise, we share F4E Staff Committee’s remark that concerning the proposal presented, efforts to achieve more clarity are needed, certain tasks do not seem to have been clearly assigned, while the missions entrusted to certain units are particularly obscure.

By way of example we fully share the concerns voiced by the Staff Committee concerning the fact that:

  • – external communication and lobby in favor of Fusion activities and F4E are strategic areas of action and might become even more important in the future and we consider that these tasks are strategic and should be directly attached to the Director; 
  • – the missions entrusted to the ‘Outreach and Stakeholders Engagement’ Unit newly created in the new Corporate Services De­partment are totally unclear. It would be unacceptable if this Unit’s remit also included responsibilities for audit and discharge and the relations with the Institutions and the Member states. Indeed, in order to guarantee a proper system of “checks & bal­ances” and the independence of the functions at stake, it is once again necessary to establish a direct link to the Director.

Full transparency of the selection procedures for managers must be ensured : the trust and hopes of F4E colleagues cannot be betrayed by any “tailor made “approach and “ready-made” appointments!

Likewise, at implementation stage, once the content of the organizational chart “boxes” has been clearly established and the pro­cedures currently in place at F4E been streamlined, it is crucial to ensure full transparency of the selection procedures for all managerial positions to be filled.

All vacancy notices must be drafted with a clear focus on the main objectives, with measurable criteria and in full consistency with the new scope of the Department/Unit.

In any case, the choice of managers ultimately selected must not be the result of an incomprehensible and unjustified mix of posts not published at all, published internally, published externally, allocated resorting to mobility in the interests of the service, having regard to Article 7 of the Staff Regulations.

In this respect, we share with the greatest conviction the F4E Staff Committee’s position, concerning the fact the Head of Department (HoD) ap­pointments are crucial to the success of the reorganisation and therefore the casting must be right and that the four newly ap­pointed HoD must ALL be the credible face of a cultural change aiming at a real value-based leadership culture, sweeping away management by fear and toxic behaviours, reestablishing trust in the fairness of the procedures.  

That is why, as so rightly pointed out by the F4E Staff Committee, it is crucial to ensure fairness, equal treatment and consistency for the appointment of all the four HoDs also concerning their selection procedure avoiding to open some of the HoD positions but not others or not under the same conditions e.g. internal vs. external procedure, this of course not preventing current (acting) HoD or current (acting) HoU from applying for these posts.

In order to ensure greater fairness and transparency of the final decisions, R&D considers it is important to also include external members and external rapporteurs in the selection panels and the Commission must provide full support to guar­antee the necessary transparency of the procedure. 

It is also crucial to avoid any perception about the fact that real purpose of appointing “acting” colleagues is to “anticipate” formal appointments following the procedures to be organised.

In any case, when implementing these selection procedures, it is crucial to rule out any risk of favoritism, which R&D will not hesitate to publicly denounce also providing access to its specialised legal department for any colleague who will feel unfairly affected.

It is also time to finally address the “lack of transparency in the decision-making process, thus jeopardis­ing trust in the fairness of the decisions taken” mainly in relation to administrative decisions, denounced by F4E staff in all the staff engagement surveys.

More generally, to reinforce the accountability and address the abovementioned concerns, several measures must also be put in place in the framework of the F4E reorganisation. 

F4E is overly bureaucratic! In this respect it is essential to put in place all measures critical to ensure simplification, to break down internal silos and to avoid the unnecessary multiplication of hierarchical layers.     

In order to guarantee full accountability, improvement actions to address audit, assessment and governance recommendations have to be centralised establishing a direct link with the Director.

It is crucial to fully implement :

  • -the very welcomed decision to transfer the Legal Unit from the Corporate Department, avoiding any artificial split of responsi­bilities between the different departments based on the obvious aim of keeping as many posts as possible;
  • -a new financial delegation scheme that will allow a leaner approach to contract implementation and avoid the creation of bot­tlenecks putting responsibilities at the proper level so even on the level of group leaders who were previously heads of units.

4. Concerning the changes to be introduced to the F4E’s STAFF POLICY to bring it into line with the principles on which the new organisation is established.

R&D has duly appreciated the fact that the proposal put forward by the Director took into account our request to establish a clearer distinction between two career paths, that of Managers and that of Experts being EQUALLY important.

This proposal is the right answer to the feeling of the staff that the institution seemed to be concerned solely with the careers of its managers with an indisputable absence of recognition of the excellence of the scientific and technical work carried out by non-managerial colleagues and a random and unfair distribution of workload.  This approach is even more appropriate for F4E where so many specialists should not be forced to become managers in order to progress in their careers.

Indeed, all management specialists confirm that forcing a high-level expert to become a manager in order to progress in his/her career, quite often results in the institution losing the asset of an expert in order to retain the services of a substandard manager.

Thus, in full compliance with the provisions of the Staff Regulations that, as requested by R&D, since the 2014 Reform has duly considered this aspect, it is now necessary to implement also in terms of staff policy, the change of approach on which the reorgani­sation is based.

This concerns first of all the need to duly recognise the value of Expert profiles who do not occupy managerial positions .

This must be achieved through:

the implementation at F4E of Senior Experts posts (AD13 and AD14) to recognise technical responsibilities as valua­­ble as managerial ones. The fact that very few colleagues are currently eligible for these posts is of no importance insofar as it is a question of establishing F4E’s personnel policy for the coming years;

– the creation of deputy roles for ALL the managerial positions. Indeed, deputy functions duly recognise the increased lev­el of responsibility, ensure full capacity to address staff concerns that a single manager may not be able to cope with, and are fully in line with the Commission’s practice. The deputy functions are now even more needed in the light of the increased size of the new organisational entities foreseen by the reorganisation and will allow for continuity, an appropriate distribution of the workload, a clear delegation scheme, possibility of representativeness of different projects/groups;

– increase in promotion possibilities – particularly but not only – in the transitional phase following the implementation of the new organisation chart, in order to recognise the high level of responsibility of staff who perform high lev­el technical tasks, but who are not in management posts;

– the setting up an adapted skills database in order to implement an improved internal mobility policy, implemented in full transparency;

– the revision of all job descriptions to better assign tasks and the related responsibilities

It is urgent to implement at F4E the new Commission’s decision on harassment that has just been negotiated with full support of all trade unions.

Indeed, it can no longer be ignored that, in the light of the more than worrying results of the last psychosocial risk assessment sur­veys, the shocking conclusions of the external experts’ report is that F4E should review the processes implemented for harass­ment, violence at work and discrimination, and the particularities highlighted in the report to improve the performance of F4E in these situations and the results obtained”.

Concerning the excessive workload which was highlighted by the results of all the staff engagement surveys, once the new organ­isational chart has been adopted it will be important to check the associated benefits in terms of improving the efficiency of services also concerning the external staff and to deal with the remaining concerns.

In this respect, in order to be able to respond to urgent needs and/or unforeseen situations or crisis, it is also important to introduce some flexibility in the allocation of resources through the possibility of moving staff for a short period on voluntary ba­sis to sup­port teams and units that would otherwise not be able to manage an unexpected increase in workload.

It is absolutely necessary to abandon the approach according to which staff are “the property” of the manager concerned and clearly state that each colleague is at the service of F4E and that it is up to the Director, as appointing authority, to decide at any moment on the best allocation of resources while being fully accountable for his decisions.


The reorganisation presented is definitely a step in the right direction showing that F4E Director, the Commission and the GB bureau share the requests for urgent, real, visible and effective changes.

In implementing his proposal, the Director can now count on our full and loyal cooperation to successfully implement this reorgani­sation.

However, much remains to be done and it would be absolutely unacceptable to betray the trust and hopes shown by F4E col­leagues, implementing “tailor made” approaches” by organizing “ready-made” appointments.

We trust the Director to ensure that this reorganisation will not become a simple question of “power games for chairs”, a fight be­tween managers who want to keep their position at all costs and as many colleagues as possible under their leadership… with the rest of the staff watching this painful spectacle, losing all hope that things can really change at F4E.

In such a case, we will not stand by and let this happen.