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The administration of the European Commission

It is a constant challenge to make a big international organisation like the Commission work. The Commission has 40 different services and its organisation is comparable to that of national governments and central administrations.

Commission services and staff are in different locations all over Europe, mainly in Brussels (65%) and Luxembourg (12%), but also in other places in Europe (11%), e.g. in Ispra/Italy, Karlsruhe/Germany, Grange/Ireland or the Commission representation offices in the capital of each Member State, and in the over 130 EU delegations (embassies) around the world (12%).

Besides this great diversity of places of employment, another particularity is the obligation to be able to work in 24 different official languages. All organisations and citizens are entitled to ask questions to the Commission and receive a reply in their own language. Legislation and decisions must be accessible in all languages.

In total, the Commission has around 30,000 staff members of 28 different nationalities, 55% of them women, 45% men. There is sometimes criticism of the size of the Commission, but the numbers are actually entirely proportionate, taking into account the above mentioned constraints.

A comparison with the administrations of big cities shows that these are often bigger or of equal size (e.g. the city of Stockholm employs 40,000 people in 2013 according to their website). When compared to national ministries of big Member States, Commission services are often significantly smaller, despite the fact that they have to work on behalf of not one country but 28 and on a far greater scale (e.g. DG MOVE has 500 staff compared to the UK Department for Transport which employs 1600 persons, figures from 2013). 

This does not prevent the Commission from striving for further efficiency gains. In fact, the Commission has managed to deal with an increased number of tasks in a zero-growth environment (e.g. -0.5% in posts between 2011 and 2013) for a number of years already. In addition, it will implement as of 2013 a 5% staff cut. This takes place again in a context of an increasing number of tasks which Member States and Parliament entrust to the Commission. 

It is a continued challenge to ensure that the internal organisation and procedures of the Commission are the right ones to maintain a high quality of work and guarantee consistency. 

The internal administration of the Commission is responsible for managing the Commission staff and in some areas also staff of other institutions, selecting and recruiting the right people for the right job, maintaining a geographical balance among the different nationalities, striving for the most efficient use of human resources, managing careers, rights and obligations, providing training and enforcing the rules where necessary.

Its role is also to provide modern and efficient IT-systems and adjust them to new business needs, as well as providing infrastructure and logistics for services, from office space or internal mail delivery to the management of outsourced services like canteens, childcare facilities or cleaning. Last but not least it must guarantee the safety and security of staff, buildings IT systems and sensitive information. 

Policies, procedures and rules need to be continuously adjusted to reflect new political demands, requests from management and expectations from staff in a context of strong budgetary constraint.

Useful links:

Pressreleases pdf - 14 KB [14 KB]    |   Speeches pdf - 12 KB [12 KB]     |    News pdf - 11 KB [11 KB]


Last update: 22/10/2014 |  Top