Staff reform - Timetable up to 1st May 2004
- Transposing the reforms into European law
- Reform timetable
To convey the reforms to their destination, two railway trains had to be set in motion. The first one took the fast, direct route and arrived two years ahead of the other, which had further to go and a much more arduous journey. In a nutshell, the Commission had to act on two levels:
- to introduce new implementing rules to the Staff Regulations, something, which is quick and relatively free of complications,
- make changes to the Staff Regulations themselves for the important issues of the reform, which meant sending amendments through the more difficult Community law-making process.
Although the Staff Regulations are valid for all the institutions, the implementing rules specify how the various articles are to be applied in just one of them. The Staff Regulations are like a framework law, which each institution can transpose individually in its own implementing rules.
The Commission can adopt its own implementing rules by simple decision of the College and President at one of its regular Wednesday meetings. On condition that the Commission has agreed its proposals with the staff unions beforehand, these new rules can be introduced relatively quickly and painlessly. Similar procedures can be followed in the other institutions.
Reforms covering the following were introduced through implementing rules:
- Recruitment procedures for new officials and other servants
- Training and mobility for officials and other servants
- Changes to middle management
- Professional incompetence, 'whistleblowing', disciplinary procedures
- Appraisal and promotion procedures for permanent officials
- Internal mobility
- Reform of the role of the Commission mediator
- Social welfare infrastructure
As stated above, the Staff Regulations are a framework law containing fairly precise stipulations that are binding on all institutions.
Amendments to the Staff Regulations have to follow the usual EU somewhat lengthy and complex decision-making process. In the ensuing melee, unexpected delays can occur. Past reform attempts have sometimes foundered in the thickets of these procedures.
However, many substantial parts of the reforms can only be introduced by changing the Staff Regulations. These are:
- the new careers structure
- reform of social welfare policies (non-discriminatory treatment, helping staff with disabilities, staff services, parental leave, flexible working patterns)
- rules on external mobility (e.g. secondment from the Commission to a national ministry)
- some of the middle management reforms (probationary period, revoking of appointment)
- reform of salaries and pensions
- new rules for early retirement
- reform of the non-permanent staff (e.g. introduction of contract staff)
- new rules governing the whole field of professional and ethical standards, i.e. professional inadequacy (formal procedures for assessing performance), disciplinary procedures
- in addition, the Staff Regulations themselves were simplified and adjusted to match the new requirements without causing further changes to their content.
At the end of 2001 the specific legislative proposals to amend the Staff Regulations (including the Conditions of Employment of other servants of the European Communities), as described above, were adopted as policy by the Commission. In the preceding concertation negotiations, the majority of staff representatives had agreed to the proposals (two out of the six staff unions, holding 59% of the votes in the staff committee elections).
Up until February 2001, the staff representatives were threatening to reject large parts of the drafts as they then stood. Following strike threats, it was agreed to set up a negotiating group comprising an equal number of Commission and staff union representatives and chaired by a neutral mediator (Niels Ersb°ll, former General Secretary of the Council). The group's findings, which were presented at the end of October 2001, were by the end of 2001 worked into proposals to amend the Staff Regulations.
The proposals to amend the Staff Regulations were passed for consultation to the interinstitutional Staff Regulations Committee, on which all EU institutions are represented. Based on the consultation findings at the beginning of April 2002, the Commission has drawn up a formal proposal for all requisite amendments to the Staff Regulations and present it to the Council for decision and to Parliament, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors and the other institutions for an opinion. On the basis of this proposal the Council reached a political agreement on the modernisation of the Staff Regulations in May 2003. Subsequently the Commission forwarded a revised proposal on 18th November 2003. The Council adopted this proposal on 22 March 2004 and the new Staff Regulations entered into force on 1st of May 2004.
Reform via new implementing rules: horizon 2002-2004
Since the final negotiating results with the staff unions became available at the end of October 2001, Commission staff have been working flat out on new implementing rules in the relevant areas. Most of them entered into force before the approval of the new Staff Regulations in March 2004.
Reform via amendments to the Staff Regulations: horizon 2004
In January 2002 the Commission sent its complete draft package of amendments to the Staff Regulations to the interinstitutional Staff Regulations Committee, which is now considering them. This Committee has to be consulted because the Staff Regulations apply to all institutions. It is composed of the administrations and staff representatives of all the institutions.
The Staff Regulations Committee has delivered an opinion on 9th April 2002. The Commission has taken up its role as proposer of new EU law and has sent the Council a complete package of draft amendments to the Staff Regulations in April 2002, with, at the same time, a notification to the European Parliament for an opinion.
Only after the draft proposal had been publicly transmitted in April 2002, the 'official' debate began, i.e. in the Council and Parliament. In this law-making process, the decisive elements are the 'common positions' of the Council. The views of the fifteen Member States, which differ very widely on some points, have to be brought close enough together to enable the changes to the Staff Regulations to be adopted by qualified majority, which is what was required in this case.
This law-making process ended with the Commission's proposals being approved by the Council. The legal form of the Staff Regulations of officials and the Conditions of Employment of other servants is a Council Regulation.
The Council gave its general agreement (common position) on 19th May 2003 and subsequently the Commission forwarded a revised proposal on 18th of November 2003. The new Staff Regulations were finally adopted at the General Affairs/External Relations Council of 22-23 March 2004.
The revised Staff Regulations are being implemented since 1st May 2004.
The following amendments and new provisions entered in force before 2004:
- Decision to establish an interinstitutional recruitment office
- Restructuring financial control and audits
- Guidelines for job descriptions
- Guidelines for the selection, appointment and appraisal of senior officials
- Commission decision on the reinforced Mediation Service
- "Volet social": Statement and action plan
- Rules applicable to National Experts on detachment to the Commission
- Conduct of administrative inquiries and disciplinary proceedings
- Guidelines on Mobility
For the following areas, the Staff Regulations did not need to be amended in the first phase of the staff reform:
|Further training||Implementing provisions|
|Appraisal/promotion||General implementing provisions and interinstitutional Staff Regulations
(Article 110 of the Staff Regulations)
|Equality||Relevant to implementing provisions on appraisal, middle management, mobility|
|Misconduct||General implementation, otherwise: see next section
Amendment of the Staff Regulations required
|Discipline||Establishment of a Disciplinary Board otherwise: see next section
Amendment of the Staff Regulations required
For the following areas, the Staff Regulations needed to be amended:
(equal treatment, measures for people with disabilities, services for staff, family-related leave, and flexible working arrangements
|Amendment of Staff Regulations|
|Mobility||Amendment of Staff Regulations for external mobility|
|Career structure||Amendment of Staff Regulations|
|Middle management||Consolidated proposal|
|Pay and pensions||Amendment of Staff Regulations|
|Early retirement||Amendment of Staff Regulations|
|Amendment of Staff Regulations for new contract staff
Otherwise: implementing provisions
|Professional incompetence||Amendment of Staff Regulations for formal procedure to establish performance
Otherwise: implementing provisions
|Discipline||Amendment of Staff Regulations and implementing provisions
|Modernising the Staff Regulations||Proposal to amend Staff Regulations|