Monday

3rd Oct 2022

EU foreign service favours 'old' member states

Diplomats from 'new' member states who apply for jobs in Catherine Ashton's foreign service are consistently losing out to 'old' candidates and to existing EU officials.

Details on recruitment for 181 posts last year were attached in an annex to a European External Action Service (EEAS) progress report in December but not made public.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The figures - seen by EUobserver - show that in all but one of the seven categories of jobs covered, diplomats from the 12 EU countries which joined in 2004 fared worse than those from the 15 previous members or from eligible EU institutions.

The weeding-out was not so drastic on foreign delegations. But it made a big mark on jobs in the EEAS headquarters in Brussels.

Out of 134 people who applied for 10 senior management posts in Brussels, there were 34 'new' diplomats, 74 'old' ones and 26 EU officials. None of the 'new' ones got through. For 22 mid-level posts, just one of 126 'new' candidates made the grade. In a competition for 34 junior positions, six out of 303 'new' candidates made it, compared to 21 out of 404 'old' ones.

The hiring pattern comes on top of an inherited imbalance in the EEAS, which took most of its staff en bloc from the old-member-state-stuffed EU Council and European Commission.

The EEAS declined to comment. But the December report itself says it is committed "to ensuring a meaningful presence of staff from all member states."

For his part, Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski said that such upbeat statements are "reflected neither in figures nor in the facts." He noted that Poland has reached only 36 percent of its EEAS target, while some 'old' countries have over 300 percent. His unofficial target is based on relative population size, as used to assign the number of MEPs or EU Council votes for each member state.

Some Polish diplomats have in the past complained about anti-new-member-state snobbery in EU circles. But part of the problem is lack of candidates.

Diplomats from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania applied in healthy numbers. But Poland - the biggest of the newbies by far - fielded just 145 candidates out of the 8,800 or so people who threw in their hat.

The data also casts a light on the EEAS' popularity in other quarters.

Lots of diplomats from France (891 candidates), Austria, Belgium and Greece came forward. But diplomats from Spain and the UK were much less keen, while those from Germany (148) and Italy (126) barely made an appearance.

With the EEAS gaining a bad reputation for itself in Brussels in terms of day-to-day working conditions, out of the 3,400 EU officials who applied, the majority was internal EEAS reshuffling. Around 700 commission people and 400 EU Council staff came forward.

Meanwhile, Germans got a warm welcome. Despite the low number of applications (1.8% of the total), seven German diplomats got jobs (3.9%), five of them in the EEAS headquarters.

Turkey and China host biggest EU outposts

Staff numbers at foreign delegations highlight EU interest in Turkey and China, as well as member states' ongoing reliance on bilateral diplomacy.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  2. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  3. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  4. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  5. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat
  6. Poland insists on German WW2 reparations
  7. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  8. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  2. EU wants probe into alleged Nagorno-Karabakh war crimes
  3. EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning
  4. EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination
  5. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  6. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  7. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  8. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us