Sunday

20th Jan 2019

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

  • Unions say the fast-track scheme 'opens the door wide to favouritism and nepotism' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Senior European Commission officials are hand-picking select candidates for lucrative jobs within the EU institution in a move that bypasses the normal lengthy selection procedures and exams reserved for everyone else.

The short-cutting has sparked protests among some existing commission staff and trade unions amid broader concerns that well-connected people are being given preferential treatment to land grade five administrative posts (AD5).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Such jobs, which are one of entry-rung positions, start at around €4,500 per month and the entire application process normally takes around a year.

An open competition usually attracts applications from tens of thousands of hopefuls, requires several examinations before even being granted an interview, with only a few hundred making it to the reserve list.

But a new scheme, launched as a pilot project by the European Commission known as the Junior Professionals Programme (JPP) , skips most of those steps and fast-tracks people to the head of the job application queue. The JPP application started in June, with successful candidates starting work in November.

"The JPP process opens up the possibility for those in influential positions to put forward preferred people, giving them a fast-track, easy path to an EU career," Laszlo Zlatarov, co-founder of eutraining.eu, Budapest-based firm that trains people for EU institution job competitions, told EUobserver on Monday (9 July).

From Selmayr to JPP

The Junior Professionals Programme comes amid fallout over the dubious promotion of Martin Selmayr to secretary-general of the European Commission.

Selmayr was earlier this year promoted from Jean-Claude Juncker's cabinet chief to secretary-general of the commission in what some insiders described as a coup.

The new scheme was initially dubbed 'Jump Professional' and reserved for Blue Book trainees, an EU institutional paid internship programme.

But internal backlash forced the EU commission to open up the programme to temporary staff, contract agents and some officials. However, the vast majority of the some 6,000 contract agents won't be eligible given further restrictions imposed upon them.

The JPP programme applications were placed online internally for ten days in June. Each European Commission directorate general then hand-selected at least five candidates from those that applied.

'Favouritism and nepotism'

Most are Blue Book interns given that applicants cannot have more than three years of professional experience.

The European Commission has yet to respond to this website as of publication on whether any of the Blue Book interns turned candidates have relatives working at the institution.

But Renouveau and Democratie, a trade union representing EU institutional staff, says the scheme "opens the door wide to favouritism and nepotism."

A petition launched by TAO-AFI, another trade union, had also amassed some 1,200 EU commission staff signatures against the pilot project.

The petition, seen by this website, demands EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger, in charge of human resources, reconsider the programme and instead base recruitment on equality, competence and merit.

The candidates were pre-selected on 25 June and will undergo a computer-based test at the end of July, skipping the normal exhaustive testing process at the recruitment assessment centres in Brussels or Luxembourg.

The pre-selected candidates also only have to receive a 'pass mark' on the computer before going straight for the interview, unlike everyone else.

"The pass mark is relatively easy to achieve, many people achieve the pass mark in the open exams. The difficulty in the open exams is that the pass mark alone is not enough, you also need to be among the best of all to be able to proceed," said Zlatarov.

With the interview sorted, the chosen few under the pilot scheme will then work as AD5 temporary agents for two years before then obtaining, through an "exclusive" internal competition, the more sought after permanent status.

The junior pilot programme was open for 40 people or around 20 percent of the projected AD5 hires over two years.

Focus

EU interns to rebel against unpaid work

Young people will gather in Brussels on Monday to protest against hundreds of unpaid traineeships offered by the EU institutions each year.

Investigation

EU Commission paying too much for iPhones and IT

EUobserver has obtained internal documents and emails from within the European Commission that outline questionable contracts with outside suppliers who appear to be overcharging for goods and services.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us