14th Dec 2018

New recruits bolstering pro-Europeanism, commissioner says

  • A billboard in Copenhagen welcoming the 10 new EU member states on 1 May 2004 (Photo: EUobserver)

Recruits from the EU-10 member states which joined the bloc in 2004 have provided the European Commission with a badly-needed shot in the arm of pro-Europeanism, the institution's top administration official has said.

Presenting recruitment data on the new member states on Wednesday (2 February), EU administration commissioner Maros Sefcovic also said women now outnumber men for the first time in the institution's history.

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"We were very much impressed in the commission, not only about the quantity of our new colleagues, but also the quality and about the new pro-European enthusiasm they brought to the commission," the Slovak former diplomat said.

"And you know that we need it," he added, an apparent reference to the tough challenges the EU has faced in recent years.

In the build-up to the biggest-ever enlargement in 2004, rules were agreed to allow for the preferential recruitment of staff from the new member states during a transitional period, which ended on 31st December 2010. A similar arrangement applies until the end of this year for Bulgaria and Romania

Wednesday's final report shows that between 1st May 2004 and the end of 2010, the commission recruited 4,004 officials and temporary agents from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, well above a target of 3,508.

There was at least one national from each of the 10 countries at director-general or deputy director-general level and 189 heads of unit.

Memories of the Communist regimes which dominated central and eastern Europe before the fall of the iron curtain in 1989 meant the new commission recruits were strong supporters of the EU project, said the commissioner.

"We still know how to appreciate the role of the European Union," Mr Sefcovic said.

In a debate in the European parliament last month, the prominent French philosopher Jean-Marc Ferry said many European citizens no longer understood what the purpose of the EU is.

"The main idea of the EU was peace. That has now gone with the fall of the Berlin Wall ... and the EU lacks legitimacy," he said, adding that a new role was to be found in the taming of financial markets.

The new figures also show that women make up 52.1 percent of commission civil servants, outnumbering their male colleagues for the first time since the institution's establishment in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome.

There are five times more women working as senior managers and twice as many as middle mangers than 15 years ago, said Mr Sefcovic.

By continuing to hire greater quotas of women, the commissioner aims to have 25 percent of all senior managers and 30 percent of middle managers [A9-13] as women by 2014 when the current commission comes to an end.

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