Precariousness in the European public service

The European Civil Service, which was once, like the Public Sector in general, a bastion of secure and stable employment, has introduced a second level of employment which does not guarantee permanent employment or career prospects worthy of the name. In the European Institutions, particularly in the Commission, the rather “casual” implementation of the 2004 reform of the Staff Regulations has caused the figures for precariousness in the European public service to explode: according to the latest official statistics, officials (AD, AST, AST/SC) represent only 62.1% of the total staff of this Institution.

At the Commission, those in precarious employment therefore represent 37.9% of staff. In the other Institutions (and in the Agencies), the trend is towards an increase in the number of Contract Agents, who make up the overwhelming majority of precarious colleagues. Most of them (the “3b”) have no job security: they are “fired” after six years, a period which is far too short to ensure a minimum of stability (and pension rights), but far too long to allow easy reintegration into the labour market. Returning to the labour market with six more years, but not necessarily with an additional six years of “useful” experience, can be particularly difficult, as for many professional profiles, the experience gained in the Institutions is not too much sought after by other employers.

In addition to the precarious staff directly employed by the Institutions, there are thousands of temporary workers.

Reasons of the precariousness in the European public service

We all know the reasons for the massive influx of precarious staff into the Institutions: they do not “weigh” on the establishment plan, they cost less, and they do almost systematically the same work as their civil servant counterparts. Last but not least, they are more easily “controllable” by the hierarchy, because the non-renewal of a contract (even a permanent contract) is a much less complicated procedure than the dismissal of an official.

Some OSPs do not hesitate to give these precarious colleagues a glimpse of possibilities which are completely unrealistic and unrealistic. For example, the possibility of “establishing” everyone on a massive scale, as if budgetary constraints did not exist and especially if this could be envisaged under the “constant status”.

Union Syndicale is not going down that road: it is not by promising the moon that we are doing our colleagues a favour.

We must make concrete proposals (and feasible under the “constant Staff Regulations”) which, without calling into question the basic principle that access to the European Civil Service should be by open competition, offer real prospects of stabilising the thousands of colleagues who have too little.

How to counter the precariousness in the European public service ?

The General Assembly of Union Syndicale Brussels calls on the Institutions and Organisations to act in order to :

  • limit the use of precarious staff to the cases provided for in the Staff Regulations and in particular to recruit permanent staff for all permanent tasks ;
  • recruit precarious staff in the category (Function Group) corresponding to the functions to be performed and not to exploit them subsequently by making them perform functions higher than those for which they are paid;
  • to facilitate, by accelerating it, the career advancement of the most deserving colleagues;
  • pay particular attention to the situation of women, who are the first victims of precariousness due to the persistence of inequalities on the labour market identify concrete ways to facilitate the stabilisation of these colleagues, for example through internal competitions or by recognising the experience gained in the Institutions through their participation in EPSO competitions and selection procedures for temporary agents.

This would not discriminate against those who, from outside, aspire to become officials. It would simply be a fair recognition of the experience, skills and mastery of a form of institutional culture which can only be acquired by working within the Institutions themselves.