Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Seventh Report





COM(02) 126

(a) Draft Decision of the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the Ombudsman establishing a European Communities Recruitment Office.

(b) Draft Decision between the same bodies on the organisation and operation of the European Communities Recruitment Office.

(c) Draft Agreement between the same bodies setting out the common principles for a shared selection and recruitment policy and the principles for managing reserve lists.

Legal base:

(a) Article 2(3) of Council Regulation (EEC, Euratom, ECSC) No 259/68;

(b) Article 2(3) of Council Regulation (EEC, Euratom, ECSC) No 259/68 and Article 5 of the Decision at (a) above;

(c) The Decisions at (a) and (b)


Document originated:

6 March 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

3 April 2002


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Basis of consideration:

EM of 18 April 2002

Previous Committee Report:


To be discussed in Council:

No date set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Not cleared: further information requested




  3.1  At the time of the last two enlargements of the EU, inter-institutional co-operation was useful in organising competitions for linguists, auditors, secretaries and other staff. However, the Commission says that such co-operation is limited by disparities in recruitment procedures. In February 2001, an inter-institutional working group was formed to discuss establishing an inter-institutional European Communities Recruitment Office (ERO) and to draft proposals.

  3.2  The two draft proposals for inter-institutional Decisions (documents (a) and (b)) are the result of work carried out by this group. They were adopted by the Commission on 30 October 2001 and then submitted to the Staff Regulations Committee for consultation on 7 December 2001.

(a)Draft decision establishing a European Communities Recruitment Office

  3.3  This proposal formalises the agreement of all the institutions to entrust the ERO with the means of selecting officials for the European Communities. It makes provision for establishment of:

—  powers of selection, with additional flexibility for institutions to hold their own open competition in exceptional circumstances;

—  duties such as the drawing up of aptitude lists from among candidates in open competitions;

—  requests, complaints and appeals; and

—  implementation.

(b)Draft decision on the organisation and operation of the European Communities Recruitment Office

  3.4  With respect to the need to ensure geographical balance and equal opportunities in recruitment, this Decision sets out the broad tasks of the ERO:

—  to organise open competitions with a view to securing the services of officials for the institutions of the EC on optimum professional and financial terms; and

—  to draw up reserve lists enabling the institutions to recruit staff to meet their needs.

  3.5  Specifically, these tasks include co-operation with the institutions to assess future staffing needs; development of selection methods on the basis of best practice; and submission of an annual report to the institutions on its activities. In turn, the institutions must provide a sufficient number of selection board members, examiners, and invigilators to allow the ERO to complete its tasks.

  3.6  The Decision also states that the ERO may organise selection procedures on behalf of any body, office or agency in receipt of a fee. Where requested, the ERO may provide technical support for internal competitions organised by individual institutions.

  3.7  The Management Board of the ERO will consist of one member from each institution and three staff representatives with observer status.

  3.8  The Commission shall appoint the Head of the ERO after the Management Board has approved the candidate. The Head of the Office shall be the Appointing Authority for its staff.

  3.9  The Decision makes provision for a review process after a period of three years following the establishment of the Office

    (c)Draft agreement setting out the common principles for a shared selection and recruitment policy and the principles for managing reserve lists

  3.10  This agreement sets out the common principles for a shared selection and recruitment system; preparation of competitions; selection policy and procedures; principles governing the use of reserve lists; harmonisation of classification criteria; and a review.

Preparation of competitions:

  3.11  The agreement provides that the ERO shall:

—  implement a programme of open competitions on the basis of needs, for timely recruitment of generalist and specialist staff; and

—  publish all competitions as inter-institutional.

  3.12  The institutions shall:

—  notify the ERO of their recruitment needs for the next three years, in order to allow it to draw up a three year plan to be updated every six months;

—  improve their forward planning and provide staff for selection boards.

Selection policy and procedures:

  3.13  Transparency for candidates: a mailing list will be set up to inform potential applicants about the opportunities available. They shall be informed of the assessment criteria and rights of appeal, and be allowed to keep test papers, to request a copy of the answers from the Office, and have access to their test papers and the assessment of the selection board.

  3.14  Language skills: applicants must know one official language other than their native tongue, but they shall be informed that some positions and some institutions may demand specific language qualifications during recruitment. Language skills shall be assessed at the time of the preliminary session or written tests and at the time of the oral tests.

  3.15  Language of competitions: the Management Board shall decide whether or not the Office needs to organise specific competitions by language.

  3.16  Professional standards in selection procedures: paying constant attention to best practice and developments in recruitment techniques, the Agreement makes a number of provisions for the Content of competitions:

—  Preliminary test: an assessment of the applicants' proficiency in their second official language and numerical and reasoning abilities;

—  Written test: an assessment of the applicants' knowledge in the field covered by the competition and European Union affairs, and their ability to understand a wide range of data, producing clear, well-reasoned analysis;

—  Interview: an assessment of the applicants' suitability for working in a multilingual and multicultural organisation, adaptability and professional experience; and their understanding of European issues.

  3.17  Selection boards: these shall include outside recruitment experts, and membership shall be made conditional on successful completion of a dedicated training programme.

  3.18  Equal treatment: the mix of selection techniques shall continue to ensure that staff are recruited on a broad geographical basis with targeting of under-represented groups and categories;

—  a detailed consideration of the need to ensure an equitable gender balance on selection boards, and no particular bias in preliminary tests;

—  decisions relating to age limits to be taken by the Management Board.

Principles governing the use of reserve lists:

  3.19  The Agreement contains a detailed summary of the application of reserve lists, to be made available to the institutions on-line. The ERO is to function as a clearing house between applicants and the institutions, providing access to a consolidated database of potential employees for the institutions, and monitoring the progress of individual recruitment for applicants. Reserve lists will classify applicants by 'merit class', intended to ensure promotion on the basis of ability.

  3.20  Reserve lists will respect the staffing needs of each institution, based on 'quotas' made clear by representatives from the institutions in preparatory meetings. The Office will then endeavour to fill these quotas, before allowing institutions to increase their recruitment needs. In effect, this process is intended to prevent one institution from exhausting the list of potential employees.

  3.21  The Agreement proposes the introduction of 'best recruitment practice', providing a formal procedure for recognition of an institution's intention to employ an individual, and an applicant's acceptance of this offer. The drawing up of a 'letter of intent' between these two parties is intended to provide confirmation of employment, and 'reserve' an applicant for a particular job.

Harmonisation of classification criteria

  3.22  The Secretaries-General of the institutions should harmonise the criteria used to classify the grades of newly recruited staff, to ensure that all new recruits are treated on an equal basis, thereby avoiding competition between institutions on this basis.

Review of this agreement

  3.23  A review of this Agreement will be conducted three years after the creation of the Recruitment Office.


  3.24  As the Commission points out, uniform arrangements for recruiting and selecting personnel will bring a number of benefits. Apart from economies of scale, of particular importance in the context of enlargement, they will introduce greater professionalism. We welcome this move towards a more transparent process, which will also make efficient and economic use of resources.

  3.25  The Secretary-General of the European Parliament, Mr Julian Priestley, commented at a meeting in London on 22 April on the difficulties he expected in recruiting sufficient interpreters and translators to cope with the needs of the EP after enlargement. We ask the Government whether the institutions have given thought to preparing in advance for their need for qualified linguists after enlargement, perhaps by embarking on a programme of training new or existing personnel in the languages of those applicant states which are expected to join the Union in 2004.

  3.26  We shall hold this document under scrutiny until the Minister replies.


previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 13 May 2002