Lessons on EU Civil Service

European Civil Service 1. The European Civil Servi...
European Civil Service
1. The European Civil Service is the civil service serving the
institutions of the European Union. Most notably it serves the European
Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. It is the
permanent bureaucracy that implements the decisions of the Union's
Civil servants are known as "European Mandarins" (usually referring to
high ranking members) or as "Eurocrats". They are recruited directly into
the institutions after being selected by competitions which are organized
by EPSO, the official selection office.
2. The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is responsible for
selecting staff to work for the Institutions of the European Union
(European Parliament, the European Council, the European Commission, the
European Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social
Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Ombudsman). Each
Institution is then able to recruit staff from the candidates selected by
3. EPSO is the single point of contact for all EU citizens who wish to
work for the European Institutions. The concept of a common recruitment
service for the EU Institutions has its origins in the White Paper "An
Administrative Reform", a process launched in 2000 that focused on
modernizing and improving administrative efficiency within the European
Commission. Before, the Institutions managed their own selection and
recruitment processes, involving different procedures. EPSO was
established with the aim of harmonizing and rationalizing the selection
procedure, introducing greater professionalism into the selection
procedures applied.
EPSO was also created in the immediate context of the enlargement of the
Union from 15 to 25 Member States. At its establishment, the main
priority for the Office was to organize open competitions for citizens of
the new Member States, in order to identify rapidly a large number of
potential employees from these countries.
4. The selection of staff is based on a system of open competitions. They
are organized by EPSO for permanent positions as career civil servants,
and for a limited number of fixed term contracts. EPSO cannot consider any
application or CV submitted outside the framework of an official
competition or selection procedure.
The details of an open competition are set out in a Notice of Competition,
which is published in the Official Journal of the European Union and made
available on the EPSO website. The Notice includes information on the
selection criteria, the job profile and duties involved, the number of
places on the reserve list, the qualifications and experience required,
and the format of the tests at each stage of the selection process. To
reach a wider range of candidates in the Member States, additional
information about open competitions may be published in the national
press, specialized press or electronic media. EPSO also participates in
recruitment fairs for graduates in the Member States.
5. Policy makers are divided into a set of grades: from AD 5, the most
junior administrator grade, to AD 16, which is a director-general (AD =
administrator). Below the AD category is AST (assistant). It is now
possible for civil servants to be promoted from AST to AD grade. While
promotion is in theory according to merit, many top jobs are taken by
officials 'parachuted' from member states. Moreover, staff reforms
introduced in 2004 have severely reduced the possibilities for career
progression and have created divisions within the service. According to
the Commission's own internal statistics, even though new officials
possess an average of eight years work experience, it would take an
average of over 40 years to climb from AD 5 to AD 16.
Prior to this new system, civil servants were traditionally divided into
four categories. "A" was policy making (what is now AD), "B' was
implementing, "C" was secretarial and "D" was drivers and messengers (B C
and D are now all part of the AST category).
6. There are servants from all member states with the largest group being
Belgian (21.4%, no other nationality exceeds 10%), probably due to a
majority of staff being based in the country. Most administration is in
7. One of the entry qualifications for the civil service is that the
candidate speaks at least two European languages, one of which must be
English, French or German. Prior to first promotion, officials must
demonstrate competence in a third EU official language.
8. EU civil servants work 37.5 hours a week, though they are theoretically
available 24/7. They receive a minimum of 24 days of leave a year (maximum
of 30), with additional leave on grounds of age, grade and distance from
home country. The lowest grades receive between €2,325.33 and €2,630.96
each month, while the highest grade receives between €14,822.86 and
€16,094.79 a month. This salary is taxed by the EU, rather than at the
national level. Taxation varies between 8% and 45% depending on individual
Adapted from:
European Civil Service. (2009 01 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Retrieved 20:32, January 15, 2009, from
European Personnel Selection Office. (2009 01 15). In Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:20, January 15, 2009, from