Within USF, Nicolas Mavraganis is best known for having been the president since July 2019, but he is also a European official at Eurostat. He arrived at the Commission in 1989 and joined its staff in 1994. For the 50th anniversary of US, he wanted to share with us his career path in the European Public Service and highlight US’s contribution to career development. What is his view of the landscape of the European Public Service today?
Career development in the European public service
Career development in the European public service
What attracted you to the European Public Service?
Being multicultural and multilingual by virtue of my family background, I wanted to join an international organisation and in particular the European project, which matched with what I like to be and do. The big advantage of the European Public Service is that it offers the same opportunities to everyone, regardless of their academic, social and linguistic backgrounds.
Can you tell us about your journey?
I was able to try out the various kinds of employment relationship by working for the Commission, first as a consultant in service providers, then as a contract agent and finally I was able to develop my career by passing a competition.
What development opportunities does the European Public Service offer?
Within the career structure of the European Institutions, there are opportunities for development, either through promotion or through different procedures such as certification. The recruitment stages are very long: two or three years may pass between the day I become a candidate and when I am recruited, but the opportunities for development are interesting.
What makes the European Public Service attractive today?
Joining the European Public Service must always be a conscious decision and a lifestyle choice. It is important to emphasise this, because if I have career prospects, I will be able to commit to a long-term personal and professional project.
There is no glass ceiling, no blockage based on academic origin. We have a matrix career development, i.e. grade by grade within the institutions. We can start as AST and end up as Director-General. In the European Public Service, we can break free of social determinism on the basis of personal merit.
Career developments, including promotion rates, are also part of what makes the European public service attractive.
In the European civil service, social determinism can be broken down on the basis of personal merit, chance… I’m not naive, some people progress faster than others, but the opportunities are there.
Career development, including promotion rates, is also part of the attractiveness of the European civil service.
Can you tell us more about the promotion rates?
The big advantage since the 2004 reform of the Statute is that there are promotion rates. This means that staff members have a rough idea of when they will be promoted. Prior to 2004, the promotion rate varied according to the budgetary resources available each year. Today, we can hope to move forward in our careers, to get a promotion, after 3 years on average.
Is this also a negotiation that US has put in place?
Union Syndicale at the time and in particular USB and Brussels was very active in setting up these promotion rates. This was offset by lower starting salaries and lower competition grades, but promotion rates are guaranteed. Today, promotion rates form an integral part of the institutions’ Staff Regulations (Annex 1b)
How does US support the career development of officials?
US offers training to pass all stages of competitions and selection interviews to help with mobility. It also offers advice and training for all career development procedures (certification, mobility, promotion). It can also help unsuccessful candidates to formulate their appeal on the basis of their case, regardless of the level of selection, by providing access to its specialised lawyers.
These courses are also offered online for members in the form of an interview MOOC.
With regard to promotion, US also helps members to prepare their case, and defends them before their superiors and in promotion committees.
What are promotion committees?
Promotion is carried out on the basis of the file, the comparison of merits, i.e. ‘evaluations’. I can be included through the work of the Promotion Committee or not. There are two possibilities: either it is my service that put me forward for promotion, or my service does not put me forward for promotion and in this case I can make an appeal that is analysed by a Promotion Committee. This is a joint committee, meaning that half of its members come from the administration and half from the staff representation.
Is the current fiscal policy context leading to changes?
The current budget context does not respect the outlook of the general framework. There is a restriction on the recruitment of permanent staff, with the emphasis shifting towards staff with short-term contracts. More and more posts are being removed from the establishment plan. The Commission had committed to downsizing its staff, but there is still just as much, if not more, to do, so short-term staff were used to carry out the tasks of civil servants. US continues to request recruitment of officials, in particular through internal competitions.
Are there career prospects for precarious contracts?
Career development prospects for staff with precarious contracts are significantly less favourable or even non-existent compared to officials, unless they pass a competition, since these are open to all.