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Decision on incorrect information about a candidate’s status in the contract agents selection database (CAST) managed by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) (case 2090/2021/VB)

Παρασκευή | 25 Νοεμβρίου 2022

The case concerned the status of an individual on the Contract Agent Selection Tool database (CAST database), from which EU institutions, bodies, offices or agencies may recruit contract agent staff. The complainant had passed the selection tests and was included in the database, which is administered by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), but she was mistakenly indicated as ‘recruited’ for a period of more than four years.

The Ombudsman found that the complainant may have lost out on the opportunity to be recruited by EU institutions using the CAST database during that period. The Ombudsman proposed to EPSO, as a solution, that it extend the validity of the complainant’s status in the database for the same amount of time as the time during which she had been mistakenly marked as recruited. EPSO accepted the proposal.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with the conclusion that EPSO had settled the issue. To prevent such issues occurring in the future, she suggested that EPSO take action to ensure that, every time a candidate’s status in the CAST database is changed, they receive an automatic email informing them of the change.

Decision on alleged irregularities in how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) carried out a staff selection procedure for recruiting a ‘command and control support officer’ (case 882/2021/PL)

Τρίτη | 22 Νοεμβρίου 2022

The complainant took issue with how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) carried out a staff selection procedure for the recruitment of a ‘command and control support officer’. In particular, he was concerned that the selection criteria had been set to favour the recruitment ofa specific candidate. The complainant also disagreed with the use of the ‘reserve list’ of successful candidates from the selection procedure to recruit a service desk manager, arguing that this did not correspond to the expertise that the selection procedure had evaluated.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into these concerns and inspected Frontex’s internal documents. The Ombudsman found that how Frontex carried out the selection procedure ensured equal treatment of candidates. The Ombudsman also found that it was reasonable to recruit a service desk manager from the reserve list in question. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Απόφαση σχετικά με τον τρόπο με τον οποίο η Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή διαχειρίζεται τη μεταπήδηση στον ιδιωτικό τομέα των μελών του προσωπικού της (OI/1/2021/KR)

Πέμπτη | 17 Νοεμβρίου 2022

Δεδομένου ότι στην ΕΕ ανατίθενται όλο και περισσότερες εξουσίες σε τομείς από την άμυνα έως την υγειονομική περίθαλψη, η εμπιστοσύνη του κοινού στη διοίκηση είναι ζωτικής σημασίας. Επομένως, κάθε τυχόν αντίληψη ότι οι δημόσιοι υπάλληλοι επιδιώκουν ιδιωτικά συμφέροντα που έρχονται σε σύγκρουση με το δημόσιο έργο τους είναι εξαιρετικά επιζήμια. Η Ευρωπαία Διαμεσολαβήτρια έχει αναγνωρίσει εδώ και καιρό το φαινόμενο της μεταπήδησης προς ή από τον δημόσιο στον ιδιωτικό τομέα ως ένα φαινόμενο που μπορεί να βλάψει την εμπιστοσύνη του κοινού, εάν η διαχείρισή του δεν είναι η κατάλληλη. Ακόμη και ένας μικρός αριθμός κινήσεων υψηλής προβολής μπορεί να προκαλέσει σημαντική ανησυχία στο κοινό και να προκαλέσει βλάβη για τη φήμη και την υπόληψη της ΕΕ. Στο πλαίσιο αυτής της στρατηγικής έρευνας εξετάστηκαν 100 υποθέσεις «μεταπήδησης στον ιδιωτικό τομέα» της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής, με σκοπό τον εντοπισμό τομέων που επιδέχονται βελτίωση, καθώς και την καθοδήγηση της υπόλοιπης διοίκησης της ΕΕ για το μέλλον.

Η Ευρωπαία Διαμεσολαβήτρια διαπίστωσε πραγματικές βελτιώσεις σε σχέση με την τελευταία φορά που είχε εξετάσει το ζήτημα, μεταξύ άλλων την καθοδήγηση σχετικά με τον τρόπο διενέργειας αυστηρότερων εξετάσεων για κάθε τέτοια μεταπήδηση.

Ωστόσο, σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις, η Επιτροπή ενέκρινε αιτήματα πρώην ανώτερων υπαλλήλων για την ανάληψη δραστηριοτήτων, παρά τις επιφυλάξεις ως προς το κατά πόσον οι όροι που επιβάλλονται στις μεταπηδήσεις θα μετριάσουν τους δυνητικούς κινδύνους (όπως συγκρούσεις συμφερόντων και πρόσβαση σε γνώσεις ή επαφές εντός της διοίκησης). Η Ευρωπαία Διαμεσολαβήτρια πιστεύει ότι τέτοιες μεταπηδήσεις θα πρέπει να εγκρίνονται μόνον όταν η δραστηριότητα μπορεί να υπόκειται σε περιορισμούς που μετριάζουν επαρκώς τους κινδύνους και μπορούν να παρακολουθούνται και να επιβάλλονται αξιόπιστα.

Όταν οι εν λόγω περιορισμοί και η επιβολή τους δεν είναι εφικτοί, η Επιτροπή θα πρέπει να απαγορεύει προσωρινά σε πρώην μέλη του προσωπικού της να αναλάβουν τις εν λόγω θέσεις εργασίας. Διαφορετικά, υπάρχει κίνδυνος να υποτιμηθούν οι διαβρωτικές επιπτώσεις που ενδεχομένως θα έχει με την πάροδο του χρόνου η διάχυση των γνώσεων και των δικτύων των εν λόγω υπαλλήλων σε συναφείς τομείς του ιδιωτικού τομέα, καθώς και η σχετική βλάβη για τη φήμη και την υπόληψη της ΕΕ.

Κατά την έγκριση μιας δραστηριότητας με μέτρα μετριασμού, η Επιτροπή θα πρέπει να διερευνά το πλήρες φάσμα των διαθέσιμων μέτρων. Για παράδειγμα, η Επιτροπή θα μπορούσε να εγκρίνει μια νέα θέση εργασίας υπό την προϋπόθεση ότι ο ενδιαφερόμενος υπάλληλος θα λάβει τη δέσμευση από τον νέο εργοδότη ότι οι περιορισμοί που επιβάλλει η Επιτροπή θα δημοσιοποιηθούν στον ιστότοπο του νέου εργοδότη. Κατ’ ελάχιστον, η Επιτροπή θα πρέπει να απαιτεί από τον (πρώην) υπάλληλο να υποβάλει αποδεικτικά στοιχεία σχετικά με κοινοποίηση των επιβαλλόμενων περιορισμών στον νέο εργοδότη.

Οι δυσκολίες που αντιμετώπισε η Επιτροπή κατά την παρακολούθηση της συμμόρφωσης οδήγησαν την Ευρωπαία Διαμεσολαβήτρια να επαναλάβει τη σύστασή της να δημοσιοποιεί πιο έγκαιρα η Επιτροπή πληροφορίες σχετικά με όλες τις κατόπιν υπηρεσίας δραστηριότητες των πρώην ανώτερων υπαλλήλων που αξιολογεί. Με τον τρόπο αυτό θα βελτιωθεί ο δημόσιος έλεγχος των αποφάσεων αυτών, ο οποίος είναι απαραίτητος για σκοπούς παρακολούθησης.

Decision on how the European Commission dealt with a request to extend the deadline for a retired staff member to request the ‘resettlement allowance’ (complaint 1428/2021/FA)

Δευτέρα | 07 Νοεμβρίου 2022

The case concerns the European Commission‘s refusal to extend the time limit for a retired staff member to request the resettlement allowance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The complainant argued that due to the outbreak of the pandemic, she was not able to organise her resettlement to her place of origin within the prescribed time limit and asked the Commission to grant her an extension. 

The Ombudsman found that the decision of the Commission is in line with the Staff Regulations and EU case-law. The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision on how the European Central Bank (ECB) deals with ‘revolving door’ cases (OI/1/2022/KR)

Παρασκευή | 28 Οκτωβρίου 2022

The European Ombudsman has long identified ‘revolving doors’, whereby public officials move to the private sector, as a phenomenon that can potentially damage public trust if not managed properly.

This own-initiative inquiry sought to look at how the European Central Bank (ECB) deals with revolving door moves of its staff members.

Given the ECB's role in ensuring price stability and supervising financial and credit institutions, any moves by (former) ECB staff members to private financial or credit institutions, in particular those that fall under the ECB’s supervision, can pose conflict of interest and reputational risks, and cause public disquiet.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry assessed one specific case, which had raised public concerns, and also reviewed 26 cases of requests by staff members to take up occupational activities, either while on unpaid leave or after finishing work with the ECB. In all but one of the files reviewed ECB staff members moved to the private sector, including entities and banks that are under ECB supervision.

The Ombudsman concluded that the ECB should apply a more robust approach in relation to revolving door moves of its (former) middle ranking and senior staff to private sector jobs, in particular in the financial industry.

To address shortcomings that arose in the individual case and more generally in how the ECB tackles this challenge, the Ombudsman set out a series of suggestions on how the ECB can strengthen its rules, including in the context of the ongoing revision of the ECB’s Ethics Framework.

Specifically, the ECB should widen the scope of those staff who are subject to stricter notification and/or cooling-off requirements or opt for a general minimum requirement for all staff akin to the provisions of the EU Staff Regulations related to post-service occupational activities.

The ECB should also lengthen, from six months to one year, the prohibition on former senior ECB staff members lobbying their former colleagues.

The ECB should further improve its monitoring of the compliance of (former) staff members with their ethics obligations and conditions imposed by the ECB, for example by making public the conditions for authorising the post-employment activities of former senior staff members so that alleged breaches can be flagged.

The Ombudsman furthermore suggested that, where the ECB considers that a request from a staff member to take up an occupational activity while on unpaid leave poses risks that cannot be adequately mitigated by restrictions or when restrictions cannot be effectively monitored or enforced, it should not authorise such a request.

 

Decision on how the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) addressed concerns about language discrimination in a selection procedure for EU staff in the field of international cooperation (case 761/2021/PL)

Πέμπτη | 20 Οκτωβρίου 2022

The case concerned the language requirements set by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) in a selection procedure for recruiting EU staff in the field of international cooperation. The complainant considered that these requirements discriminated against candidates whose first language is English, French, Portuguese or Spanish.

The Ombudsman found the explanations given by EPSO reasonable as to why it had chosen the language requirements, in particular, its explicit intention to prevent discrimination on the basis of language knowledge. She therefore found no maladministration in how the language requirements were set.

However, the Ombudsman understood how the complainant perceived that the language requirements placed at a disadvantage candidates with specific knowledge of a certain set of the required languages. To avoid such a perception in future selection procedures with similar specific language requirements, she therefore made a suggestion to EPSO on how it presents in the competition notice the language requirements and the rationale for choosing such requirements. 

Decision on how an EU civilian mission dealt with the appeal of a seconded staff member’s performance evaluation (case 95/2022/NH)

Δευτέρα | 10 Οκτωβρίου 2022

The case concerned a negative performance evaluation that an EU civilian mission gave to a seconded staff member. The staff member complained that the evaluation had been unfair because her line managers had not warned her that her performance at work had been poor. She also said that the evaluation report failed to take into account the fact that she had been absent for a long period of time. She claimed that the mission did not handle her appeal against the evaluation fairly.

Based on the inquiry the Ombudsman found nothing to suggest that the evaluation was unfair. She also found that the mission handled the complainant’s appeal in line with the applicable procedures. She therefore closed the inquiry with the conclusion that there was no maladministration.

Decision on the refusal by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to invite a candidate preselected in a selection procedure for a contract agent post to sit the Contract Agent Selection Tool (CAST) tests (case 1963/2021/FA)

Παρασκευή | 07 Οκτωβρίου 2022

The case concerned a selection procedure that was organised by the European External Action Service (EEAS) for a contract agent post. The EEAS shortlisted the candidate for the next stage of the procedure but then said that it would not invite her to an interview because she had not yet sat the Contract Agents Selection Tool (CAST) tests, which candidates must pass in order to take up a contract agent post with an EU institution. The EEAS explained that this decision was due to the urgent need to fill the post.

The Ombudsman found that the EEAS’s decision amounted to maladministration as it was in breach of the vacancy notice. As the selection procedure at issue had been finalised and the complainant had passed the CAST tests in the context of another selection procedure, the Ombudsman closed the case without making a recommendation.

The Ombudsman suggested that, in future selection procedures, the EEAS considers its needs when deciding on the eligibility criteria for a post to be filled. In case of a change of needs following the publication of the vacancy notice, the EEAS should withdraw the vacancy notice and publish an amended version in its place.