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Irish staff in EU institutions could be facing a “generation gap” – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP for Dublin today (Sunday) reacted to figures he received from the European Commission which shows serious problems on the horizon for Irish staffing levels in EU institutions.

“Ireland’s staff representation in the EU institutions will be seriously diminished in future years unless targeted action is taken to get more Irish people recruited to EU jobs.

“Figures released to me by the European Commission show that only 14% of Irish staff in the European Commission are under 40 years of age. The majority of Irish staff in the European Commission will be retiring within 15 years and not enough new Irish candidates are being recruited to replace those retiring. In total there are 527 Irish staff in the European Commission, 306 of which are over 50.

“The Commission has also said that in key EU staffing grades, Ireland is ‘significantly under-represented’. In the AD 5-8 grade bracket, where most permanent EU staff are recruited, Ireland is 60% below the appropriate level (“the guiding rate”). The guiding rate is calculated on the basis of a country’s population figures. Ireland’s population is 1.6% of the total EU population. Yet in the AD 5-8 grade bracket, Irish staff only account for 0.7% of the total staff in that bracket.

“According to the EU Staff Regulations, EU officials must be recruited on the ‘broadest possible geographical basis from among nationals of Member States’. This implies that there must be a fair balance of staff members between all EU Member States.

“In the 1980s and 1990s there was a successful drive to get Irish staff into the EU institutions but that has not continued into recent decades. This is partly due to an influx of new Member States joining the EU but it is also due to inaction on the part of successive Irish governments.

“In a recent report, the European Commission said that unless targeted measures are taken to increase staffing levels in certain grades, Ireland could be faced with a ‘generation gap’.

“The Commission has just started the process of looking to reduce the imbalance for some nationalities in staffing levels.

“This issue requires urgent action from the Irish government. My contention is that the government should push the European Commission to initiate country specific recruitment competitions for nationalities that are underrepresented or face a generation gap. Country specific competitions have only been employed once before in 2004 when 10 new Member States joined the EU.

“But given that more and more staff are being recruited from Mediterranean countries and less and less staff are being recruited from Northern European countries, a direct intervention such as country specific competitions, should be utilised.”

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