CIVIL SERVICE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Ø 1) Read the text and draw the structure of the European civil service.
The European Civil Service is the civil service working in 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 European Union’s government. These civil servants are known as “European Mandarins” (usually referring to high ranking members) or as “Eurocrats.”
Civil servants serve in the European Commission which is headed by a Secretary General. The Commission is divided into departments, known as Directorates-General (DGs), and various other services. Each DG is headed by a director-general. DGs cover a specific policy area or service such as External Relations or Taxation. They prepare proposals for their Commissioners which can then be put forward for voting in the college of Commissioners.
The Directorates-General are divided into four groups: Policy DGs (e.g. Environment), External relations DGs (e.g. Humanitarian Aid), General Service DGs (e.g. Eurostat) and Internal Service DGs (e.g. Translation).
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). According to the Commission’s own internal statistics, it would take a person with eight years of experience over 40 years to climb from AD 5 to AD 16.
Below the AD category is AST (assistant) which includes secretarial employees, drivers, messengers, and others. It is possible for civil servants to be promoted from AST to AD grade.
The Commission employs officials and external staff - contractual agents, detached national experts, young experts, etc. There are servants from all member states with the largest group being Belgian (21.4%, no other nationality exceeds 10%).
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 circumstances. This is paid into the Community budget.
Earnings are augmented by allowances, such as allowances for those living outside their own country, those who are the principal earner in their household, those who have children and are educating them, and those who are moving home.
There are other benefits, such as the pension scheme. Employees contribute about 8.25% of their basic salary, and the maximum retirement pension is 70% of their final basic salary for 35 years’ service. For a contribution of 2% basic salary, employees are provided with health insurance which covers a maximum of 85% of expenses (100% for serious injury).
Civil servants are recruited by competitions set by the official selection office. 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.
Ø 2) Answer the questions on the text:
a) What are “European Mandarins” or “Eurocrats”?
b) What do “European Mandarins” do?
c) What are the requirements for entering the European civil service?
d) Can European civil servants get promotion?
e) The career in the European Civil Service is profitable, isn’t it?
f) Which nationality is overrepresented in the European Civil Service?
g) What are the working conditions for European civil servants?
Ø 3) Note down useful words and phrases to talk about the profession of a civil servant in general.
CIVIL SERVICE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN
AND NORTHERN IRELAND
Ø 1) Answer the questions on the text:
a) Is British civil service political?
b) What are the requirements for entering the civil service?
c) Can British civil servants be removed from their posts?
d) What is promotion in British civil service based on?
e) What is the hierarchy of British civil service?
f) Which skills are essential for British civil servants?
g)How are successful British civil servants rewarded?
When we speak of “the Government” we tend to think of the ministers, who are politicians. But each department has a large staff of professional civil servants who do most of the work of running the department on the minister’s behalf.
The Civil Service in the UK is wholly non-political. Those of its members who are in any way concerned with administration are forbidden to be candidates for Parliament or to give public support to any political party, though they may vote at elections. When a new government comes into office, the same civil servants must work for the new ministers, who a few weeks before led the attack on the old ministers’ policies.
In the three weeks before a general election, when ministers, as leading party politicians, are away campaigning for their party, the civil servants continue to administer their departments. But they also have to prepare themselves for the possibility of a change of government, so they study the election manifesto of the opposition party, so as to be prepared to advise new ministers on the implementation of their programme if the election results in a change of government.
The Civil Service is a life’s career. Most of those who advise ministers have joined the service after taking bachelors’ degrees at universities, at the age of about twenty-two, though some have joined at an earlier age without going to university, and made their way up by promotion. Entry to the Service is controlled by the Civil Service Commission. People who hope to become civil servants must pass through a long selection process, with a series of tests designed to measure their competence and suitability, and many of those who are chosen have been among the most successful students in their university examinations. They are trained at the Civil Service College which provides courses both for newly-appointed officials and for those at later stages of their careers.
A civil servant in an established post has almost complete security of tenure, and can in practice only be removed for improper conduct. Promotion is not automatic according to seniority, but selective, and based on the recommendation of superior officers. A civil servant does not necessarily remain in the same department all through a long career. In fact when a department has a vacancy in one of its top posts it is very likely that it will be filled by someone from another department. The chief official of a department is the Permanent Secretary, and below him are under-secretaries, assistant secretaries and others in a hierarchy. The Permanent Secretary is in close touch with the minister, and has the task of issuing directives which will put the minister’s policies into force. Each civil servant must know exactly how far his personal responsibility extends, and what questions he ought to refer to someone higher up.
Many people say that Britain is really managed by the Civil Service, and that the ministers, being mere amateurs, just do what the civil servants tell them to do - or find themselves frustrated whenever they try to implement any new ideas. One of the main professional duties of civil servants is to shield their ministers from criticism in the House of Commons. Any innovation is likely to upset some established interest, which can be relied upon to feed some Member of Parliament with material to attack it.
Genuine loyalty to the minister in office is the first element in the professionalism of any civil servant, skill in defending departmental positions is the second; and an ability to reconcile the two, even when they conflict, demands intelligence, hard work and flexibility. A successful civil servant is rewarded by high pay, state honours and a right to an inflation-proof pension at sixty.
Ø 2) Write a summary of the text in your own words.
Ø 3) Read text 5.22 “The Mandarins of Whitehall” and say what else you have learnt about British civil service.