In the previous part we have seen how the European Parliament lacks transparency regarding its staff and how it doesn’t wish to reveal who it employs. Now we shall see how the European Commission has in the past made some dubious decisions regarding its staffing policy. As was already described in Part 1, nearly every Maltese-speaking person could join the Commission as a translator in 2004, because there was a shortage of staff. The situation changed in 2017, when suddenly more translators were placed on the reserve list than were actually needed.
Reserve lists are a highly debated issue. Being successful in an EPSO competition doesn’t guarantee a legal right to employment. Some people spend years on a reserve list and are never recruited. Legally, a European institution may recruit anyone it likes and isn’t obliged to revert to successful candidates on a reserve list. One of the many blogs criticising EPSO can be found here https://www.facebook.com/EU.careers#!/EU.careers/info.
It is true that thousands of laureates are found on reserve lists. But the position of a Maltese translator is very specific in nature, and therefore DGT can only recruit from a limited amount of reserve lists. After the conclusion of the last concours prior to the one of 2017 (which was in 2014), the Commission still recruited many new translators and administrators who hadn’t been successful in that competition. But what would happen to these so-called temporary translators who weren’t successful in the 2017 competition?
First, we started by asking the Commission how many Maltese translators within the Maltese (MT) department were on a temporary contract. In January 2018 9 translators were temporary. We then went on to ask the director of the directorate about the recruitment policy the directorate would adopt and whether contracts of unsuccessful candidates would be extended given that the reserve list wasn’t yet exhausted.
However, the director (Klaus Meyer-Koeken) felt that it’s no one’s business how the Commission recruits its staff and replied “DGT does not disclose to third parties any information on the decisions regarding the staffing of its Language Departments and other services (officials and contractual staff) or on individual staff members.” (please note that at this stage no questions were raised regarding individual staff members.)
After replying several times and after a number of reminders, a certain Marika Papasideri (who seems to be the enforcer of DGT) replied with a long but rather content-less email. She argued, inter alia, that all translators do a good job and, surprise surprise, that certain information cannot be shared due to data protection rules. Not one single name was mentioned at this stage, so the latter argument can only be comprehended if you’re as high as a kite. Several replies and reminders were sent, but, as in the case of the European Parliament, peasants don’t deserve a reply. Unhappy with this approach, a complaint was submitted to the European Ombudsman.
Peasants certainly is a harsh word but failing to get an answer to legitimate yet uncomfortable questions is frustrating. While the letter of the Commission was much more satisfactory than that of the EP, it still left a lot of questions.
Moreover, due to the fact that the Commission publishes its staff lists, it could be established that 3 temporary translators who hadn’t been successful in the concours had left the Commission. That would result in 6 temporary agents working within the MT department as translators. Yet the letter sent indicated that the department now only employed 2 temporary translators. As those numbers wouldn’t add up, questions were once again sent to the Commission regarding these numbers.