The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) should reconsider how it selects new recruits for the EU civil service, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) published today. At a time of reduced staffing and advancing digitalisation, the EU institutions increasingly seek to recruit specialised staff, who can become operational quickly. However, the auditors found EPSO’s selection process is not well adapted to small-scale targeted competitions that could attract such specialists to apply for positions in the EU civil service. At the same time, they also point to a number of weaknesses in the generalist selection procedures carried out by EPSO.
EPSO selects future EU civil servants via two main types of competition: large ones for entry-level generalists such as lawyers, economists and translators, and smaller ones for more specific profiles such as IT experts and scientists. It was set up in 2003, at a time when the institutions needed to recruit a large number of people every year due to the 2004-2007 enlargements. However, since 2012, specialist profiles have made up the majority of new staff sought by EU institutions and most of EPSO’s competitions have had small reserve lists (i.e. fewer than 30 successful candidates).
“EPSO competitions are the gateway to a career in the EU civil service, but no longer meet the EU institutions’ current recruitment needs,” said Annemie Turtelboom, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “EPSO must reconsider its selection process and launch a new, faster, more flexible and cost-effective system for selecting specialists, and ramp up its capacity in order to adapt to the fast-changing recruitment environment.