Correspondent's Choice

The following article has been published by on on 16th October 2009.

The next European Commission should reform the EU’s “absurd” recruitment system to bring it in line with today’s flexible labour market and ensure that appointments are made on the basis of fairness, Siim Kallas, a vice-president of the EU executive, told EurActiv in an interview.

Kallas, who has held the administration, audit and anti-fraud portfolio since his appointment to the Commission in 2004, wants to open the “very rigid system” to more outsiders and “find the right jobs for the right people”.

“It’s a closed community. People come and stay here until retirement, and that’s the problem,” he said, announcing that modernising personnel policy will have to be among the priorities of the incoming EU executive.

Kallas explained that while the EU institutions employ around 30,000 people, only “a few hundred” leave the system each year to retire or take on new challenges, raising “real questions” regarding recruitment policy.

“The situation today is absurd. We take in people aged around 25-30 – people with at least some serious work experience already – and then if they have taken all the necessary steps, they are available for the highest posts when they are over 50 or even older,” he said, calling for more flexibility in the way the Commission recruits its best people.

The former Estonian prime minister revealed that he had just received a “last-century” demand from “very high-level” person, citing this as evidence that “rigid rules” are still required because the days of favouritism are “not dead”.

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