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Recruiting and Selecting Staff in the European Institutions: Moving the Sacred Cow Out of the Road

Carolyn Ban

All the components of the European Commission now use a common method of recruitment, which is managed by a central organization, the European Personnel Selection Office. While other aspects of the Commission's staffing system underwent significant change as a result of the Kinnock reforms, the complex, slow, and expensive process of the "competition" has remained largely the same, including a five-step process that often takes a year or more. This paper will focus primarily on the Commission, as it is the largest organization utilizing EPSO's services. I critique the competition process on three dimensions: 1) Efficiency: Are the results worth the very high cost and time involved? 2) Validity: Are the people who succeed in fact the best possible staff members for the Commission? To what extent are there problems of "false positives" and "false negatives"? 3) Culture and political environment: To what extent does the competition reflect the deeper cultural values of the Commission or the political balance of power among the European Institutions? If so, are the cultural or political obstacles to considering change?

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