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CA MOBILITY 2023/24 - Opportunity or Threat?

Updated: Feb 13

Author: Karoly SOOS Co-author: Helen CONEFREY



Opportunity or Threat?

Mobility aims to provide more opportunities but for some it can be a worrying and stressful process

The mobility exercise is governed by the following legal instruments:

Decision managing the mobility of contract agents in Delegations (C(2020)997 final of 26/02/2020):

COMDEL decision indicating the criteria for anticipated and postponed mobility on personal grounds:

Guidelines of the specific mobility year:

The CA annual mobility exercise has been launched. CAs will be asked to engage in the application and interview process with the aim of finding the right post for them, to be taken up in September 2024!

This is clearly an amazing opportunity for CAs to use their knowledge and expertise in a new post in a new country and grow professionally yet every year there are CAs who experience great difficulties during the exercise.

Currently there is the annual structured mobility (compulsory) and the non-programmable ad hoc mobility posts (to which CAs can apply after having spent at least 3 years in the same delegation).

Trade Unions fought hard to professionalise CAs and offer institutional mobility – this finally became a reality in 2014 when the first ever exercise was launched on a voluntary basis and subsequently became obligatory. This structured mobility aims to serve the interests of the service and the individual however on occasions, the balance gets tipped in the direction of the institution and the individual CA needs and aspirations are overlooked or ignored.

It is clear that the annual CA Mobility provides many opportunities but also challenges. The interests of colleagues in mobility differ very much based on their knowledge, family, health, security and many other important factors. Some CAs request to postpone and some to extend their stay for a number of reasons and some ask to go to Brussels temporarily.

Some colleagues complain the exercise is non-transparent, that selection is subjective, that the interview process and results are unpredictable, that there is too short notice for interviews and postings. Some have their 3rd language tested during the interviews and others not. There are even reports now that some candidates are subjected to written exams, which is not foreseen in the CA mobility guidelines.

Local Delegation Staff Representatives must participate in the selection panels and can be voting members; they are there to ensure fair treatment and ensure transparency.

CAs are legitimately frustrated when they are not invited for an interview and receive no feedback from the EU DEL to which they applied. Others are indeed invited for an interview however they are not selected and still get no feedback! In last year’s CA mobility many long-serving CAs with over ten year’s experience, good appraisals, knowledge and commitment were not even offered a post in the 1st round much to their surprise – several had a nail-biting period in which they were offered posts that were not in their original selection and it took months of negotiating to find a solution.

Our recommendations:

· EU DEL should invite all candidates for an interview if the numbers are manageable; for some countries there are few applications so this is feasible and gives everyone a fair chance!

· Ensure closer follow-up of colleagues who are not matched in the 1st round – they can feel humiliated and frustrated and this is worsened by the lack of personal contact with the HQ mobility team. This often leads to offers that CAs cannot reasonably accept – offers of non-family postings which mean they must leave their spouses and children behind whereas other colleagues would happily apply for these posts!

· share a list of all available posts with all colleagues subject in the 2nd round and allow them to state their interest for up to 5/8 countries – there is no point in repeatedly offering posts to CAs in the 2nd round that do not match their expectations or are unfeasible for any number of professional/ personal reasons.

· Increase transparency by providing brief feedback to colleagues after interviews – colleagues are often puzzled as to why they were not higher on the ranking list and would appreciate feedback. They need to know the areas where they can improve and understand why a post was not offered despite them believing they had a good interview!

CAs have the threat of contract termination hanging over them during this process, which is unproductive and induces even more stress. CA mobility is meant to be an opportunity to learn more, discover new contexts and serve the EU in another place of work – it should be integrated into an overall career development path and not feared by CAs who can be faced by a very unpredictable situation.

To give more predictability to colleagues, USHU has promoted an informal table in which CAs can exchange information on their posts voluntarily and can already contact colleagues on posts that potentially interest them. Also CAs can look at post reports and get acquainted with a number of aspects ranging from housing, to schooling to security and climate.

USHU has worked on improving the Decision on CA Mobility for many years and was among those who negotiated the original Decision in 2014 and subsequent reviews.

We need your regular feedback in order to argue for further improvements to the process so we invite you to contact us and share your experiences in 2023.

The general implementing provisions on contract agents (Commission decision C(2017)6760) support the mobility of contract agents 3a between the Commission and the executive agencies. For this purpose, a page has been created on My Intracomm listing all vacancies for contract agents 3a in both the agencies and Commission services. Some of these vacancies are occasionally opened to contract agents under article 3b.

Meet your EEAS USHU team: Contact us whenever you need support!

Meet your CLPHU USHU team: Contact us whenever you need support!

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