Unity and Solidarity Outside the EU
USHU NEWSFLASH 11/2021
EU DEL candidates particularly women candidates, are being repeatedly excluded from EPSO Competitions due to procedural barriers
GENDER-SENSITIVE PLANNING and FAIRNESS must be factored into ALL EPSO Competitions
By Luca Palazzotto and Helen Conefrey
The EPSO/AD/380/19 - AD7/AD9 competition “Administrators in international cooperation and managing aid to non-EU countries” has been subject to endless delays and technical problems leading to mounting frustrations among candidates who are enduring the on-going process not to mention the low morale of many candidates based in EU DEL who were simply unable to sit the initial CBT tests.
This highly anticipated competition in the field of international cooperation was aimed at attracting qualified candidates including Contract Agents (CAs) and Officials serving in EU Delegations, yet perversely and due to the way in which it was organised, the procedure became an insurmountable barrier to their participation. This is the first paradox of an EPSO competition that began over two years ago, and has not yet concluded.
Take the case of a single parent mother of a 2-year-old girl based in an EU Delegation in Africa and with over 20 years of experience in the field. She took the time to complete the long and extensive EPSO application and Talent Screener yet she was effectively denied her right to participate in this competition like many others. For a single parent mother in a 3rd country it was impossible for her to organize a trip to Europe with her daughter to sit CBT tests at very short notice. The deadline for applications was mid-December 2019 and very unexpectedly, EPSO announced CBT in February 2020.
The saga began back in January 2020 when at incredibly short notice and only a few weeks after the application deadline of mid-December 2019 and without any indicative planned having been provided to candidates, EPSO announced that Computer Based Tests ( CBT ) would take place in February 2020,barely a few weeks later. USHU and other staff representatives raised the alarm bells and immediately contacted DG HR and INTPA as staff in EU DEL began to contact us to complain about how it was impossible for them to participate. They were among the eligible candidates based in developing countries where absences had to be planned well in advance to ensure business continuity. Furthermore, the CBT test centres were as usually primarily located in the EU – most countries where staff work outside the EU do not have EPSO-approved test centres so travel is necessary to undertake an EPSO test. USHU requested INTPA and HR Managers to negotiate an
extended testing period with EPSO to allow more staff based in EU Delegations to participate in the AD Competition.
Candidates in EU DEL who are parents with children, and women in particular, were the most harmed by this totally unrealistic and unacceptable EPSO timetable which effectively reduced the number of candidates even before the CBT tests began.
The request for an extension to the testing period was rejected and hundreds of candidates based in EU DEL and loyally serving the EU were knowingly excluded. Whoever at HQ agreed upon the AD Specialist Competition timetable obviously had little/no understanding whatsoever of what it means to be a candidate in an EU Delegation, in a developing country. It is nonsense to claim that the EPSO timetable would ever have been acceptable to hundreds of staff based in EU DEL for whom this rare competition represented a chance of career development.
The COVID-19 pandemic did the rest and made an already blighted competition even more problematic: after the rushed CBT in February 2020 that excluded many, the competition was put on hold for months. Despite CBT results in March, candidates had a nail-biting wait until November 2020 to receive Talent Screener scores. Only in May 2021, did they receive the invitation to the Assessment Centre. This phase is ongoing and has been best by an number of technical problems. The software adopted for the remote Assessment Centre was far from ready to be deployed for an official competition at this level. The solution to this problem is maybe even worse than the problem itself as all candidates were given the option to take the test again, whether they experienced technical problems or not. In practice, those who were unhappy with their original performance, now have another shot to try their luck.
USHU REQUESTS EPSO TO ENSURE FAIRNESS IN THE OUTCOME OF THIS COMPETITION
EPSO now indicates it is undergoing a thorough transformation process for staff selection and aims to use more and more remote testing modalities in the future. We would like to believe this will be positive for candidates in EU DEL however has EPSO taken into consideration the needs of candidates outside the EU in EU DEL where there are often unreliable and precarious internet connections? Will EPSO ensure that any new testing modality will be friendly towards women and care givers and take the needs of EU DEL candidates into account?
USHU REQUESTS EPSO TO ENFORCE COMMISSION INCLUSIVITY POLICIES AND ENSURE GENDER-BASED PLANNING IN ALL EU COMPETITIONS
USHU ADVOCATES FOR EQUAL CHANCES FOR EU DEL STAFF WHO ARE CANDIDATES IN EPSO COMPETITIONS ( WOMEN and MEN) AND WORKING OUTSIDE THE EU
USHU REQUESTS EPSO TO equip Delegations to ensure that candidates can take EPSO tests from any EU DEL in the World