On 26 January 2021, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Anna Fotyga of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“I have asked several times about the geographical imbalances in staffing in the EU institutions, in particular in managerial positions. A recently published report on geographical representation in EU leadership points to an extreme geographical imbalance in top positions in the EU institutions, especially the lack of representation of Central and Eastern European countries. The study warns that the current composition of the EU’s top jobs ‘reflects the duopoly of western and southern Europe over EU institutions, for which they have received a combined 90 % of appointments and 95 % of mandate durations since 2004’. While the lack of internal experience might explain the low level of representation in the first years after these countries’ 2004 accession, Central and Eastern European Member States have fared worse than countries in other regions following their accession. For years, all the data, and also the answers to my written questions, have indicated that this problem is being downplayed by the European institutions.
1. Does the Commission acknowledge the lack of proper geographical representation in the EU’s leadership and managerial positions within the Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS)?
2. Is the Commission undertaking any action to improve the selection process and criteria to make them more inclusive, and facilitating the integration of new recruits, taking into account the need to ensure better geographical balance?”
On 5 May 2021, Budget and Administration Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“1. The Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President, in relation to the European External Action Service (EEAS), are acutely aware of the crucial importance of a proper geographical representation in EU leadership. In the Commission, the top leadership positions analysed in the report the Honourable Member references are the President and the Secretary-General, positions held by two women, one from Germany and one from Latvia: a visible reflection of a geo-political and gender balanced Commission.
2. Both institutions are actively addressing the issue of geographical balance at all levels, including at management level. Geographical balance is a key element of the new human resources strategy that the Commission is currently preparing and is explicitly mentioned in all senior management vacancy notices. The Commission has put in place tailored talent programmes to address the development needs of candidates aspiring to a career in senior management which have been discussed over the past months via dedicated meetings with the middle managers of the underrepresented nationalities. The EEAS is also taking measures to guarantee more geographical balance, including at management level, and to encourage underrepresented Member States to nominate candidates for all posts in the EEAS (headquarters and Delegations). As a result, in the 2021 Rotation exercise, seven out of the 32 appointed Heads of Delegations (24.24%) are nationals of the Central and Eastern European Member States; this percentage is higher than the share of these Member States in the overall EU population (20.15%). Both the Commission and the EEAS count on the good cooperation with Member States.”
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