Monday, 18 October 2010

Not Enough Brits...

...working for the EU. That's the BBC view here, an article which clearly argues that Britain's problems with the EU stem in part from not enough Brits working for it. Well they would say that wouldn't they? It begins:

A starting salary of £45,000 plus a relocation bonus of £7,200. A pension worth up to 70% of your final salary and 24 days of leave plus "travel" days. Oh, and a job for life .

All this, and more, is up for grabs if you manage to pass the entrance exams to work for the European Union.

A final salary pension scheme? What's that? A job for life? What's one of those? Nice work if you can get it, which is precisely why it's so popular:
So it is little wonder that in excess of 50,000 eager young Europeans attempt the process known as the Concours every year.

They compete for a mere 320 places and so are, it is argued, the Praetorian guard of European civil servants

But there's a 'problem':

However, while the UK has about 12% of the EU's population, it provides only 5% of the EU's staff.

Now some might say cynically so what? But:

...for Britain's ambassador to the EU, Kim Darroch, this misses the point.

"Brits working in the EU are not working for the British government, they are working for the European Union," he says.

"But what they bring is an understanding of British culture and of the importance in the UK of enterprise and of the British common law system. It's a reality that when you're working with a commission official, if you have a common background, then the relationship is different."

This subtle impact is acknowledged by the few Brits who have actually made it through the exams.

I love the inherent contradiction in the first 2 paragraphs that a British official who has gone 'native' and whose loyalty would be to the EU, would be able to 'fight' Britain's corner albeit subtlety. So why, asks the BBC stroking its jaw in contemplation, are there so few Brits (my emphasis):

...he points to the "negative impression" many have about the EU.

"We all hear the stories about the gravy train; the fat cats; the straight bananas, the bent cucumbers,"

Oh those pesky negative views. And a wonderful lack of irony by the BBC regarding fat cats given the first paragraph of this article. Of course there may actually be other reasons that the EU is unpopular aside from bent cucumbers, and not just by the UK (translated via Google):
Employers in Germany have called on the European Parliament to vote against an extension of maternity leave to 20 weeks at full pay. The plans would lead to higher costs for businesses and could also worsen the employment opportunities of women.
So anyway we are all agreed that we need more Brits at the top table because:
...It is simply a more elegant way of doing work with a bright bunch of people and you make policy that affects peoples' lives."
More elegant because the messy democratic way of doing things doesn't intrude. The coalition unsurprisingly agree:

But the British government is tired of hearing stories like Nick's.

It has already re-started a programme called the European Fast Stream to prepare British candidates for taking the exams.

The event in London on Monday, with Mr Clegg and Mr Hague, is part of the ongoing project of trying to raise the profile of the EU as an employer.

That there is, of course, another solution naturally doesn't get a mention.


  1. As Jimi Hendrix once sang : "there must be some way out of here".
    We just haven't found it yet.

  2. @JIC indeed, though I'll give Mr Hendrix's ultimate example a miss if I can help it.