Irish News

Friday 11 July 2014

Lack of new recruits putting our influence in EU at risk

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 03/01/2014|02:30

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High ranking EU official Catherine Day
High ranking EU official Catherine Day

The country is at risk of losing its inside influence at the heart of the EU in Brussels -- with half of the Irish-born officials reaching retirement age.

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There are currently 213 permanent Irish officials in the European Commission, which includes the highest ranking official, Commission Secretary General Catherine Day.

But half of them are now eligible for retirement and only three Irish-born officials have joined the European Commission in the past there years.

Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly has warned that the country is at risk of losing its influence in the European Commission. And he blamed the lack of language skills for the low numbers of Irish graduates getting jobs there.

"Our European counterparts working in Brussels often have three, four or even more working languages -- putting the Irish workforce at a disadvantage in some ways," he said.

The European Commission office in Dublin is currently advertising vacancies for people with expertise in financial management and accounting, economy and finance, and legal matters. They must also have a good command of French or German. The starting salary is €40,764 per year.

The Dublin-based European Movement group, which works to increase links with the EU, has also warned that the number of Irish people in the EU Institutions is in decline.

Its executive director Noelle O'Connell said there was a worrying lack of candidate to replace the Irish people who had were recruited to join the EU's civil service when the country joined in 1973.

"When employment opportunities at home are scarce, Irish people seem to feel more qualified for work in Australia and Canada than in Brussels and Strasbourg," she said.

However, Ms O'Connell said the recent six-month Irish EU Presidency had helped to reinforce the high regard for Irish staff in EU institutions.

"Known as hard-working, flexible team players, Irish people working in Brussels are seen as possessing a number of key skills which are highly desirable for a career in the EU institutions," she said.

Irish Independent

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