He has told commissioners that he is “not in favour of additional changes being made for the sake of it” and that he would not insist on a strict and automatic application of mobility rules.
The Commission’s mobility rules as developed during the presidencies of Romano Prodi and José Manuel Barroso have hitherto laid down that directors-general should be rotated ideally every five years, with an upper limit of seven years. They have also provided that directors-general should not be the same nationality as the commissioners that they serve.
But, according to the minutes of a meeting of the college of European commissioners held on 18 March, Juncker told them that he considered it preferable “in some cases to prioritise the stability of high-performing teams”.
Juncker told commissioners that he wanted to “make only changes that were necessary, based mainly on the ‘people first’ principle and on the need for interaction and empathy between the commissioners and directors-general concerned.
The president said that he intended to embark on a three-step procedure, leading up to a reshuffle in June.
He invited commissioners to submit to him, before the end of April, three names for the post of director-general for which they are responsible “taking into account the need for an extremely close relationship between them”. The list could include the current director-general “whatever their length of service in the post” and each list should include a woman.
The second stage would take place in May, when Juncker would consult the vice-presidents and seek their opinions. In the third stage he would draw up a list and would seek “as far as possible” to satisfy each member of the Commission and make proposals “by the end of June”.
His choice would “take into account geographical and male-female balances and personal preferences “so as to form competent teams that would work harmoniously together”.
Juncker’s relaxation of the mobility rules will be particularly pertinent to those departmental heads who have been in their current post for longer than five years. Catherine Day has been the Commission’s secretary-general, the most senior official, since November 2005.
A further 12 directors-general will by July have been in their posts for five years or more. In chronological order they are: Martine Reicherts (Publications Office, Aug 2007); Walter Rademacher (Eurostat, Aug 2008); Marco Buti (ECFIN, Dec 2008); Karl-Friedrich Falkenberg (ENVI, Jan 2009); Irene Souka (May 2009); Luis Requena Romero (legal service, June 2009); Jos Delbeke (CLIMA, Feb 2010); Alexander Italianer (COMP, Feb 2010); Robert Madelin (CNECT, April 2010); Lowri Evans (MARE, July 2010); Jonathan Faull (FISMA, July 2010); and Robert-Jan Smits (RTD, July 2010).
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