Summary: EU Presidency Statement - Programme Budget for Biennium 2004-05: Lifting recruitment suspension of General Service category (18 October 2005: New York)
EU Presidency Statement on Item 123: Programme Budget for the Biennium 2004-2005: Lifting suspension of recruitment of General Service category staff, by the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations on behalf of the European Union, Fifth Committee, United Nations, New York
Thank you Mr Chairman. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.
The report of the Secretary-General in A/60/363 comes as a disappointment to the EU. When the General Assembly took the measure of introducing a recruitment freeze for General Service staff in the context of the Regular Budget negotiations in 2003, the intention was to address what we saw as a high proportion of GS to professional staff in comparison to other organisations. We expected to stimulate a re-think in the Secretariat of how best to assign and use the resource of GS staff in an age of increased automation, new technologies and more flexible skills expectations from all levels of staff.
In EU countries, for example, many traditional support tasks have been eliminated or subsumed into the job descriptions of professional level staff, due in large part to the wider prevalence of IT skills. This does not of course mean that the requirement for support tasks no longer exists - on the contrary, a whole new range of demands has emerged. But we hoped that the experience from this measure would address these points. We were aware that such a sweeping experiment might have unintended consequences, and we take note of the problems described in the report in front of us. However, the report simply produces a list of problems encountered in finding replacement GS staff for existing slots rather than illustrating the remedies that were tried to reconfigure work units.
The European Union commends the work done by the ACABQ in the analysis of this topic. The Committee has identified very precisely the shortcomings in the report. We were concerned to learn from the ACABQ that the information they requested on the specialised functions, the numbers of posts involved and their distribution across departments was not readily available. We wonder how we are expected to recommend a policy change without such information on which to base our review. Furthermore, we do not understand why 1 December 2005 is proposed as the date to lift the suspension, when later the very same month, we will be taking a decision on GS staff numbers in the context of the 2006-07 budget.
The European Union would have liked to see this report backed up by at least an interim report from the Secretariat on the analysis of the functions performed by General Service staff. In this regard, we look forward to receiving information on the survey carried out by consultants as mentioned in paragraph 12 of the ACABQ report, which we understand will be available by the end of October. Such a report will be extremely useful when considering the Secretary-General's proposals to lift the recruitment freeze and the GS staff allocation in the context of the proposed budget for 2006-07.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.