An EU without Danes?
None of the 357 Danes who took the last EU staffing test passed, meaning that no Danes will be up for consideration for posts within EU institutions this year.
The poor performance by Danish applicants disappointed the minister for European affairs, Nicolai Wammen (Socialdemokraterne), who has now launched a taskforce to tackle the problem and improve the chances of Danes looking to find employment in the EU.
“It is vital that we have centrally-placed civil servants [in EU institutions] that know Denmark and understand our causes,” Wammen wrote in a press release. “One of the ways to gain influence is to have Danes placed within EU institutions [which is] why it is worrying that it is difficult to attract clever young Danes.”
All permanent staff employed by EU institutions are found through an open competition known as the Concours that is held about once a year.
Danes make up 1.6 percent of the staff employed at EU institutions, a figure which is calculated based on the size of the Danish population, voting weight in the European Council of Ministers and the number of Danes in the European Parliament.
But according to Wammen, about 15 to 20 percent of the 600 Danish civil servants employed in the EU are retiring over the coming years and Denmark risks losing influence in the EU if they cannot be replaced, especially given that Denmark's performance at the Concours is gradually worsening.
Wammen stated that he would be travelling to Brussels tomorrow to discuss the level of Danish staffing in the EU with administration commissioner Marcos Sefcovic and Danes employed in EU institutions.
Mariann Fischer Boel, a former EU commissioner and member of opposition party Venstre, has agreed to help him with his new taskforce, which will also include representatives of other ministries, the industry lobby group Dansk Industri and the association of lawyers DJØF.
Marlene Wind, an EU professor at the University of Copenhagen, told Politiken newspaper that Wammen also needs to push for a new way of testing candidates if more Danes are to make it through.
“[Danes] find the test old-fashioned and drawn-out and the ability to rote learn, which is being tested, does not appeal to them,” Wind said. “I think they need to do something about the way they recruit otherwise the best candidates won’t make it inside the EU system, which is neither in Denmark nor the EU’s best interest.”