Ireland to push graduates towards EU jobs to combat ‘demographic cliff’

Government fears waning Irish influence in key posts in Brussels

The Government is set to launch plans to increase the number of Irish people being hired into the European Unions institutions.  Photograph: iStock/Getty

The Government is set to launch plans to increase the number of Irish people being hired into the European Unions institutions. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

The Irish Government is set to launch plans to increase the number of Irish people being hired into the European Unions institutions amid concerns of a waning Irish influence and presence in powerful roles.

The Government has drawn up the strategy in response to what is described as an impending “huge demographic cliff”, with many senior Irish figures in EU institutions about to retire.

Only one or two graduates are being hired into the system each year, making for a dwindling Irish presence just as the country needs to bolster its influence following the exit of Britain from the bloc.

Attempts to recruit more Irish staff have been hampered by the requirements for high levels of competency in languages other than English, and a lengthy recruitment process.

Drawn up by Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne, the strategy is to place 50 new graduates into secure EU jobs by 2030, increasing the rate to five hires per year, and is expected to be launched this week.

In addition, Ireland will seek to send 50 so-called seconded national experts – civil servants send to work temporarily in the EU institutions – each year, double the current number.

As part of the strategy, it may be necessary to set up an “EU stream” in the civil service, which could take part in EU recruitment and also add to EU expertise.

There will be significant opportunities for people with advanced Irish language skills, as a derogation lapses in 2022, requiring the recruitment of more Irish language staff. Irish became an official and working language of the EU at the request of Ireland in 2005.

Until the end of this year, the derogation allows for only some EU documents to be translated into Irish while the required Irish-language staff such as linguistic assistants, translators and lawyer-linguists are recruited.

There are also plans to increase the number of scholarships available to the College of Europe.

The Minister has approached the European budget and administration commissioner Johannes Hahn about introducing recruitment drives based on nationality, but the idea is controversial among member states. A separate European Commission jobs strategy is expected to be launched later this year.

The plan follows a public consultation which asked Irish people to share their difficulties with the EU recruitment process, which is typically run through annual competitions called “concours”, in which panels of qualified candidates are identified and then called up for roles as needed.

Available jobs and upcoming competitions are advertised on the European Personnel Selection Office website.