Friday, February 25, 2011

Should Eurocrats become Kipling's men

We all know the poem, blu-tacked to a thousand adolescent doors, hung in a million kitchens and downstairs loos and regularly voted the Nation's favourite poem. Kipling posits the impossible and suggests that such a paragon is the definition of man. (Though I always felt I could attain this bit ' And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise')

It is like a Christian requirement that all adherents become Christlike rather than aspire to it.

Now it is the Eurcrats turn to partake in a similar game. The European Ombudsman has launched a public consultation into what 'Ecce Eurocrat' should be,
Draft for public consultation Public service principles that should guide EU civil servants Commitment to the European Union and its citizens

Civil servants should be conscious that the Union’s institutions exist in order to serve the interests of the Union and of its citizens.

They should make recommendations and decisions only to serve these interests, not for any other purpose.

Civil servants should carry out their functions to the best of their abilities and aim to set a good example to others.


Civil servants should conduct themselves at all times in a manner that would bear the closest public scrutiny. This obligation is not fully discharged merely by acting within the law.

Civil servants should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation that might influence them in the performance of their functions. They should declare any private interests relating to their functions.

Civil servants should take steps to avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts. This obligation continues after leaving office. In claiming expenses and allowances, civil servants should be guided by a sense of propriety, rather than seeking to maximise their benefits.


Civil servants should be able to take intransigence and rudeness from the general public, and not mutter 'utter ignorant wankers' under their breaths. They should put up with outrageous slurs on their character and expected sexual performance without phoning in sick.


Civil servants should be open-minded, guided by evidence, and willing to hear different viewpoints. They should be ready to acknowledge and correct mistakes.

In procedures involving comparative evaluations, civil servants should base recommendations and decisions only on merit and any other factors expressly prescribed by law. Civil servants should not allow the fact that they like, or dislike, a particular person to influence their professional conduct.

Respect for others

Civil servants should act respectfully to each other and to citizens. They should be polite, helpful, and co-operative.


Civil servants should be willing to explain their activities and to give reasons for their actions. They should welcome public scrutiny of their conduct, including their compliance with public service principles.

One of the above is my own.

The point is, as my grandmother would say, good intentions butter no parsnips. We all know what a decent civil servant, indeed a decent professional in any field should be like. It is holding them to this that is the problem, and what to do about it, effectively if/when they fail.

It is about managing reasonable expectations about the men and women who inhabit the institutions, it is understanding that they are human and thus flawed, and whilst holding them up to a fine pattern, not denouncing them entirely for all failures.

I fear that this excercise is mere spin. We know what people should be like already, and tythis consultation will merely confirm this. But we don't know what to do about failure. What we are left with is a crowd sourced Eurocrat mission statement.

Nico asks for your comments to be sent here


CIngram said...

"...the Union’s institutions exist in order to serve the interests of the Union and of its citizens."

Sinister phrase. A government, state, ideology or whatever should only exist to serve its citizens/members etc. When its primary purpose is to serve and protect itself, and the people who are its excuse fot existing become secondary, we are buggered. (My collected essays on Utopia will be published shortly...)

Anoneumouse said...

In search of the 'Holy Grail' we have yet another Seige Perilous. Rational behaviour would dictate that the SHIT on top of the toilet seat should be disposed of by flushing it down the toilet. But, given the placement of the SHIT, we now have The Seige Perilous, how exactly is this to be accomplished?

Gawain Towler said...

Mr Ingram, a very good point well made.