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The Civil Servants Career

Belgium vs Romania
Serban Nicolae Simion
Organization and Human Resources Management
6/3/14

Serban Nicolae Simion

Introduction
Belgium, or the Kingdom of Belgium, one of the founding members of the European
Union, is a Western European state that is surrounded by the Low Countries, Luxembourg
France and Germany. It is safe to say that a blend of schools of thought and cultures of
the west. We find Germanic, Flemish, (neo) Latin and francophone influences, as seen
by the 3 official languages of this state (Flemish, French and German).
Taking into account the demographic differences and the cultural fragmentation of
the nation, over time a delimitation of 3 communities was evident: the French, the
German and the Flemish communities put their mark on the administrative divide of the
Kingdom, and to solve the dispute the kingdom became a federation in 1970. Today
Belgium is divided in 3 regions: the Flemish, the Walloon (each with 5 provinces) and the
Brussels-Capital Region, a special case, as it lacks provinces and is only comprised of 19
communes from Belgiums total of 589.
Choosing Belgium for this paper was conditioned by the vast differences in the system
when relating to Romania. Romania is a unitary state, Belgium is a federation, Romania
is a semi-presidential republic and Belgium is a constitutional monarchy. If Romanias
constitution is inspired from the French, the Belgian constitution found its muse in the
Napoleon Code and is based on civil law.
Therefore, I believe it is at least intriguing to see how such a different state approaches
the civil service and how the management of human resources in public organizations is
treating the issues in a state with half the population of Romania. In order to do so, I am
going to briefly present the career of the public servant in both states so that we get a
clearer image of what happens in both the important poles of the European Union, the
center of the Western Europe and the Eastern counterpart.
This paper will be focusing on Belgium, leaving room for a short comparison to portray
the Romanian version at the end of each (sub)section.

Civil Service
Regarding civil service, just like Luxembourg or Italy, the Belgian constitution, the main
source of law in the state is very reserved, as it only mentions the basic principles in

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connection with the multilevel public service offices (the equality in accessing civil
service positions or the power to name servants), without consecrating at least one major
regulation about it.
The detailed provisions are given by laws and judicial texts formulated by the federal
Government. Other texts are adopted locally, by the local Parliaments and
Governments. Given that, even if the law is similar in most of the Belgian regions, access
to detailed information on the local legal basis has proven to be a sinuous and
cumbersome process. The plethora of information makes it easy to understand that in a
nutshell it all resumes to the constitution, so that research in writing this paper is founded
on the supreme law in the state.
The counterpart of the Statute of the public servant from Romania we have the Camu
Statute, a royal decree for 1937, modified on many occasions, but the major quantitative
and qualitative alterations were made in 2004. This statute contains exhaustive
information regarding recruitment, evaluation and promotion of public servants. Based
on the Roman-Germanic law system applied in France or Germany, the law systems
adapted to the needs of the Belgian federal state in a way that was on the verge of
becoming Anglo-Saxon. That is not to be understood as a combination of the two, but
safe to say, Belgium presents certain particularities. The Court of Cassation is at the core
of this unique system, as it is to control the correct application of law by Courts and
Tribunals.
Ever since 1937, the Belgian public service system has been based on the following
principles:

Loyalty

Merit

Political neutrality

Legitimacy

Balance between the factors that govern the Belgian public administration
o

Language

Politics

Religion

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Whereas in Romania we have the following:

Legality, impartiality and objectivity

Transparency

Responsibility, according to the legal provisions

Citizen-orientation

Stability in exercising civil service

Hierarchic subordination.

In order to present the categories of civil servants, please see Table 1 bellow.

Level

Nature of work

Educational level

Management, planning and

University studies + superior long term

research

A
Level

Specialized work

non-university education
Superior

short

term

non-university

education

B+
Level

Execution

Post-secondary education

Level

Administrative desk work

Secondary

Level

Hand labor

Basic

B
C
D
Table 1 Categories of civil servants in Belgium.

In Romania the classification is a little more elaborate, as presented by Article 9 of the


Statute of the Civil Servant, since we have classification based on education, attributions
and experience.
It is worth mentioning that Belgium has a public sector that encompasses human
resources that are not necessarily public administration, such as employees from
healthcare, education, formation or the police. Only a small number of employees work
in administrative structures and have a statute regulated by law. The others are either
public managers or contracted.

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At the same time Belgium relies on volunteering communities and NGOs to fulfill certain
public attributions, managing to cut down on the number of civil servants and avoiding
oversaturation.

The Career of the Civil Servant


Recruitment
Access to the Belgian civil service jobs is made through the Federal Office for Selection
and Recruitment, called SELOR. SELOR is responsible for organizing the public
competition, evaluating the candidates and distribute them to their positions based on
the results of evaluation. They are the corresponding National Agency of Public Servants
or ANFP from Romania.
According to Art. 15-44 from the Statute, ministerial departments are granted a
notable autonomy, for instance in formulating the skills profile that they need to fulfill in
order to get the office. On the other hand, in Romania the ANFP collaborate directly with
a specialized compartment that is to manage the human resources in that specific public
organization.
After this procedure, the departments receive a list of the selected and classified
candidates so that they can choose from a range of x candidates.
Obviously, in order to gain access to an office, an official notification of vacancies is
to be made. These notification are published in the Belgian Monitor. The complete and
detailed list is posted on the SELOR website.
Among the provisions for qualifying for such a position we could mention the
education level, but also the linguistic criteria, as each region has the right to
independently regulate the use of one of the 3 official languages of Belgium. Therefore,
all the 3 are tested through a digital interface so that they can assess the comprehension
of law in all 3 languages. It is to mention that the other 2 languages that are not official
in the region are considered foreign languages and are treated (to be read as paid)
as such.
Belgium does not impose a superior age limit, according to the Act 1998/13, Art. 3.
Even so, there are certain exceptions for certain types of offices.

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Even though nationality is not an impediment, the law applies for community nationals
the same as it would for the nationals, as granted by the Treaty of the European
Community, Art. 39 (4). However, experience is to be neglected. It is axiomatic to mention
that experience is an advantage only for a national that previously worked in the public
sector.
Besides a thorough medical examination of the candidate, a probation period is also
required, depending on the nature of work and the office corresponding to it.
In Romania, a candidate should enlist before, file his request to run for office and take
the national exam organized and held in the provisions of the law. The recruitment
process may take more than one interview or examination that may stretch the entire
process, however, without passing the first written examination it is unlikely that a
candidate might pass to the following phase of recruitment.
Just as in Belgium, vacancies are published in the Romanian Official Monitor, or on the
online platform of the ANFP in the contest section or on the ex-publicjob.ro website, now
posturi.gov.ro.

Promotion
Public servants in the two states under our microscope occurs slightly in the same way
as well.
In Romania a certain work experience in the public sector is needed, and after these
terms are met, follows a normal contest as for occupying a new position. This means that
one cannot start his career in civil service on a higher level, which is a waste of time and
resources. Reality might prove my hypothesis that on many occasions we might find
overqualified people in entry level jobs of the public administration. This is a serious
deterrent for professionals to enroll in such a system where the number of years worked
as an entry level servant matters more than what you are actually able to do, leading to
a serious drop in motivation.
On the other hand, in Belgium the public organizations rely on SELOR to evaluate the
entire staff at least once every 2 years. Depending on the results there might be the case
for promotion or not. They confront themselves with the same issue of work experience

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criteria, but there is also a possibility to go around this through recommendations or


performance evaluation so that servants can climb the 13 step ladder.
However, the candidates must also pass an examination that is either a public contest
or an internal selection procedure.
Albeit, from a practical point of view, it has been proven that recommendations and
interviews were only formalities in certain cases for both member states of the EU. For both
countries in order to apply for a top position, a servant must have had a superior level
position for at least 15 years.
Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases of politicization of the civil servants,
which is not beneficial for any state, as political domination over the administrative
apparatus disturbs the balance of the entire system.

Sanctions
In Belgium there is no general plan or strategy for anticorruption, but every ministry has
an incorporated department for integrity monitoring. What is more, Act 99/10/2
regarding anticorruption worsened sanctions for officials found guilty of corruption. It is
difficult to implement a unitary sanction system as the fragmented administrative
structure translates to the number of entities matching the number of different
approaches.
Even so, the Court of Audit, under Article 180 from the Constitution, makes observations
on their investigations and notifies the Parliament. The GO 99/5/6 and 03/11/26 but the
Royal Decree 00/22/12 regulate the rights and obligations of the servants from Brussels
Capital Region.
The Belgian do have an ethical code of conduct for public servants since 2004 and
federally speaking , Articles 7 and 13 from the constitution regulate the ethical framework
for activities. Article 77 presents the actual sanctions, keeping in mind that the sanctions
are to be kept in the servants file from 6 months to 3 years.
Sanctions for public servants are:

Warning;

Reprimand;

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Reduction of salary;

Disciplinary Transfer;

Disciplinary suspension;

Degradation;

Post relegation and dismissal with or without loss of remuneration rights.

As we can see, sanctions are more explicit for the Belgian system, whereas in Romania
we have disciplinary, administrative, civil or criminal accountability, depending on the
case.

Ending the Rapport of Civil Service


The public service rapport ends by retirement right at the age of 65 or anticipated at
60 for both women and men. In order to retire, a public servant must have a minimum of
5 years of experience in the public sector, but must have been working in the public
sector for at least 20 years in order to benefit from a special pension right.
In Romania the threshold for retirement has been recently modified so that it
corresponds to the European norms, making it the same as in Belgium, at 65. As far as the
research for this paper goes, I have not found any information about any special rights
or pensions after retiring from the public sector, as the Belgians have.

Conclusions
To sum up, it is safe to say that the European Union manages to impose a general
framework over its member states in connection to the human resources management,
especially for the public servants. Of course, that does not mean an utter ceasing of
sovereign rights, as member states can bend the framework to their liking, adapting it to
their needs.
We have seen a series of similarities and differences at the two poles of this paper. And
as a final remark it is safe to say that there is not only one right way of doing things in this
aspect, as the cultural and organizational boundaries make it different for everybody to
be able to work under the same framework.
In other words, the human resource management of civil servants in the European
Union responds to the needs of the servant, offering a certain flexibility for both national

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organizations and public entities to do whatever they deem necessary in order to be


productive.

Serban Nicolae Simion

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