Ministero degli Affari Esteri

Unita' di Analisi e Programmazione

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

and Italy's Presence in International Organizations

 

 

 

 

 

by

Elio Menzione, Stefano Baldi, Antonio Enrico Bartoli

 

 

 

 

Research paper n. 4

June 2000

 

 

 

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Italy's Presence in International Organizations ()

 

Elio Menzione, Stefano Baldi, Antonio Enrico Bartoli

 

 

 

1 - Introduction *

2 - Information *

3 - Data Banks *

Table 3.1 - Vacancies in the main international organizations - by sector (1999) *

4 - Supporting candidates *

5 - The "Comitato interdirezionale sulle candidature" (The Directorates-General's Committee on Candidacies). *

6 - A few specific examples *

6.1 - A preparation course for international civil servants financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. *

Table 6.1 - Participants in the courses funded by MFA (1998/1999) *

6.2- The "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Associate Experts" Programme. *

Table 6.2 - Selected Associate Experts (1993-1998) *

Table 6.3 - Applicants and candidates pre-selected for the JPO programme by type of degree (1996-1998) *

Table 6.4 - selected JPOs - by degree (1993-1998) *

6.3 - United Nations national competitive recruitment examination programme *

Table 6.5 - The United Nations national competitive recruitment examination programme - Examinations reserved for Italian nationals (1999-2000) *

6.4 - EU: National experts and temporary agents *

6.5 - Administrative twinning financed through the PHARE programme *

7 - The legal status of international civil servants and their subsequent resumption of employment in Italy. *

APPENDIX I - Legal texts *

APPENDIX II - Brief description of courses in preparation for international civil service careers *

 

 

1 - Introduction

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in recent years, has stepped up its attention and commitment to promoting Italy's presence in international organizations and European Union institutions, convinced as it is that this is an important element in terms both of Italy's international projection and the "internationalization" of the country. While fully respecting the independence of international civil servants, their country of origin always remains a point of reference in terms of culture and values.

The Ministry has been working on several levels: publicizing available opportunities, financing training courses for international civil servants, identifying the most promising candidates and coordinating support activities.

These are often complex operations, and positive results are only forthcoming in the medium and long term, and then only through continuous effort.

Over 2,700 Italian nationals are international civil servants, constituting an important potential resource. Increasing the quantity and the quality of Italy's presence in international organizations gives greater prestige to Italian foreign policy and contributes to creating a pool of highly internationalized public servants.

 

2 - Information

There are over 150 intergovernmental organizations being monitored by the Ministry. They employ several thousand people, therefore there are many employment opportunities at different levels (in many cases it is also possible to enter at middle-senior grades) in the widest range of professional sectors. One of the primary goals that the Ministry has been pursuing with an innovative approach is to provide information on the opportunities in international organizations. The Internet is an ideal instrument, for two main reasons: its use is growing all the time, particularly amongst young people with a certain level of education, and it has long been used by all the international organizations to spread information, including details on training courses, entry examinations and vacancies. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has therefore set up a special section on its own website

(http://www.esteri.it/opportu/concorsi/index.htm), making available some tools that can be used by anyone wishing to know how to join the international civil service and to apply for a certain post.

The first tool is an "interactive" guide offering an overview of grades, salaries, recruitment methods, internships, vacancies, Associate Expert and Young Professionals programmes, peacekeeping and election monitoring missions. It is an introductory text but also an instrument for regular consultation. A whole chapter is, in fact, devoted to different subject areas (such as personnel management, statistics, finance). It indicates the most frequently requested university degrees and makes it possible to constantly monitor the latest vacancies grouped by professional profiles.

One can also retrieve information from the "Vacancies and opportunities for young people" section which offers a list of the main international agencies. For each agency there is a page which includes not only addresses but also relevant links (home page, list of vacancies, programmes available for young people, application forms).

Lastly, the site also contains a chapter devoted to the European Union with links to the examination timetable, an explanation of the opportunities as temporary agents and national experts (see paragraph 6.4 below) together with a list of documents and sites useful for those wishing to prepare for a career in the European Union.

Although priority is given to the Internet, the press is not neglected. A regular selection of the most interesting vacancies is distributed to leading newspapers and media (Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Sole 24 Ore) which have regular feature pages and sometimes specific services for international civil service careers, demonstrating our increasing interest in this area.

Vacancies can also be consulted at the Farnesina's Public Relations Office. The Ministry sends the application forms to any candidates requesting them.

 

3 - Data Banks

In order to encourage more Italians to become international civil servants it is essential to spread a detailed knowledge of the real opportunities.

The Directorate-General for Personnel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a file of international civil servants who are Italian nationals and have supplied their own personal data. Furthermore, computerized files for each organization, indicating the number and grade of Italian civil servants belonging to them, are constantly updated. Therefore it is possible to make a comparison between the percentage of Italian civil servants employed and the percentage of Italy's contributions to the overall budget. Other comparisons that can be made with our main partners and with the largest contributors.

With such information the Ministry can identify the organizations where Italy is fairly represented (to put it more simply, where the percentage of employees is comparable to the importance of the Italian contribution) and those where our country is under-represented or has an advantageous position. This is a useful criterion to decide which organizations (and career grades) Italy should concentrate on when promoting candidatures. In some organizations Italy has been found to be adequately represented in terms of numbers, but there may be a much larger number of medium and low grade employees and none at the top. It is important to emphasize that when analysing the Italian share of posts numbers must be balanced by quality.

 

Table 3.1 - Vacancies in the main international organizations - by sector (1999)

SECTOR

1999

   

Human Resources, Financial Resources, Administration, Logistics

271

Information Technology, Mathematics, Statistics

239

Industry, Energy, Transport

192

Scientific research

168

Law

132

International relations, Social sciences

115

Environment, Ecology, Agriculture, Veterinary science

99

Medicine / Public Health

94

Economics / International Trade

89

Public Relations / Information and Press

78

Development / Humanitarian Aid

41

Telecommunications

39

Translation / Interpreting

39

Others

25

   

TOTAL

1622

 

 

Note: only the main organizations have been enumerated here

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs - DGPE V

Another valuable service performed by the Directorate-General for Personnel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the computerized cataloguing of most of the vacancy notices issued by the main international organizations. This listing uses a special program which records some of the main eligibility requirements for each vacancy notice: profession, previous experience, languages, academic qualifications, etc. There are two advantages with this. Firstly it allows to find out individual "fields" in order to identify the main trends emerging in each of the organizations. Table 3.1, for example, shows which are the areas in greatest demand. Secondly, it creates a pool of selected candidates (primarily civil servants already serving under a contract about to expire) making it possible to trigger a targeted research for positions of particular interest to Italy, matching supply and demand. In other words, the program identifies all candidates whose "fields" (academic qualifications, experience, languages, etc.) meet the requirements for the vacancy under consideration.

 

4 - Supporting candidates

Another important activity performed by the Ministry is supporting Italian candidates. Italian citizens applying for a post (up to the equivalent of the United Nations P5 grade) submit the compiled application form to the organization and may send a copy to the Directorate-General for Personnel (Office V) at the ministry of Foreign Affairs. This Office examines the candidate's curriculum and requests the competent Diplomatic Mission to support the Italian candidate if certain conditions are met. In particular if Italy has an interest in filling the vacancy and if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for the relevant post. Such support is provided through a Note Verbale which the relevant Italian Mission submits to the international organization, and informally through contacts with the offices and officials of the Organization. It should be emphasized that no support is given for candidates to non-governmental organizations, as governments, by definition, have no say in the affairs of NGOs.

Candidates for more senior grade posts (D1, D2 and above in the United Nations system and their equivalents in other international organizations) are followed up by the Directorates-General which are competent for the relevant sector, and are monitored at meetings of the "Comitato Interdirezionale", whose procedures and functions are illustrated in paragraph 5.

Normally speaking, Italian candidates are supported in case of internal vacancies. While it is necessary to take action to increase the numbers of Italian civil servants in a particular organization, it is equally important to ensure that those who are already working in those organizations are able to satisfy their legitimate career expectations.

It is precisely to gain an overall view at the local level that the Ministry has decided to appoint an official who is responsible for relations with the Italian staff of international organizations at every Permanent Mission (New York, Geneva, Brussels, Vienna). The Ministry has tried to encourage the establishment of associations of Italian international civil servants, and provides them with a single Ministerial counterpart with whom to discuss general issues.

 

5 - The "Comitato interdirezionale sulle candidature" (The Directorates-General's Committee on Candidacies).

As we have mentioned, responsibility for promoting and monitoring Italian candidates to senior posts in international organizations falls to the Directorates-General competent by subject matter within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (for example, the Directorate-General for Cultural Promotion is responsible for candidates to posts in UNESCO, the DG for Multilateral Economic Cooperation for candidacies to the OECD and the financial institutions etc.). In order to increase the effectiveness of the Ministry's monitoring activities, in 1995 a special committee was set up, including all relevant Directorates-General - to coordinate their efforts, to identify Italy's priorities (by carrying out a comparative assessment of Italian presence and objectives in each international organization) and to draft more effective strategies in order to attain them.

The composition of this Committee changed in 2000, to be adjusted it to the new organization of the Foreign Ministry due to the entry into force of the Foreign Ministry reform. It is chaired by the Secretary-General and includes the Chef de Cabinet, all the Directors-General by subject matter, and one "geographic" Director-General (the one responsible for Europe in this case). The other Directors-General, Service Heads of the Ministry and the Diplomatic Counsellor of the Prime Minister may also attend these meetings, depending upon the issues on the agenda.

The Committee meets on average three or four times a year to take stock of the results obtained and to examine current (or imminent) vacancies in the main international organizations, for which it would be appropriate to find qualified Italian candidates.

The Committee is assisted by a working group which holds interim meetings between the Committee meetings to ensure the continuity of its action.

Since 1999 the work of the Committee has become more complex. In addition to the plenary meetings and the meetings of the working group there are now regular meetings by sector, convened and organized by the Directors-General for the international organizations they are competent for. Those meetings are open to the participation of officials from other Ministries, as well as to people from the private sector (Confindustria, the banks, professional associations). This new type of initiative enables the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate its work more systematically, regularly and effectively with other parties interested in candidatures for the international organizations, while keeping a central role in managing this important sector.

 

6 - A few specific examples

As indicated earlier, the work performed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to foster Italy's presence in international organizations has various aspects. Here are a few examples of some of the activities and initiatives of the Farnesina.

 

6.1 - A preparation course for international civil servants financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The MFA provides financial contributions for numerous training courses for persons interested in a career in international organizations or in the diplomatic service.

Table 6.1 - Participants in the courses funded by MFA (1998/1999)

AGENCY

Men

Women

Total

University of Bologna - Ass. Bartolo da Sassoferrato - Bologna

11

11

ISPI (Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale) - Milan

18

9

27

University of Padua

6

17

23

SIOI (SocietÓ Italiana per l’Organizzazione internazionale) -Naples

8

9

17

SIOI (SocietÓ Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale) - Rome

25

10

35

L.U.I.S.S (Libera Universita' Internazionale Studi Sociali) - Rome.

14

3

17

I.U.S.E. (Istituto Universitario di Studi Europei) - Turin

9

9

18

TOTAL

Source: MFA - Diplomatic Institute

In some cases these are basic training courses for specific professions, but in other cases they are specialized courses.

The courses financed by the Ministry were attended by 159 persons (91 men and 68 women). Generally speaking, there are between 20 and 25 participants in each course, while the SIOI course in Rome has 35 (table 6.1).

A summary of the curricula of the courses is provided in the appendix. Table 6.1 illustrates the breakdown by gender (40% of the trainees are now women).

 

6.2- The "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Associate Experts" Programme.

The level of training and experience demanded for entry to the international organizations, even at the lowest grade, is rising all the time.

For many years Italy has been financing a programme to train international civil servants, offering them the opportunity to make an experience in various organizations, generally for two years. Some western countries (Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) are doing the same.

This scheme began as a result of a resolution of the United Nations Economic and Social Council adopted in 1961, approving and encouraging the collaboration of volunteers financed by their own countries in implementing ODA (Official Development Aid) programmes. The funding therefore comes from ODA resources funds.

Each year the MFA indicates which organizations will benefit by the Junior Professional Officers or Associate Experts financed by the Italian Government.

As table 6.2 shows between 2,500 and 3,000 applications are submitted each year (the only exception is 1994 with over 4,500 applications). Every year about 35-40 JPOs are selected (depending upon available funding).

Information supply, pre-selection and selection are carried out by the United Nations Secretariat which, under an agreement with Italy, has an office in Rome (ONU - Risorse Umane per la Cooperazione Internazionale - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 269 - 00186 Roma). The final choice of the candidates is made directly by the International Organizations to which Italy assigns associate experts and junior professional officers.

Candidates must not be older than 30 years (33 for graduates in medicine and surgery), hold a degree after taking a university course of at least four years and possess an excellent written and spoken knowledge of English. Preference is given to certain other factors: post-graduate training, relevant professional experience, and the knowledge of other United Nations working languages.

 

Table 6.2 - Selected Associate Experts (1993-1998)

YEAR

Candidates

Pre-selection

Selection

JPO

         

1993

2759

320

62

56

1994

4516

379

45

46*

1995

2415

195

40

41*

1996

2889

180

37

32

1997

2531

234

49

49

1998

2275

301

35

35

 

* One stand-by candidate was employed

Source: Elaboration on United Nations data.

The preliminary evaluation of the candidatures for the purpose of admittance to the selection tests is carried out by the United Nations at the end of each calendar year. It is based on the candidates' professional and academic experience and the knowledge of languages and also takes into account the kind of posts available in international organizations under the programme drawn up by the Italian Authorities. There is an extremely large number of candidates for the programme, even though the number of vacancies has varied in recent years from a minimum of 32 (in 1996) to a maximum of 56 (in 1993) as table 6.2 shows.

Table 6.3 gives an idea of the breakdown of the candidates for the JPO programme. The most commonly held degrees are in Political Science, Economics, and Law. Degrees in Foreign Language and Literature, Arts and Philosophy are a separate case: many graduates in these subjects apply but very few pass the pre-selection phase, as there is little demand by the international organizations for this kind of specializations. In Medicine, Engineering and Statistics, on the other hand, most of the candidates have been pre-selected in the years examined.

 

Table 6.3 - Applicants and candidates pre-selected for the JPO programme by type of degree (1996-1998)

Degree

 

1998

 

1997

 

1996

 
 

Candida-tures

Pre-selection

% Pre-sel.

Candida-tures

Pre-selection

Candida-tures

Pre-selection

Political Science

640

67

10,47%

704

66

795

49

Economics, Management

363

53

14,60%

432

49

511

34

Languages and Literature

258

8

3,10%

328

2

374

0

Law

324

50

15,43%

294

31

303

31

Engineering

132

16

12,12%

147

22

167

8

Agriculture, Geology Natural Science, Forestry, Environmental Studies

142

35

24,65%

142

10

188

17

Arts, Cultural History, Philosophy

113

22

19,47%

133

5

155

2

Medicine/Surgery, Dentistry

45

9

20,00%

61

10

63

11

Architecture

45

6

13,33%

49

5

52

0

Biology

33

7

21,21%

43

7

54

5

Statistics

23

3

13,04%

36

7

40

5

Chemistry/Pharmacy

25

1

4,00%

33

2

41

8

Physics

26

3

11,54%

29

2

42

3

Psychology, Education

38

4

10,53%

24

1

37

2

Social Sciences

38

7

18,42%

20

4

21

2

Veterinary Medicine

15

7

46,67%

14

4

18

1

Mathematics

7

0

0,00%

10

0

16

0

Other

8

3

37,50%

32

7

12

2

               

TOTAL

2275

301

13,23%

 

234

 

180

Source: Elaboration on United Nations data

The pre-selected candidates attend individual assessment interviews given by officials from the Organizations to which they have applied. The officials have the final word in the selection.

Table 6.4 shows all the JPOs who have served between 1993 and 1998, by degree. The table also shows that even in the case of degrees with a high number of selected candidates, there can be considerable differences from one year to the next. This depends mainly on the Organizations and the sectors indicated by the Farnesina every year.

Table 6.4 - selected JPOs - by degree (1993-1998)

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Political Science

9

15

15

15

15

11

Economics, Management

12

7

6

6

9

6

Languages and Literature

4

1

1

0

0

0

Law

5

4

5

5

2

3

Engineering

3

1

3

0

4

2

Agriculture, Geology Natural Science, Forestry, Environmental Studies

9

8

3

1

10

4

Arts, Cultural History, Philosophy

0

1

0

0

0

1

Medicine/Surgery, Dentistry

3

3

0

1

2

2

Architecture

2

1

0

0

2

1

Biology

2

1

3

0

0

1

Statistics

2

1

0

1

3

1

Chemistry/Pharmacy

0

1

1

2

1

0

Physics

1

1

1

0

0

0

Psychology, Education

0

0

0

1

0

0

Social Sciences

1

0

2

0

1

1

Veterinary Medicine

0

0

0

0

0

1

Mathematics

1

0

0

0

0

0

Other

2

1

1

0

0

1

TOTAL

56

46

41

32

49

35

Source: Elaboration on United Nations data.

In order to guarantee thorough training and preparation of the selected JPOs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also finances a two-week general orientation course at the United Nations Staff College in Turin. The purpose is to illustrate the principles underlying international development activity and the main working methods used in the various international organizations. But above all, the course provides an opportunity for the young, newly-selected candidates to meet and exchange views, coming as they do from different academic backgrounds and having to work in different environments.

The JPO may be required to serve at the Headquarters of the Organization, as well as in cooperation projects in the developing countries. They are given a one-year contract with the possibility of a renewal for a second year, and their entry grade is generally the lowest one (P1/P2 in the case of the United Nations) in the professional category.

 

6.3 - United Nations national competitive recruitment examination programme

Generally speaking, recruitment at the initial grades in the United Nations Secretariat is carried out through what is known as the national competitive recruitment examination programme. Numerous resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly have tried to increase the number of officials from countries that are not represented or are under-represented at the United Nations Secretariat. Nationals of states that are identified by the Secretariat each year for this purpose sit for the "National Competitive Examinations". These examinations are organized by the United Nations and are advertised separately depending on the professions involved and the grade required (P1/P2 or P3). Those recruited through national competitive examination usually receive a contract on the regular budget after a trial period of two years.

Recently, Italy, which is under-represented in the United Nations Secretariat, has been making great efforts to have examinations held exclusively for Italian nationals. The Secretariat only adds a country to the list if that country's Foreign Ministry shows interest. The Farnesina is also making great efforts to ensure that the successful candidates, whose names are placed on a "reserve list" on which the United Nations Secretariat subsequently draws, are actually recruited.

 

Table 6.5 - The United Nations national competitive recruitment examination programme - Examinations reserved for Italian nationals (1999-2000)

Category

1999

2000

Administration

-

P2

Statistics

P2

P2

Economics

P2

-

Press and Information

-

-

Legal Affairs

P2

P2

Electronic data processing

-

P2

Finance

-

P2

Environment

P2 and P3

-

Science and technology

-

-

Source: United Nations

 

The most recent national competitive examinations were held in 1988, 1991, 1993, 1998 and 1999. An examination is also being held in 2000. The categories for which the invitation has been issued for Italian citizens during the last two sessions are shown in table 6.5. At the beginning of 2000, the national competitive examination was also advertised to build up a list of suitable candidates for recruitment as humanitarian affairs officers with the OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

 

6.4 - EU: National experts and temporary agents

The "national experts" (ENDs) are officials from government departments and private and public companies and agencies who are seconded for a certain period to work with the various services of the European Commission. The secondment can vary from a minimum of three months to a maximum of three years. National experts work jointly with Commission officials with functions entrusted to them under a specific programme. This provides them with a valuable opportunity to learn how the complex mechanism of the Commission operates.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an important part to play both in disseminating information on the ENDs and in supporting their candidacies. In order to ensure that information is circulated more widely the Ministry has a special section on its Web site

(http://www.esteri.it/opportu/concorsi/index.htm) dedicated to the ENDs, which offers a continuously updated list of vacancies, indicating the eligibility requirements and making it possible to print out the application form. Italian candidacies must be sent to the Farnesina (Office VI of the Directorate-General for European Integration). This Office assesses the curricula to ensure that they comply with the eligibility requirements, and if they do, it offers its support through the Permanent Mission of Italy to the European Union.

In order to be appointed as a seconded national expert the candidates must have at least three years' professional experience and a thorough knowledge of at least one of the Community languages (generally the mother tongue) as well as a good knowledge of one other official language. Here again, knowledge of languages is essential to make it possible for the expert to work effectively during the time spent with the Commission.

Seconded national experts continue to receive their salaries from their home department (or agency or private company). However, the Commission always pays a daily mission indemnity to the expert (which is not counted for pension purposes) of about 104.30 euros as a per diem allowance, which is 75% of that paid to Commission officials working in European countries.

The expert is also entitled to refunded travelling and removal costs for installation in the place of assignment. Anyone interested in a END post should firstly ensure that their department or company agrees to finance the operation, before they apply.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also uses the Web site to advertise temporary posts to the EU Commission as they become available. These are for personnel who are both selected and recruited, generally for a period of three years, under a temporary assignment contract. In most cases at least 12 years' experience is required.

 

6.5 - Administrative twinning financed through the PHARE programme

Before acceding to the European Union, candidate countries must develop their institutional, administrative and judicial structures. In order to assist them in this institution-building process, the EU Member States use the PHARE programme. In the Member States, the acquis is applied by the central and local national authorities and by entities, agencies and professional associations. Private associations may also acquire experience implementing Community law in particular sectors.

The European Union has therefore set up a twinning programme between government departments and agencies (public and private companies) in the Member States and their counterparts in the candidate States in order to strengthen their institutional, administrative and judicial capacity using PHARE funding. On 5 February 1999 Italy and the Commission concluded a framework agreement laying down the basic rules for individual twinnings.

Twinning, which will continue for at least 10 years, will draw on an annual provision of about 500 million Euros. The PHARE Management Committee (chaired by a representative of the Commission and comprising representatives of the Member States) meets at least once a year to adopt the programme of each candidate country, indicating the twinning projects requested.

The next phase is implementation. For a period of one to three years, a civil servant or an expert from one of the Member States is seconded as a pre-accession adviser to a department or an agency in a candidate state. They formally remain linked to their original employer. The pre-accession advisers retain their home salaries, for which their employer is refunded, together with a 6% increment to facilitate the temporary recruitment of someone to replace them. The daily indemnity, paid from the PHARE programme, is 50% of the mission indemnity for A4 grade Commission employees: the daily allowance ranges from 71 euros in Lithuania to a maximum of 114 euros in Poland. The pre-accession adviser is also refunded travelling expenses, transport and accommodation costs, and all children's school fees are paid.

Section 11 of Legislative Decree n. 387 of 29 October 1998 (see the text in Appendix 1) introduced the principle of the international mobility of Italian civil servants, enabling them to retain their national salaries and making provision for the international organization to pay their salaries for services provided abroad. Private experts, provided that they are recruited under a temporary contract by a government department, may also be appointed pre-accession advisers.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee is currently working as the "national contact point". This is a sensitive posting, and involves keeping contacts, through the Italian diplomatic network, with the European Commission and the administrations of the candidate countries to keep constantly and promptly updated on any projects they intend to propose. They are also responsible for promoting cooperation and the participation of Italian government departments in twinning programmes approved by the PHARE committee and for coordinating their implementation in each phase. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organizes regular meetings with representatives of the Ministries concerned, with which it is in constant dialogue.

Since 1998 225 twinning projects have been presented, for a total amount of 78 million Euro for the first year and 107 in 1999. Italy has recently improved its contribution to the programme both in terms of twinned countries (9 out of 10 participating States) and of assigned projects (13 up to now). Further information is available at a specific page (http://www.esteri.it/polestera/ue/) of the Ministry web site.

 

 

7 - The legal status of international civil servants and their subsequent resumption of employment in Italy.

One way of encouraging more Italians to take up employment with international organizations is to allow our civil servants to benefit from he service they have rendered by facilitating their return to the national labour market upon the expiry of their contracts.

The need to establish a comprehensive and consistent legal status for international civil servants is also being voiced in the Italian Parliament (the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has adopted a motion "committing the government to draft measures to use the know-how and the expertise that these citizens acquire through their experience with international organizations"). This need is clearly recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has begun addressing the issue. A number of ideas have already taken shape in Acts of Parliament, of which a list of the most important are given in paragraph 8. Cases in point are section 11 of Legislative Decree no. 387 of 29/10/1998 (permitting secondments for ENDs, and twinning), Legislative Decree no. 377 of 2/10/1998 (which raised the age-limit by five years for civil servants wishing to sit for the diplomatic service entrance examination), and lastly the reform of the diplomatic career which includes "working experience as a professional with an international organization" (Legislative Decree no. 85 of 24 March 2000) as one of the preferential qualifications to be taken into account when assessing the examination results.

Other possibilities are currently under study. For example, the possibility of extending to employees in the "enlarged public sector" (as defined by section 1(2) of Legislative Decree 29/93 as subsequently amended: i.e. including the local administrations) the possibilities provided by law no. 1114/1962 (Provisions to enable civil servants to take leave in order to work for international organizations), with regard to retaining their former post. Another example is granting leave to employees of private companies applying for vacancies in international organizations. It may also be possible to equate at least two years' continuous service with an international organization (in this case with reference to the JPOs) with a post-graduate specialization. Under section 28 of Legislative Decree 29/93 as subsequently amended, this would enable candidates to take part in competitive entrance examinations for the highest civil service posts, as "dirigente". Further benefits could also be provided by considering the period of service with international organizations for the purposes of seniority of service, salary increases and for pension entitlement.

Lastly, official development assistance, or development cooperation, which is currently undergoing reform in Italy, in particular with a view to the future establishment of an autonomous Development Agency, is an area in which many international organizations operate: it is one of the sectors which could most profitably make use of the experience acquired by international civil servants.

 

APPENDIX I - Legal texts

Here are the main Italian legal texts relating to international civil servants.

(unofficial translation)

Law no. 1114 of 27 July 1962, Provisions governing the legal status and remuneration of civil servants authorized to take up posts with international agencies and organizations or to work for foreign governments.

1. Italian permanent civil servants, with the prior authorization of the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Minister having jurisdiction and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, may take up employment with international agencies or organizations and functions for foreign governments, even on a continuous basis.

Any civil servant in a grade below that of Director-General who is authorized in the aforementioned manner to take up such a post or exercise such functions shall be released by decree issued by the Minister having competence in the matter, after consultation with the Board of Directors, jointly with the Ministers of the Treasury and Foreign Affairs, while those in a grade which is not less than that of Director-General shall require a decree of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Cabinet, acting on a proposal by the Minister having jurisdiction, jointly with the Ministers for the Treasury and Foreign Affairs.

A civil servant in such cases shall be released for a specific period of time and, following the same procedures, the leave may be renewed upon the expiry date indicated in the original instrument, or it may be revoked before that expiry date.

2. Any civil servant released pursuant to section 1 shall be subject to the provisions of the Consolidated Act concerning the status of civil servants approved by Presidential Decree no. 3 of 10 January 1957.

From the date of release, the civil servant shall no longer be entitled to receive remuneration from the Italian state.

After that date, the civil servant is required to pay to his/her department or agency the social security contributions or withholding taxes due under section 57 of the aforementioned consolidated Act.

3. For certain countries in which civil servants provide their services upon release pursuant to section 1, a supplementary allowance may be granted following the rules and procedures set out in section 21 of law no. 13 of 4 January 1951 containing provisions governing the remuneration of diplomatic and consular personnel serving abroad. This supplementary allowance shall be paid by the department to which the civil servant belongs.

4. Within six months of the entry into force of this Act, the relevant departments shall proceed to regularize the position of any civil servants who are already working for foreign governments or who are in service with international agencies or organizations after being authorized to do so, in order to bring their position into line with the provisions of this Act.

Any service provided by civil servants under the conditions set forth in the foregoing paragraph on the date of entry into force of this Act shall be considered as being a service to the departments to which the civil servants in question belong.

By decree of the Minister having jurisdiction, acting jointly with the Ministers of the Treasury and Foreign Affairs, to be issued by the deadline indicated in the first paragraph of this section, the government departments shall define the accounting position of these civil servants for the period of service provided as indicated above.

There is no supplementary allowance entitlement.

5. The provisions of this Act shall also apply to permanent Italian civil servants whose position is not governed by the Consolidated Act governing the status of Italian civil servants approved by Presidential Decree no. 3 of 10 January 1957, save where this matter is governed otherwise by special provisions.

These provisions do not affect current legislation regarding the placement of teachers and managerial personnel of all Italian schools and educational establishments at the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

6. Section 1(1) and section 4(1) also apply to officers and NCOs permanently serving in the Armed Forces who, after receiving authorization from the Prime Minister, after hearing the opinion of the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, take up employment with international agencies or organizations, even if they continue to perform functions, also on a continuous basis, for foreign states. In this case, they shall cease to receive their remuneration from the Italian state.

They are entitled to receive the supplementary allowance referred to in section 3 above.

Recalled reserve officers who in the aforementioned manner have been authorized to take up employment with international agencies or organizations or for foreign governments, in the manner provided by section 1, shall cease to receive remuneration from the Italian state.

All the personnel to whom this section applies are required to pay to the Italian government agency to which they belong the social security contributions and withholding taxes which, by law, they would have paid if they were receiving their remuneration from the Italian state.

The provisions of this section shall, where appropriate and applicable, also apply to the Guardia di Finanza and Pubblica Sicurezza police, prison service officers, and non-conscripted military personnel in general.

7. The competent Ministers shall notify parliament in writing within 30 days of the authorization granted to civil servants on the basis of this Act. However, not more than 500 civil servants may be so authorized.

 

Law no. 26 of 11 February 1980 (known as 'the Signorello Act').

Provisions relating to the temporary release from service of civil servants whose spouse is also a civil servant and has been called to serve abroad.

1. Any civil servant whose spouse, being a civil servant or a member of the military, is serving abroad, may be temporarily released from service if the administration does not consider it possible to post that person to the same place in which the spouse is working, or when the conditions do not exist for that person to be transferred to the same place.

2. Temporary leave granted under section 1 of this Act may only last for the same period of time in which the underlying situation exists. It may be revoked at any time for reasons of service, or if the civil servant in question fails to take up residence abroad. Civil servants on temporary leave are not entitled to any allowances.

3. The time spent on leave granted pursuant to section 1 of this Act shall not be calculated for the purposes of career development, seniority, periodic remuneration increases or pension purposes. Upon expiry of the leave period, the civil servant shall have the seniority of service originally held, less the period of time spent on leave.

4. If the period of leave exceeds one year, the government department to which the civil servant belongs may fill the vacancy thus created. In this case any employee who returns following a period of leave shall be placed - if no vacancy is then available - on a special waiting list until the first vacancy occurs.

Law no. 333 of 25 June 1985 - Extension of the benefits provided by Law 26 of 11 February 1980 to civil servants whose spouse is serving abroad for non-governmental entities.

Any civil servant whose spouse is serving abroad with a non-governmental agency or entity may request to be released temporary from service pursuant to Law no. 26 of 11 February 1980.

 

Legislative Decree no. 184 of 30 April 1997 - Implementation of the enabling powers enacted by section 1(39) of law no. 335 of 8 August 1995 governing the reinstatement, redemption and voluntary continuation of pension contributions.

Section 3(2)

Workers released pursuant to the provisions of law no. 26 of 11 February 1980, as supplemented by law no. 333 of 25 June 1985, may redeem, wholly or in part, any leave periods for which they were not covered by mandatory, voluntary or automatic social security contributions with statutory pension agencies.

 

Legislative Decree no. 387 of 29 October 1998, section 11

Following article 33 of Legislative Decree no. 29 of 3 February 1993, the following 'Section 33 bis (Exchange of civil servants belonging to different countries and temporary service abroad)' is inserted.

"1. For the purpose of encouraging international exchanges of administrative experiences, employees of government administrations may, under specific reciprocity agreements concluded by the administrations concerned, and by agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Civil Service Department, be seconded temporarily to serve with government administrations in Member States of the European Union and Candidate States to accession to the European Union, and any other States with which Italy has cooperation agreements, or with international organizations and agencies of which Italy is a member.

"2. The remuneration may be paid by their original departments or those to which they are seconded or they may be divided between them or be wholly or partially reimbursed to the Italian State by the European Union or by an international organization or agency.

"3. All personnel working temporarily abroad shall remain for all intents and purposes employees of their original department. Any experience gained abroad shall be taken into account for the purposes of career development."

 

Ministerial Decree no. 377 of 2 October 1998 - Regulations establishing the upper age limit of thirty-five years for admission to the diplomatic service competitive entrance examination.

(...)

1. Upper age limit for examination admission

1. The upper age limit for admission to the competitive examination for the diplomatic career is thirty-five years.

2. Higher upper age limit for admission to competitive examinations for international civil servants

1. The age limit established in section 1 of this decree shall be raised for those who are currently serving or who have previously served, for at least two consecutive years, with an international organization of which Italy is a member. This age limit shall be raised proportionally to the length of such service, and up to a maximum of five years.

2. For the purposes of this regulation, 'international civil servant' means any Italian citizen who has been recruited by an international organization on a permanent basis or under a temporary contract in a post for which a university degree is required, and who has served continuously for at least two years with that organization.

 

Legislative Decree no. 85 of 24 March 2000 - Provisions reorganizing the diplomatic service pursuant to section 1 of law no. 266 of 28 July 1999.

1. The following section is hereby incorporated into Presidential Decree no. 18 of 5 January 1967 after section 99.

"Section 99 bis (Access to the diplomatic service)

(...) The following shall be specifically taken in account for the purposes of passing the diplomatic service: competitive entrance examination: post-graduate qualifications and a first and second class Master's degrees, completing of specific preparation courses organized by the Diplomatic Institute or by other institutions named in the regulation, and work performed by the civil servant with international organizations..."

 

APPENDIX II - Brief description of courses in preparation for international civil service careers

SocietÓ Italiana per la Organizzazione Internazionale (SIOI) - Rome - International orientation and basic training course for civil servants -

(http://www.sioi.org/corsi.htm)

Since 1970 SIOI has been organizing an International Orientation and Training Course mainly designed for those wishing to study in greater depth the issues of international cooperation at both the European and Community levels and at the international level through the United Nations and its specialized agencies. The Course is organized under the patronage of the Office of the Prime Minister - Civil Service Department - and of the Diplomatic Institute of the MFA.

The programme addresses topical issues and current international affairs, discussing topics of particular relevance to the professional training of the course attendees in the following fields: International Politics, current international economic issues, European security, international security, current affairs in the European Union.

The course is particularly suitable for professional civil servants and senior grades ("dirigenti") in the Italian civil service whose tasks relate to the international sphere, and also for foreign embassy officials in Rome interested in examining in greater depth international problems from Italy's point of view, and in perfecting their knowledge of the Italian language.

Basic training course for international civil servants

The basic training course for international civil servants is designed for young graduates and those about to graduate in any subject, who intend to embark upon an international career, particularly with international organizations or companies having international interests.

The increasing internationalization of the markets, the liberalization of the factors of production, and the efforts to establish new relations between the industrial countries and the developing countries, make it appropriate to adopt a different culture and mentality and undergo a different form of basic training and acquire a thorough understanding of international political and economic relations. The purpose of the course is to examine the present and the future aspects of international relations.

SocietÓ Italiana per la Organizzazione Internazionale (SIOI) - Naples - Course of preparation for competitive examinations for entry to the diplomatic service and for international functions

(http://www.promete.it/sioicampania/corsi.html)

This course is provided under the patronage of the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose is to provide basic training in international law, international politics, the history of international relations and European integration, international economics, economics, and the law and organization of the European Union, for young graduates and those about to graduate who wish to broaden their familiarity with international relations. The subjects include language tuition (English and French). The course also provides and in depth examination of the international trade issues connected with the increasing internationalization of the markets and efforts to establish new relations between the industrial countries and the developing countries.

The University of Bologna - International Studies Association "Bartolo di Sassoferrato"

Bologna University - Faculty of Political Science

Master in International Relations

(http://www.spbo.unibo.it/bologna/index.html)

Bologna University and the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organize a one-year postgraduate course leading to the degree of Master in International Relations lasting for graduates wishing to embark on a diplomatic career, or careers in international agencies, NGOs and companies operating abroad.

The Master's course lasts twenty-eight weeks, totalling over 400 hours of tuition.

Padua University - Course leading to the degree of Master for the diplomatic career and international functions

(http://www.dsi.unipd.it/corsi/c6.html)

The Department of International Studies, in conjunction with the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is organizing the 16th course in preparation for the competitive entrance examination to the diplomatic service and the course in preparation for international careers, leading to a Master's degree.

The course for the Master's degree includes tuition and exercises in the subjects on which the candidate for the diplomatic career and for international careers will be examined, namely, modern and contemporary history, international politics, public international law, international organizations, political economics and economic policy, international economics, English and French.

Istituto Universitario di Studi Europei (IUSE) - Turin - Preparation course for the diplomatic career and for international careers

(http://www.arpnet.it/iuse/cd.htm)

This course is organized by the Istituto Universitario di Studi Europei in Turin in conjunction with SocietÓ Italiana per l'Organizzazione Internazionale, Turin section, and the ILO International Training Centre.

It includes tuition and exercises in the subjects on which candidates will be examined in writing for entrance to the diplomatic career and more in general subjects of interest in relation to access to an international career.

It is run at the ILO International Training Centre.

Libera UniversitÓ Internazionale degli Studi Sociali (LUISS) - Rome - Course in preparation for admission to the diplomatic service entrance examination

(http://www.luiss.it/formazione/index.htm)

This is a one-year course organized by the Faculty of Political Science in conjunction with the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It addressed all the subjects of the written examination for entry to to the diplomatic career. Attendance is compulsory.

Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI) - Milan

(http://www.ispinet.it)

This course is designed for young graduates wishing to work in an international environment at Italian Offices abroad or with international organizations and agencies. In addition to lectures and lessons on the subjects on which the candidate is to be examined, the course participants also attend seminars and thematic lectures given by distinguished visiting professors and experts from international organizations to integrate, supplement and reinforce the training and knowledge acquired in the classroom.

Provision is also made to attend meetings, Round Tables, debates and conferences organized by the Institute.