Wednesday, 18 May 2011

David O´Sullivan - The life of a top EU bureaucrat

David O´Sullivan, the Irish born Chief Operating Officer of  the European External Action Service, is the quintessential succesful EU bureaucrat:

  • Director General for Trade, European Commission, 2005-2010
  • Secretary General of the European Commission, 2000-2005
  • Head of Cabinet of Romando Prodi, President of the European Commission, 1999-2000
  • Director-General DGXXII - Educations, Training and Youth, 0271999-05/1999
  • Director DGV/G Employment and Social Affairs - responsible for the management of resources, 1998-1999
  • Director DG V/B Employment and Social Affairs - responsible for policy coordination, the European Social Fund, 1996-1998
  • Member - and from December 1994 - Deputy Head of Cabinet to Commissioner Padraig Flynn responsible for employment policy, the social dialogue and labour law, 1993-1996
  • Head of Unit, Task force for Human Resources, Education, Youth and Training (Now DG EAC) responsible for the COMETT and TEMPUS programmes, and coordination of training assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, 1989-1992
  • Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Peter Sutherland, responsible for Social Affairs and Relations with the European Parliament, 1985-1989
  • First Secretary (Economic and Commercial), Delegation of the European Commission in Japan, 1981-1985
  • European Commission, Brussels (Directorate General for External Relations), 1979-1981
No wonder, that Mr. O´Sullivan has had a remarkable EU career. He appears to be an intelligent, soft speaking official, who after more than 30 years as an EU bureaucrat never fails to toe the official line - and above all, never publicly expresses any personal views about anything of importance. And never, ever says a critical word about his bosses. Those are some of the essential qualities necessary for reaching the top posts in the massive EU hieararchy. If you are prepared to sacrify your own freedom of action in this way, the reward is a Brussels life in luxury and retirement benefits that few people can even dream of. (Just as an example: Right now, there are 150 Latvians working in the EU Commission, who earn 50% more than their Prime Minister!).

The problem with the eurocrats is, that they live a priveleged life in a closed Brussels elite society, without contacts with the real world of ordinary people. Many of the more honest eurocrats even think that they actually are doing something useful - a feeling that makes it easier for them to pretend that they actually deserve all the extraordinary benefits.

Here are some of the "highlights" of the EU´Observer´s interview" with O´Sullivan:

"At the end of the day, it's the member states that decide whether they want to speak with one voice, and there are moments when there are divergences,"

"The high representative has difficulty expressing a common European view if one doesn't exist."

"It is our hope that the service will facilitate this process … we cannot at the end of the day change fundamental disagreements between member states," he said.

Mr. O´Sullivans answers are, of course, an easy way to reply to the critics of the unnecessary and wasteful new External Action Service: Blame the failure on unspecified member countries, and then just go on expanding the "service" there is no real need for. The most urgent matter for this bureaucrat is now, how to organise the move of his 1500 fellow bureacrats to a brand new building - with room for an even larger number of  well paid colleagues in the near future ....

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