Code of conduct
The European Training Foundation is committed to providing a high quality service to its clients and to the public. It follows a Code of Good Administrative Behaviour which sets the standards expected of its staff in dealing with members of the public. You will find below the provisions of this Code.
If you feel that the European Training Foundation has not complied with this Code and you wish to make a formal complaint to the Director, please use the complaint form. The ETF will take note of your complaint in order to improve its service, and will respond to you in writing.
CODE OF GOOD ADMINSTRATIVE BEHAVIOUR FOR STAFF OF THE EUROPEAN TRAINING FOUNDATION IN THEIR RELATIONS WITH THE PUBLIC
The ETF and its staff have a duty to serve the Community interest and, in so doing, the public interest. The public legitimately expects quality service and an administration that is open, accessible and properly run. Quality service calls for the ETF and its staff to be courteous, objective and impartial.
In order to enable the ETF to meet its obligations of good administrative behaviour and in particular in the dealings that the ETF has with the public, the ETF undertakes to observe the standards of good administrative behaviour set out in this Code and to be guided by these in its daily work.
The Code is binding on all staff covered by the Staff Regulations of officials of the European Communities and the conditions of employment of other servants of the European Communities(hereinafter: the "Staff Regulations") and the other provisions on relations between the ETF and its staff that are applicable to officials and other servants of the European Communities. However, persons employed under private law contracts, experts on secondment from national civil services and trainees, etc. working for the Foundation should also be guided by it in their daily work.
Relations between the ETF and its staff are governed exclusively by the Staff Regulations.
1. General principles of good administration
The ETF respects the following general principles in its relations with the public.
The ETF acts in accordance with the law and applies the rules and procedures laid down in Community legislation.
Non-discrimination and equal treatment
The ETF respects the principle of non-discrimination and in particular, guarantees equal treatment for members of the public irrespective of nationality, gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation. Thus, differences in treatment of similar cases must be specifically warranted by the relevant features of the particular case in hand.
The ETF ensures that the measures taken are proportional to the aim pursued.
In particular, the ETF will ensure that the application of this Code never leads to the imposition of administrative or budgetary burdens out of proportion to the benefit expected.
The ETF shall be consistent in its administrative behaviour and shall follow its normal practice. Any exceptions to this principle must be duly justified.
2. Guidelines for good administrative behaviour
Objectivity and impartiality
Staff shall always act objectively and impartially, in the Community interest and for the public good. They shall act independently within the framework of the policy fixed by the ETF and their conduct shall never be guided by personal or national interest or political pressure.
Information on administrative procedures
Where a member of the public requires information relating to a ETF administrative procedure, staff shall ensure that this information is provided within the deadline fixed for the relevant procedure.
3. Information on the rights of interested parties
Listening to all parties with a direct interest
Where Community law provides that interested parties should be heard, staff shall ensure that an opportunity is given to them to make their views known.
Duty to justify decisions
An ETF decision should clearly state the reasons on which it is based and should be communicated to the persons and parties concerned.
As a general rule, full justification for decisions should be given. However, where it may not be possible, for example because of the large number of persons concerned by similar decisions, to communicate in detail the grounds of individual decisions, standard replies may be given. These standard replies should include the principal reasons justifying the decision taken. Furthermore, an interested party who expressly requests a detailed justification shall be provided with it.
Duty to state arrangements for appeals
Where Community law so provides, decisions notified shall clearly state that an appeal is possible and describe how to submit it (the name and office address of the person or department with whom the appeal must be lodged and the deadline for lodging it).
Where appropriate, decisions should refer to the possibility of starting judicial proceedings and/or of lodging a complaint with the European Ombudsman in accordance with Article 230 or 195 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.
4. Dealing with enquiries
The ETF undertakes to answer enquiries in the most appropriate manner and as quickly as possible.
Requests for documents
If a document has already been published, the person making the enquiry should be directed to the sales agents of the Publications Office of the European Communities or to the documentation or information centres which provide free access to documents, such as Info-points, European documentation centres, etc. Many documents are also easily accessible in electronic form.
The rules on access to documents are laid down in a specific measure.
In accordance with Article 21 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, but taking into account the principle of proportionality, the ETF shall reply to letters in the language of the initial letter, provided that it was written in one of the official languages of the Community.
A reply to a letter addressed to the ETF shall be sent within fifteen working days from the date of receipt of the letter by the responsible ETF department. The reply should identify the person responsible for the matter and state how he or she may be contacted.
If a reply cannot be sent within fifteen working days, and in all cases where the reply requires other work on it, such as interdepartmental consultation or translation, the member of staff responsible should send a holding reply, indicating a date by which the addressee may expect to be sent a reply in the light of this additional work, taking into account the relative urgency and complexity of the matter.
If the reply is to be drawn up by a department other than the one to which the initial correspondence is addressed, the person making the enquiry should be informed of the name and office address of the person to whom the letter has been passed.
These rules do not apply to correspondence which can reasonably be regarded as improper, for example, because it is repetitive, abusive and/or pointless. Then the ETF reserves the right to discontinue any such exchanges of correspondence.
When answering the telephone, staff shall identify themselves or their department. They shall return telephone calls as promptly as possible.
Staff replying to enquiries shall provide information on subjects for which they have direct responsibility and should direct the caller to the specific appropriate source in other cases. If necessary, they should refer callers to their superior or consult him or her before giving the information.
Where enquiries concern areas for which staff are directly responsible, they shall establish the identity of the caller and check whether the information has already been made public before giving it out. If this is not the case, the member of staff may consider that it is not in the Community interest for the information to be disclosed. In this case he or she should explain why they are unable to disclose it and refer in appropriate cases to the obligation to exercise discretion as laid down in Article 17 of the Staff Regulations.
When appropriate, staff should request confirmation in writing of the enquiries made by telephone.
Staff shall reply to e-mail messages promptly following the guidelines described in the section on telephone communication.
However, where the e-mail message is, by its nature, the equivalent of a letter, it shall be handled according to the guidelines for handling correspondence and shall be subject to the same deadlines.
Requests from the media
The External Communication Unit is responsible for contacts with the media. However, when requests for information concern technical subjects falling within their specific areas of responsibility, staff may answer them.
5. Protection of personal data and confidential information
The ETF and its staff shall respect, in particular:
- the rules on the protection of personal privacy and personal data;
- the obligations set out in Article 287 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and in particular those which relate to professional secrecy;
- the rules on secrecy in criminal investigations;
- the confidentiality of matters falling within the ambit of the various committees and bodies provided for in Article 9 and Annexes II and III of the Staff Regulations.
The European Training Foundation
Complaints may be lodged concerning a possible breach of the principles set out in this Code directly with the Director of the European Training Foundation, which shall forward it to the relevant department.
The Director or Head of Department shall reply to the complainant in writing, within two months. The complainant then has one month in which to apply to the Director of the European Training Foundation to review the outcome of the complaint. The Director shall reply to the request for a review within one month.
The European Ombudsman
Complaints may also be lodged with the European Ombudsman in accordance with Article 195 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and the Statute of the European Ombudsman.