Brussels , Belgium
March , 12/2013


Martin Westlake the Secretary General inaugurating a new device

On this picture : Martin Westlake


©EU2013The EESC’s administration is constantly striving to do things better. Readers of this blog will know that we are making concerted efforts to use less paper, the bane of any bureaucratic life. Today, at the invitation of our human resources director, Gianluca Brunetti, and his team, I was invited to push a button and thus usher in a small revolution. I should explain that every official in the EU institutions has a personal file. It is a sort of obligation under the staff regulations. Into that file goes everything to do with the professional life of the individual concerned, from that first job application through to retirement documentation and, until now, the files have been entirely paper-based. Not any more. Gianluca and his colleagues have launched a programme to scan and convert all of those paper files into electronic files and today I was given the honour of launching the scanning process with regard to the first file so to be converted – my own. In no time at all the machine had gobbled up my papers and, one after another, they appeared momentarily on the screen. We’re talking ancient history here: a rapport de stage from 1985; my first ever personal file (at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg) from the same year; my first ever EU job (at the Council); my first staff report; and so on. They say that a drowning man sees his life flash before him. Well, I wasn’t drowning, of course, but I did see my whole professional career flash before me and it was an interesting sensation. Nothing is more cruel than a rapid succession of photographs over the years, and there they all were (since you had to append a passport-sized photograph to documents in the good old bad old days). In the illustration I have found an old photograph showing me with considerably more hair and considerably less wrinkles! It was altogether an interesting experience and, from the professional point of view, a thoroughly satisfying one. Until now, consulting your personal file meant a trek to the dusty archives. Henceforth colleagues will be able to access their files without moving from their work stations. And all those dusty paper files and the space they occupy will gradually disappear.