Groucho Marx

    I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

    Groucho Marx

Well, what has that quote got to do with the European Commission’s selection process, the famous concours? It’s the first time I have written about the concours here but I am indeed one of the 20000 or so people to have made an application for the entry level administrator concours, the first to be held since 1998. As I sit here in London writing this blog entry, there are probably plenty of young Europeans beavering away learning the text of the Treaty of Rome by heart so they can obtain the job of their dreams: to be a bureaucrat in the European Commission!

But hang on… What are the questions like? Read on, and you’ll understand the Groucho Marx quote.

Take this example question from the documents on the European Personnel Selection Office’s website – should be typical of the questions applicants would be asked:

    50. According to Eurostat figures for 1997, the European Union produces more than 50% of world production of one of the following agricultural products. Which one?
    a) cereals
    b) milk
    c) meat
    d) wine

For your information, the answer is d), but such a question prompts a further one: why the hell is it useful to know the answer to this question? Simple regurgitation of facts is no good to anyone – you would always check such things in a book. Yet the Commission wants its new intake to be able to know this sort of stuff. What about the capability of managing people, or really understanding political processes?

So you have to ask yourself, if I could learn all of those facts and the Commission hence would accept me into its club, would I actually want to join such a body? So Groucho’s quote is maybe not so wrong after all…

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