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Becoming a Seconded National Expert

If you are working in the public administration in Greece or in any other EU Member State, you have the opportunity to be seconded to an EU Institution or Agency.

This is a How-To guide for becoming an SNE, when you are working for the Greek Public Administration. The procedures that have to be followed and the permits that have to be obtained by a candidate are documented. While some of them apply to a candidate from any Member State, the particularities of the Greek Public Administration are followed and explained.

Besides of a guide for candidates, this post aims to be an incentive for the Greek Government to simplify this rather complex and time consuming procedure.

Resources: EU's official site for Seconded National Experts, Secondment Rules.

Qualifications and experience required

You must have at least three years work experience at an appropriate level and your employer will need to supply the Commission with a statement of the nature of your employment over the previous year. You should have a satisfactory knowledge of a second Community language in addition to your native language. The EU institution or the Agency that offers the post, usually takes geographical and gender balance into account when considering Seconded National Experts.

Additionally to these requirements, for each post, specific selection criteria will apply. These selection criteria can be a University degree and experience on specific professional areas.

The application procedure

The Seconded National Experts are recruited from EU countries via their Permanent Representations to the EU. The Greek Permanent Representation forwards these requests to the Ministry of Interiors, General Secreteriat of Public Administration. Usually, each month a document is posted with the open calls and adequate time is given for applicants. You can obtain this document from the secretariat's page. Most of the Agencies and Institutions also post the vacancies in their web sites.

You must then complete a European CV, preferably in English, and forward it to the Greek Permanent Representation, Mrs. V. Skalistira, by both mail ( and fax (003225515619). Pay attention in filling in the field of "DESIRED EMPLOYMENT / OCCUPATIONAL FIELD". Several Agencies and Institutions require that you also submit a custom made application form and / or a motivation letter. You should obtain this form from  their web site.

At some point in time, the General Secretariat of Public Administration, required that you submitted these applications through your employer, so that he is aware of your actions. This, of course, can create problems with your career development inside your organisation, specially when this has to happen in such an early stage. While this is not currently the case, it might return in the future.

Selection Procedure

The applications from the permanent representations of all EU member states, will end up at the Human Resources section of the Agency or the Directorate General (DG) of the vacancy. There, a (three person)  selection committee will be appointed. You are not allowed to contact any member of this committee.

The work flow for the committee is the following:

  • They create a list of about 10 candidates to be interviewed, based on their CV's, Applications and Motivation Letters;
  • Conduct the interviews and assess the candidates;
  • Propose to the director of the agency or the DG a short list of successful candidates.

When you are called for an interview, you will be asked to provide supporting documents to your CV. Also, you have to prepare yourself about the Agency or Unit of the vacancy, it's operation and mandate and the requested expertise. The interview will be held in the working language of the post. During the interview you should expect detailed questions about those subjects as well as a written exam to both assess your knowledge and your drafting skills. Also, any knowledge of third languages will be assessed.

Appointment Procedure

If you made it to the short list of the successful candidates, you might be selected by the director of the Agency or the DG, to be seconded to their service. This will happen through a letter from the agency or DG to your employer through the Greek Permanent Representation, mentioning a starting date usually one month ahead. Your employer should reply to this letter by appointing you or declining the request. While most of the Member States of the EU are more than willing to have public servants of their country seconded to the EU, Greece makes the procedure very painful and time consuming. While in Greece you need approximately 4 months to get the approval for the secondment, in other EU countries this takes 15 days. Where in the case of declining, there might never be a response, which of course is rude.

According to the article 7 of the Greek Law 3320/2005 (FEK 48/A) the following procedure has to be applied:

  1. You should send a request petition to your employer's Human Resources Department  in addition to the letter from the Greek Permanent Representation.
  2. The documents are forwarded to the staff committee that has to give its approval. The staff committees usually convene once a month.
  3. On the positive outcome, the decision for the secondment is scribed and forwarded for approvals through the chain of hierarchy up to the level of the minister, if you are a national public servant. This can take from 10 to 20 days.
  4. If nobody stops the procedure (and the invent numerous ways to at least lag it), the decision returns to the HR. Then they have to forward it to two other ministries to obtain the approval of the minister of interiors and the minister of economics. This can only happen in sequence and not in parallel.
  5. For the ministry of interior, your HR has to forward the decision to the ministries "Human Resources Directorate, Changes Department (Δ/νση Διοίκησης Ανθρώπινου Δυναμικού, Τμήμα μεταβολών)", Vasilis Sofias 15, Athens.
  6. The decision will get approvals of the chain of hierarchy up to the vice-minister of interiors. This can take from 10 to 20 days. If the hierarchy discovers problems in the preparation of the document, they will return it for edits back to the HR of your ministry. Of course, this adds time. Generally speaking, you should not have any problems obtaining the authorisation from the ministry of interiors.
  7. The decision is returned to your ministries HR department to be then forwarded to the ministry of economics.
  8. Fo the ministry of economics, your HR has to forward the decision to the "General Accounting Office, Directorate D21, Section C (Γενικό Λογιστήριο του Κράτου, Διευθύνση Δ21, Τμήμα Γ)", Panepistimiou 37, Athens.
  9. Again, the same procedure as in step six (6) is applied. The vice-minister is again the one that authorises.
  10. The decision is returned to your ministries HR department, where they should put through the decision and forward it to the agency or the DG through the Greek Permanent Representation. This will also take 10 days.

This procedure can be slightly different if you are an regional or local civil servant or a servant in a authority or organisation that is either independent (e.x. Data Protection Authority) or loosely related to the public administration (e.x. Managing Authority of the Operational Program). This means that you might need the authorisation of more or less roles.

When, the letter is received by the Agency or DG, they will officially ask you for a new staring date. Before you start your secondment, they will ask you to provide several documents:

  • A letter from your social security, that you will remain under the social security and pension schemes provided by the Greek public administration.
  • A certificate of permanent residence that you have to obtain from your Municipality.
  • Forms that have to be filled and signed from you and your employer.

Please note that the duration of the secondment, as will be noted in the decision that you will obtain by your employer will by backdated. Meaning that it would have started before the date that the decision is issued or forwarded to the Greek Permanent Representation. This means that your secondment time will be effectively shorter than you expected.

Please provide me with your feedback on the procedures that were followed for your cases, so I can amend and correct the document.

Events that might hinder your secondment

In the (likely) event where an election procedure happens to take place during the period that the decision for your secondment is being processed. The procedure has to be paused and resumed after the elections.

In the (also likely) event where one of the three authorising ministers changes having signed the authorisation, the new minister taking office has to re-authorise it.


Its is obvious that the procedure followed by the Greek Administration is inefficient. Thus, the relevant law should change. Specifically, as this law applies to seconding Greek Public Servants to all International Organisations where Greece participates and given the fact that Greece as all other EU member states wants to have Greek public Servants Seconded to EU Agencies and Institutions, a new simple procedure has to be applied for this case. This has to be amended either by law or as a clarification to this law.

This procedure for secondment to an EU Agency or institution, where the Agency or Institution pays all the foreseen allowances :

  • Should require only the endorsement of the Staff committee of your organisation
  • and the authorisation should be given by the General Directorate for Human Resources.

Please, give me your feedback on the feasibility of such a procedure.

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. How to become an SNE really???

  2. κ. Σαραγιώτη, λίγες ερωτήσεις που δεν καλύπτονται από το παραπάνω (πολύ διαφωτιστικό) κείμενο:

    1. Συνήθως πόσοι είναι οι υποψήφιοι ανά κενή θέση από όλη την Ευρώπη ( και από την Ελλάδα αν γνωρίζετε) κατά Μ.Ο. ?
    2. Σε πόσες μέρες περίπου σε καλούν για συνέντευξη μετά το πέρας της υποβολής αιτήσεων?
    3. Σε περίπτωση που σε καλέσουν για συνέντευξη, πληρώνουν τα έξοδα μετάβασης και διαμονής?
    4. Η αποζημίωση που παίρνει ένας εμπειρογνώμονας επαρκεί για τη συντήρηση μιας 4μελούς οικογένειας στις Βρυξέλλες?

    Ευχαριστώ πολύ

  3. @miltos
    1. I can’t really tell how many the candidates will be. It depends on the place of secondment, the duties involved as well as the required qualifications.
    2. The time that the selection procedure will take depends on the agency’s or institution’s HR unit, their efficiency and work load as well as other factors.
    3. You will receive a reimbursement on your travel expenses. The reimbursement is subject to specific rules. Generally you will receive the expenses for an air ticket (if you are traveling from Greece to Brussels) and the expenses for an overnight stay at a hotel (no more than 100 euro).
    4. The allowance you will receive will be more than enough for a comfortable living for a 4 member family in Brussels.

  4. Χαίρετε,
    υπάρχει κάπου αναφορά στο πόσες ημέρες ΠΡΙΝ τη συνέντευξη πρέπει να ενημερωθεί ο υποψήφιος? Δηλαδή υπάρχει κάποια διορία? Ή μπορεί να ενημερωθεί και (πχ) μόλις 5-10 μέρες πριν?

  5. As far as I can recall, there is no provision for the notification time in advance to an interview. The time would be sufficient and there is always room for flexibility. Also keep in mind that the travel expenses are reimbursed.

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