The following is a must-share for those of you naive enough to believe that we live in a meritocracy. Which is, incidentally, what is implied when one lays down the conditions for concours or recruitment competitions as an 'equal opportunity employer'. And yet, and yet. All is not as it seems on paper.
I'm not going to go so far as to say these things are totally fixed - sometimes someone, somewhere, with no backing apart from their own CV slips through the net. But most of the time, the preferred candidate is lined up before the first outside applications have been sifted through and the selected few flown to Brussels at their own expense for what, essentially, constitutes a sham interview. Which is ironic considering that 'transparency' and 'accountability' are the watchwords of the day.
Now this is partially the fault of an inflexible recruitment system which mirrors that of the civil service - and thus fails to meet the needs of a political institution which wishes to employ people loyal to certain party principles or members. So I can see how a number of potential recruits could fall by the wayside simply by having no obvious connection to political life.
However sometimes it gets ridiculous. Like when you want to promote someone. Of course, this being European bureaucracy, you can't just reward someone with more money or a higher grade for doing a good job. That's why permanent staff can spend the best part of their working day out to lunch with no negative consequences. You have to find them a better position as and when one becomes available.
Which explains why an advert to recruit someone on 'equal opportunities grounds' appeared one day on a website, more or less specifying the height, weight and culinary preferences of the guy the unit in question wanted to promote.
I feel sorry for those who waste their time and energy applying for these things from outside.