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Sharing best practices and striving for excellence: the third EC-UN Seminar
24 November 2008 / 12:20

[Dateline:New York | Author: Department of Management]

Claude Chêne, Director-General for Administration of the European Commission and Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management for the United Nations, meeting at Headquarters during the third EC-UN Seminar | Credit: iSeek/Fred FathIs there anything in common between the European Commission (EC) and the United Nations? Can these two organizations learn from each other?   A resounding “Yes” was the answer that emerged when for one day, on 18 November, managers and staff from the EC and the UN met at UN Headquarters to share best practices. 

Discussions centered around how to improve efficiency and effectiveness in six areas: simplification of processes, tests and examinations, ethics, investigations, procurement, and security.

This was the third EC-UN seminar, entitled “Reinforcing EU-UN Active Partnership through Administrative Cooperation.” 

The delegation from Brussels consisted of 15 managers from the EC led by Mr. Claude Chêne, Director-General for Administration and Ms. Irene Souka, Deputy Director-General. They were welcomed by the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Management, Ms. Angela Kane, and a team of UN staff from the Department of Management (DM), Department of Safety and Security (DSS), Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and the Ethics Offices of the UN and the Funds and Programmes.

Participants at the third EC-UN seminar, entitled “Reinforcing EU-UN Active Partnership through Administrative Cooperation,” held at Headquarters on 18 November 2008. (Credit: iSeek / Fred Fath)Designed as an information-sharing platform in the field of administration and management, the EC-UN seminar allows both organizations to learn from their respective experiences, and share what works and what doesn’t. 

The idea originated in May 2006, when the Vice-President of the EC visited the United Nations and met with the Deputy Secretary-General. In their discussions, the two officials realized how much there was in common between the UN and the EC. Both organizations recruit multinational staff and manage multimillion budgets. They face similar challenges, risks and increasing expectations from their respective constituencies on managing their resources effectively and efficiently, and they both have undergone reform processes. 

In October 2006, the EC and the UN agreed to formally exchange information and experience on administrative best practices. From that day, many initiatives have been undertaken in the context of this cooperation, such as seminars, training, sharing of information, and official visits. The goal is always the same: continue to look for best practices and strive for excellence.

Mr. Chêne and Ms. Kane agreed to explore new ways of cooperation, including joint training and staff exchanges. They also discussed sharing best practices and information with the African Union (AU). (The EC recently signed a similar cooperation agreement with the AU.)

The next seminar will be hosted by the EC in Brussels next year. It will be another opportunity to learn from each other and exchange best practices in new areas. Some topics have already been identified: greening initiatives, career development and mobility, work-life balance, crisis management and business process improvements.