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Inspection of Canada's Mission to the European Union Brussels

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(June 2008)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An inspection of Canada’s Mission to the European Union (EU) was conducted in Brussels from March 3 to 8, 2008. The Inspection covered departmental programs and the support provided to the eight partner departments present at the Mission. The EU is increasingly becoming the centre of decision-making in Europe and a key trade, economic, foreign policy and security partner for Canada. As Canada is not a member of the EU, the Mission is faced with permanent challenges related to accessing information and decision makers. The Mission represents the Government’s interests to European Institutions and member states to further global and regional objectives. The Mission also serves as a policy, program and advisory hub between Canadian missions in EU member states and Ottawa, including partner departments.

Overall, the Mission is *** managed. The Head of Mission (HOM) and the Deputy (DHOM) play complementary roles, providing leadership to the all programs. Three retreats have taken place to improve communication and ensure program alignment with Government priorities. This has reinforced a *** team spirit and overall inter-program cooperation. The Mission emphasizes a whole of Government approach and all programs are *** integrated and working together to further Canada’s interests in the EU. The committees in place and weekly all staff meetings ensure an effective flow of information and that all staff are informed of key decisions and events. The implementation of six and three month planning templates for all programs facilitates a coherent and pro-active approach to priorities.

The *** bilateral mission to Belgium provides all administrative services to the Mission to the EU and partial services to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. To facilitate cooperation, and provide a forum for joint planning and decision making, the three Heads of Missions in Brussels should meet regularly to discuss common issues. As the common administrative support structure evolves, this will provide an important mechanism to monitor, discuss and improve the provision of support to all three missions.

The Trade and Economic Policy and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment programs play a *** role in advancing Canada’s interests within the EU and its member states. The programs receive support from the HOM and DHOM and have built an *** network of contacts in Brussels. The programs also play a leadership role with other Canadian missions in Europe on matters of policy and regulations, as well as providing training to new officers on how to work within the EU. There are great opportunities for innovation and science within the EU, but the Mission may not be in a position to fully promote Canadian interests, given the current resource allocation.

The Political Program is working to advance Canada's global issues agenda through cooperation with the EU in the areas of promoting democracy, human rights, development and combatting terrorism. A recent reorganization of files has brought increased balance to workloads and will provide a better foundation upon which to address key priorities. The incorporation of the public affairs officer into the Program should prove beneficial and could provide the opportunity to allocate management responsibilities to the senior Canada-based officer. A key challenge for the Program Manager in the coming months is to address ***.

Partner Departments

There is a need to revisit the Mission’s structure as it pertains to the presence of partner department representatives. In some cases, such as development and police liaison, the Mission feels that an increased partner department presence is required. In other cases, overfilling of positions by partner departments has lead to make-shift changes in support frameworks. As both Headquarters (HQ) and the Mission predict an increased partner department presence, there will be a need for a closer review of position levels and support structures.

Concerns were also raised by partner department officers as to the ability of the Department to effectively prepare them for a posting overseas. As the Department begins to see greater flow of partner department staff into its missions abroad, the ability to effectively prepare and integrate these individuals will be of increasing importance. The Department should explore lessons learned from the implementation of the Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI) to determine what, if any, mechanisms could be utilized to improve the posting process for partner department officers going to missions outside the United States.

A total of nine recommendations are raised in the report; six are addressed to the Mission and three are addressed to Headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the nine recommendations, management has stated that three have been implemented. For each of the remaining six recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Canadian Mission to the European Union (EU) is led by a Head of Mission (HOM) and Deputy (DHOM) who play complementary roles and provide ***, whole of government, leadership to all Mission programs. The HOM has *** Canada’s interests and increased visibility in the EU. The Mission has *** from the HOM’s outreach with the European Institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament and Independent Agencies), EU Member State representatives, think tanks and like-minded missions. Programs have also *** from a DHOM ***, important for providing support and guidance to the Trade and Economic Policy and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment programs in particular. They are supported by a *** management team, and staff that work cooperatively to achieve Mission objectives. Administrative support for Mission operations is provided by the *** bilateral mission to Belgium. Recommendations related to this function are contained in the inspection report for the bilateral mission.

1.1.2 The Mission has a good planning process in place, with the Country Strategy providing the overall framework within which program plans are developed. Building upon this, the HOM and DHOM initiated six month and, more recently, three month workplans for program staff as a means to set a course for short-term objectives. The development of the workplans has been seen as an effective practice, providing the opportunity to refocus efforts on core objectives. By incorporating planned hospitality activities, the Mission is able to clearly link the use of hospitality resources to program priorities. The Mission has a sound committee structure in place that, coupled with an weekly all-staff meeting, provides for effective and efficient communication amongst all programs.

1.1.3 Employee Performance Management Plans (PMPs) have been completed and the Mission has been proactive in developing learning plans. At the time of the Inspection, however, funding had not yet been allocated to training. The Mission should ensure that staff are provided the opportunity to implement their learning plans through the establishment of an annual training budget that is set by the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) and monitored periodically throughout the year.

1.1.4 Hospitality budgets have been devolved to programs, along with Section 34 responsibility. This serves to empower managers and improve their accountability for the effective use of resources. Hospitality expenditures were found to be properly documented. In general, the purpose, objectives and evaluations of events were properly completed. There was still room in some cases for improvement by more clearly communicating the value of the event and through increased leveraging of local contacts.

1.1.5 The Mission intends to decentralize travel budgets in fiscal year 2008-09, based on the initial year's experience. Given the importance of working with EU member states, outreach will need to be strengthened in order to allow the Mission to effectively support their colleagues at other missions in high-level meetings where policy and technical expertise are required.

1.1.6 The EU is taking on an increasingly central decision making role and, as such, Brussels is becoming an increasingly important player in Europe. The evolution of this role and the expansion of EU institutions will impact the Mission’s roles and responsibilities, resources and partner department presence.

Recommendation to the Mission

1.1.7 The Mission should ensure that a training budget is established and monitored by the CMM.

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.1.7 The Mission has completed learning plans for all staff, Canada Based Staff (CBS) and Locally-engaged staff LES, that were included in Performance Management Agents (PMAs) and PMPs. CBS officers are encouraged to make use of the $2,000 CFSI allocation to which they are entitled. Once reference levels for year 2008-09 are received, the CMM will be in a better position to allocate funding. A Training Committee has been established to overview training activities and funding.

1.2 Partner Departments

1.2.1 The Mission also has significant representation from partner departments, including Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Health Canada (HC), Finance Canada, Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), the Department of Justice, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The Mission places a high degree of emphasis on a ‘Whole of Government’ approach and all programs work *** to further Canada’s interests in the EU.

1.2.2 The level of partner department positions vary, but the majority are at the FS-02 level. A number of these positions, however, have been over-staffed with EX-equivalents. This has impacted the level of support desired as a higher degree of emphasis is placed on analytical, rather than administrative support. Over the years this has lead to scenarios where resources are shared between programs, or where full-time LE-05 positions have been converted into part-time LE-07 analyst positions. In the latter case, an LE-07 could spend significant time on administrative tasks. This impacts job satisfaction and performance, as well as perceived job equality among LES officers and assistants.

1.2.3 In the case of the LE-05 to LE-07 conversions, there is a need to review the history of positions EXT-401555x and EXT-403377x to ensure that the reclassifications were conducted in line with the Framework for Planning and Managing Change in Missions Abroad. In the event that they were not, the Representation Abroad Secretariat (APD) should take the necessary administrative actions. APD should also take this opportunity to remind partner departments of the impacts of overfilling positions abroad. In the event that partner departments identify that positions are indeed under-classified, the necessary consultations with APD and follow-up actions should take place.

1.2.4 In line with the growing and changing role of the EU, both Headquarters (HQ) and the Mission predict an increase in partner department presence at the Mission. It will be important for the Mission to have the right partner departments present, at the right levels, and with the required support framework in place. This is not a BREU centric issue, however, and it is anticipated that it will be addressed as a part of a broader effort to increase the partner department presence abroad.

1.2.5 Concerns were also raised by some partner department officers as to the ability of the Department to effectively prepare them for a posting overseas. As the Department begins to see a greater flow of partner department staff into its missions abroad, the ability to effectively prepare and integrate these individuals will be of increasing importance. Such challenges were encountered with the implementation of the Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI) in the United States, which saw an increase in partner department presence abroad. These challenges may have resulted in the development of tools to ease the transition of staff to an assignment abroad, and consultations should occur to determine whether or not any of those solutions could be applied to areas other than the United States, particularly multilateral missions.

Recommendations to the Representation Abroad Secretariat (APD)

1.2.6 APD, in consultation with the Mission and the Locally-engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD), should determine whether or not the Framework for Planning and Managing Change in Missions Abroad was properly applied in the reclassifications of positions EXT-401555x and EXT-403377x. Should the appropriate approvals not be in place, APD should take the required administrative actions.

1.2.7 APD should caution partner departments as to the impacts of over-filling positions abroad. If it is determined that position levels are insufficient, partner departments should work with APD to resolve the situation.

APD Actions and Timeframes

1.2.6 APD will review these two positions in June 2008 to determine if there were any official requests via CORA (Committee on Representation Abroad) to reclassify or if our old files make reference to the change of classification and then propose the appropriate remedial action.

1.2.7 We will caution other government departments and DFAIT programs at the Interdepartmental Working Group on Common Services Abroad (June 11, 2008) to ensure that they are making best efforts to assign Canada-based individuals to positions at the appropriate level to avoid over- and under-filling situations, thereby avoiding management issues at missions and the unfunded depletion of the FSD (Foreign Service Directives) budget pool.

Recommendation to Employee Services (AED)

1.2.8 AED should assess the current integration plan for first posting partner department officers to identify gaps and areas for improvement.

AED Action and Timeframe

1.2.8 AED intends to review the framework that defines the pre-posting administrative briefings and service needs of employees who are posted for the first time, of employees who have already been posted and of OGD employees. This process will include a client survey. The findings of the framework review and client survey will be used to modify current processes and establish new ones if needed in order to ensure that the Department provides the information and services that meet the needs of its clients. Anticipated completion date: July 2009.

Trade and Economic Policy

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Trade and Economic Policy Program is led by an EX-01 Counsellor who has been extended *** to prepare for the 2008 EU-Canada Summit in Montreal. The Program Manager (PM) is supported by four CBS officers and one LES assistant. The Section’s work is focussed primarily on trade and economic policy, regulatory issues and furthering Canada’s interests in the EU. A key priority is the development of the Canada-EU trade study, which is to be finalized before the next Canada-EU Summit. To achieve progress on their files, officers work closely with Headquarters, partner departments, provinces, private sector groups and Canadian missions in EU member states. Communication between these groups is working well.

2.2 Planning and Management

2.2.1 Considering the various stakeholders, interests and demands on the Section, the work can be very reactive to outside demands. Within this environment, managing a section of officers, each dedicated to files that require specific trade and economic policy expertise, can be challenging. A new forward planning initiative involving six-month horizon scans and the development of specific three month workplans, has been beneficial for all staff. Given the reactive nature of the work, this is a good initiative that should be maintained to ensure a continued focus on objectives.

2.2.2 The PM, CBS officers and the assistant are *** and work *** as a team. Internal communication facilitates operations and the PM’s *** meets the needs of staff. While formal meetings are infrequent, staff discuss their files with the PM on a daily basis. By all accounts, the PM has *** managed the various strategic demands placed on the Section.

2.2.3 Performance measurement in the trade policy environment is challenging. The Trade Policy Branch (TPC) is working to develop a performance measurement system to facilitate the process. In the meantime, the Mission should ensure that it is reviewing its performance on a regular basis to ensure that resources are being used in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

2.3 Science and Technology (ST)

2.3.1 The Mission plays an important role in furthering Canada’s innovation and ST interests in Europe. There is one CBS Officer, within the Trade and Economic Policy Program, responsible for analysing and reporting on the very complex innovation eco-system in the EU. The Officer *** and has taken a *** approach to carrying out her work. The Officer is in constant communications with HQ and partner departments and produces a bi-monthly report on key ST developments in Europe. They are, however, unable to allocate as much effort as they would like to identifying commercialization opportunities, a focus of the Department’s Innovation Strategy. This should be of concern as there are significant opportunities for Canadian business in ST, in particular the European Research Framework Program (FP).

2.3.2 Canadian participation in the FP has increased from 70 projects in 2004 to 108 projects in 2006. The total value of the projects is estimated at Euro 600 million, including Euro 16 million in contributions to projects by Canadian institutions. Many of the thematic areas of the 7th round of the FP dovetail with Canadian priorities and strengths, boding well for future Canadian participation. With limited human and financial resources, however, the full potential of this opportunity may not be realized.

2.3.3 Commercialization of research and development has recently been added to the EU's ST framework (of which FP7 is one element). To date the mandate of the ST Program at BREU has been on policy advocacy and promotion and dissemination of information on EU programs to private and public sector stakeholders in Canada. The Mission should re-examine with the Innovation and Partnership Bureau (BDP) whether the Program needs to place increased emphasis on commercialization of research, taking into account that the actual research efforts occur at the member state agencies. Should a re-direction of the Program be warranted, the Mission should examine with BDP and WME whether certain activities should be discontinued or increased resources brought to bear on the Program.

2.3.4 Potential does exist within the Program to realign existing human resources to meet this challenge. Approximately two years ago, the Department introduced a new position at the Mission dedicated to regulatory cooperation and market access issues. As most market access issues are related to agricultural products and are dealt with by the Mission’s Agriculture Section, the Officer only allocates approximately 50% of their time to their original mandate. The Officer’s role could be expanded to include a focus on small and medium business and innovation issues, better serving commercial opportunities in the context of the FP process.

2.3.5 From a financial perspective, the upcoming requirement for the Program to develop an International Business Development (IBD) Plan should provide access to the Department’s Client Service Fund (CSF) for outreach activities. This will provide an important source of funds for the pursuit of ST objectives as well as other program specific activities, including participation in multi-sector teams and regulatory outreach.

2.3.6 Even with additional resources, the list of possible taskings are virtually infinite and the Program would benefit from a clearer set of objectives. These should be developed in conjunction with BDP to facilitate the prioritization of activities. This being said, the Officer is very knowledgeable and has effectively promoted Canada’s ST and innovation interests in the EU.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.3.7 The Mission, in consultation with the World Markets - Europe, Middle East and Africa Bureau (WME) and BDP, should assess the job package of the Regulatory Issues and Business Liaison position and consider allocating some of the officer’s time to ST and innovation issues.

2.3.8 The Mission should consult with BDP to establish priorities for innovation and ST reporting in the EU. An active dialogue should be maintained to ensure reporting remains in-line with departmental priorities.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.3.7 The Mission will be initiating consultations shortly with WME and BDP on the job package for the Regulatory Issues position.

2.3.8 The Mission will be initiating consultations shortly with BDP on requirements for the ST position.

2.4 Organization

2.4.1 Two organizational issues were identified at the Mission for further consideration by HQ. Firstly, one of the officers in the Trade and Economic Policy Section is identified on the BRU organizational chart as allocating 10% of their time to bilateral trade issues. A review of the situation found that the officer should be fully allocated to the Mission to the EU.

2.4.2 The second refers to the Trade Promotion (TD) designation that is currently allocated to the Program. Given the multilateral policy work, one would expect the Program to have an Economic and Trade Policy (EC) designation. There is also a need to consider adjusting the reporting relationship for the Trade and Economic Policy Program to the Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch (TPC), rather than the Trade Geographic. Most of the Program’s tasking comes from this Branch and it would be a natural fit. If this were to occur, mechanisms may be needed to ensure that effective liaison with the Trade Global Operations Branch (WMM) continues.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.4.3 The Mission should submit a proposal to HQ to have the trade officer fully allocated to EU Trade and Economic Policy, removing the officers 10% allocation to bilateral issues at BRU.

2.4.4 Given the Program’s multilateral role, the Mission should consult with WMM and TPC to determine whether:

  • Reporting relationships should be transferred to the Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch from the Trade Geographic; and,
  • The current TD designation accurately reflects the Economic and Trade Policy focus of their work.
Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.4.3 This position is effectively 100% BREU and the organization charts have been amended accordingly.

2.4.4 The Mission has initiated consultations with TPC and WMM, including on the reporting relationship for the Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Program.

2.5 Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment

2.5.1 The Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Program is led by an EX-01 Counsellor, supported by officers from a number of departments and a LE-05 administrative assistant. A DFAIT FS-03 First Secretary is responsible for Environment and Fisheries issues; CFIA veterinarian (VM-4) dealing with veterinary issues and two officers from AAFC (ES-6 and a LE-9) dealing with general agriculture issues. Section meetings are held on a regular basis; PMAs are completed in a timely manner; short-term and medium-term work plans are developed for each officer; and an annual retreat is held to review files and ensure even distribution of workload.

2.6 Working with other Canadian Missions in Europe

2.6.1 The Trade and Economic Policy and Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Program are considered Canada’s centre of expertise in terms of EU matters. They also serve as policy, advocacy, and troubleshooting formulators and coordinators, expending considerable effort to support Canadian missions in the EU. For example, the Mission provides an introductory course on the EU (EU101), ST newsletters, a compendium of agriculture rules and regulations, web-seminars on select topics, as well as various watch and brief reports. In addition, officers are involved in each of the five European multi-market sector teams, presenting an excellent opportunity to inform missions on the implications of EU regulations. This activity enables the programs to refine their advocacy strategies related to specific Canadian commercial interests in Europe, including in agriculture and fisheries.

2.6.2 In order to assess the extent of the Program’s pan-European role, a survey of 20 Canadian missions in the EU was conducted. A 65% response rate was realized and feedback was positive, noting the quality and timeliness of information and responses received. Above all, missions highlighted the ‘EU 101' presentations provided to incoming CBS that work in European member states. These presentations effectively improve officer’s understanding of how the EU functions, as well as provide an opportunity to establish relationships with colleagues in Europe.

2.6.3 The survey also identified a few areas for improvement, generally representing opportunities to make the relationship even stronger. The most common areas identified for improvement were in information provided on multi-sector teams working in the region as well as information on specific issues of interest to various posts. In addition, missions identified a need for Program officers to travel more frequently to their posts to further their advocacy strategies with member state governments and to address market access issues.

Political Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The Political Program is led by an EX-01 Program Manager, supported by four officers (FS-03, FS-01, LE-08, LE-07) and an LE-05 assistant. The EX-01 position is staffed with an FS-03, and the FS-01 position is staffed with an FS-02. The Program is responsible for managing the overall Canada-EU relationship. This includes

  • Managing and maintaining the Canada-EU framework;
  • Preparing and following-up on annual summits and declarations;
  • Advancing Canada’s priorities through cooperation on global issues, regional conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building;
  • Liaising and coordinating with HQ, partner departments, and missions in EU member states; and,
  • Contributing to the Mission’s EU 101 course.

3.1.2 Effective April 1, 2008, the Program will be taking on responsibility for Public Affairs (PA) and direct supervision of an LE-08 officer. This Officer had previously allocated 50% of her time to the bilateral mission to Belgium. The Mission is in the process of incorporating the new resource into its operations and planning. The Program intends to establish the coordination mechanisms to ensure that PA activities support the objectives of all Mission programs.

3.2 Program Management

3.2.1 The PM arrived at the Mission *** and is adjusting to the new role. The new PM has had a *** of the Section, providing *** support and guidance when needed. Formal and informal communications are seen as effective and provide the appropriate forums to discuss issues and remain apprised of ongoing events. The HOM and the DHOM are seen as supportive of the Program, facilitating the achievement of objectives.

3.2.2 Staff within the Political Program were *** engaged on the New Way Forward, Political Economic Renewal. The DHOM and the PM have reviewed the seven core services with the entire Section, and staff had a *** grasp of the principles and services to be offered to partners.

3.2.3 In consultation with officers, the PM undertook a reorganization of files to better balance workloads and priorities. The results have been positive and appreciated by all staff. Staff have also begun developing 3 month “rolling” workplans, initiated by the DHOM and based on the yearly objectives set out in PMP.

3.2.4 The officers and assistants in the Section have been provided with limited training opportunities. The DHOM has sought to address this issue on a Mission-wide basis with the developing of individual learning plans. This is an important step and management must ensure that an annual training budget is set and learning plans are the basis upon which to establish learning priorities.

3.3 Operations

3.3.1 Given the FS-03 Officer’s role with the Section, there is an opportunity to expand the positions responsibilities to provide valuable experience in terms of management and cross-functional leadership. The addition of management responsibilities may necessitate a re-balancing of files within the Program.

3.3.2 ***

3.3.3 The Program, and the Mission in general, see a future need for a greater presence from partner departments, in particular from a development and policing perspective. Increased workloads in these areas have been recognized, but the Program and the Mission will need to more systematically monitor such activities to ensure that an effective argument can be made to partner departments to establish a presence in Brussels.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.3.4 The Mission, in consultation with Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD), should develop and implement a plan ***.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.3.4 Mission has initiated consultations with HLD and European Union and West Europe Bureau (RRD) and will be developing with them a general approach ***.

Appendix A: Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Trade and Economic Policy and Political programs.

The inspection objectives were to:

  • Assess management controls and systems, procedures and activities that make up the programs;
  • Determine the extent of compliance with legislation, regulations and operating policies;
  • Assess the reliability and adequacy of information available for decision-making and accountability purposes;
  • Ensure resources are judiciously used and that the Department is receiving value-for-money; and,
  • Make recommendations, where warranted, to improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of programs.

The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with HQ bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant HQ and mission documentation, and past inspection findings, and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.

During the Inspection, issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the HOM, DHOM, and Program Managers, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of inspection work was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, Mission Management and Mission operations.

Appendix B: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Chancery-1
Official Residence1-
Staff QuartersManaged by BRU
Storage Facilities--
Vehicles1-

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Reference Levels
2007/08 Reference Levels
Total$2,710,725
Operating Budget (N001)$494,670
Capital Budget (N005)$19,775
CBS Salary Budget (N011)$1,227,200
CBS Overtime Budget (N011)$33,000
LES Salary Budget (N012)$936,080

Appendix C: Organization Chart

Organization Chart


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Date Modified:
2012-10-17