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POLITICO: Comisarul European Corina Cretu "aprinde candele si fumeaza in birou", are un “program deschis”, adica, in general, nu lucreaza, nu merge la sedinte si isi trimite consilierii la magazin - VIDEO
Politico mai spune ca unele secretare de la birou au fost puse sa-i faca curat in casa.
POLITICO: Comisarul european Corina Cretu nu merge la sedinte, fumeaza in birou si isi trimite consilierii la magazin Comisarul european pentru politici regionale, Corina Cretu
Varianta pentru Europa a site-ului POLITICO a publicat o serie de marturii ale membrilor staff-ului Corinei Cretu, reprezentantul Romaniei in Comisia Europeana.
Potrivit POLITICO.eu, aproape jumatate din staff-ul comisarului european Corina Cretu a demisionat din noiembrie 2014, cand a preluat functia si pana acum. Printre acestia, seful de cabinet, adjunctul sefului de cabinet si responsabilul cu comunicarea. Motivul plecarii ar fi “dezogranizarea” din activitatea comisarului european, care ar cere staff-ului sa ii duca rufele la curatat sau sa-i faca cumparaturile.
In 2013, Corina Cretu a mai fost victima unui scandal international, dupa ce un hacker i-a spart contul de mail si a publicat conversatii private si fotografii. Acestea ar fi sugerat ca politicianul roman a avut o relatie cu fostul secretar de stat american Colin Powell. Ambii oficiali au spus ca sunt doar prieteni.
Reporterii POLITICO au vorbit cu 11 dintre fostii si actualii colaboratori ai Corinei Cretu si au obtinut un exemplar al programului de lucru, care arata ca reprezentanta Romaniei la Bruxelles nu participa la intalniri oficiale lunea, miercurea si vinerea – potrivit staff-ului, are “program deschis”, adica, in general, nu lucreaza.
De altfel, dintre cei 28 de comisari, Cretu ar avea cel mai mare procente de absente la intalnirile saptamanale ale Comisiei – aproape 25%. Presedintele Jean Claude-Juncker a si trimis in septembrie un mesaj catre toti membrii Comisiei, cerandu-le sa participe la aceste sedinte.
Fostii si actuali colaboratori spun ca Cretu aprinde candele si fumeaza in birou, in pofida directivelor UE. “Toata lumea i-a zis ca nu poate face asa ceva, dar ea a raspuns ‘In Romania, un ministru poate face ce vrea’”. Comisarul le-ar fi cerut asistentilor sai sa ii programeze toate intalnirile dupa-amiaza si seara, nefiind o persoana matinala. Sursele spun ca noul sef de cabinet ar fi cazut de acord cu Cretu ca nicio intalnire sa nu aiba loc inainte de ora 10:00 iar ziua de vineri sa fie libera. Fostul sef, Mikel Landabaso, a demisionat in septembrie, ca urmare a divergentelor cu comisarul privind programul ei dezorganizat.
Cretu a declarat insa pentru POLITICO ca isi aloca timp pentru a citi si ca nu merge la cumparaturi.
“Nu lucrez niciodata mai putin de 8-10 ore pe zi”, a spus ea. "Prefer sa am mai putine intalniri si sa fiu pregatita decat sa am multe intalniri si sa nu stapanesc subiectul discutiei".
Staff-ul ar fi inceput sa fie ingrijorat de problemele de imaginei ale Corinei Cretu in aprilie, cand Wall Street Journal a sugerat intr-un articol ca aceasta si-ar fi facut week-end-uri prelungite in tara. WSJ lansa insa astfel de acuzatii si in cazul altor oficiali de la Bruxelles.
In mai 2015, o vizita oficiala de 4 zile in insulele Reunion ar fi fost extinsa, devenind o vacanta de 10 zile in care comisarului i s-ar fi alaturat si sotul ei.
Cretu a declarat insa ulterior ca a platit din propriul buzunar pentru zilele suplimentare.
Unii dintre asistentii comisarului european ar fi fost pusi sa faca treburi casnice, afirma sursele POLITICO. De pilda, soferul ar fi plimbat cu masina rude ale Corinei Cretu iar alti membri ai staff-ului ar fi fost trimisi cu rufele la curatat sau la cumparaturi.
Niciunul dintre fostii sau actualii colaboratori – printre care se numara si Aida Bajenaru, fosta garda SPP a premierului Nastase - nu a confirmat public aceste acuzatii.
Corina Cretu a comentat aceste afirmatii, spunand ca nu e nimic adevarat si ca nu se coboara la un asemenea nivel.
POLITICO este un grup mass-media din SUA, fondat de doi fosti jurnalisti de la Washington Post si specializat in stiri despre politica americana.
In 2014 a lansat si o editie europeana, in parteneriat cu grupul media german Alex Springer. In SUA, POLICO este apropiat de republicani
VIDEO - vizita de lucru a Comisarului European Corina Cretu si-a prelungit "vizita de lucru" intr-o vacanta "binemeritata"
POLITICO = A commissioner’s work habits prompt staff upheaval Corina Creţu’s long weekends and treatment of underlings said to be behind high turnover.
Nearly half of EU Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Creţu’s closest staff resigned during her first year in office over concerns about the Romanian’s work habits.
Current and former employees described an office in disarray amid the departures of her head of cabinet, deputy head, and her communications chief, among others.
The unusually high turnover — with 8 out of 19 people in her private office gone in 12 months — came in the wake of concerns about the commissioner’s light work schedule as well as her tendency to combine official trips with leisure travel and to ask staff to perform personal tasks, such as doing laundry, shopping for groceries and chauffeuring family members.
Several aides in Creţu’s personal office left because they feared that they would not be able to defend her. The staff grew so concerned that the commissioner was taking too much time off that her then-head of cabinet warned against blocking her schedule for “commissioner time” or “no meetings” because it might look suspicious.
POLITICO spoke to 11 former and current staffers in her Commission office, many of whom declined to comment on the record about the staff upheaval.
A copy of the commissioner’s personal schedule for the past 12 months, which POLITICO obtained, often showed no meetings on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Staff sources said an open schedule meant she usually wasn’t working during those times.
Creţu said the blocked time in her calendar is “for reading. I don’t do shopping. I never work less than 10 to 8 hours in a day.”
Among the 28 commissioners, Creţu has one of the highest absentee rates at the weekly meetings of the full Commission, or College, missing nearly a quarter of them.
Creţu, a 48-year-old politician who worked briefly as a journalist in her youth, shows a cavalier attitude to Commission rules that fed the frustrations of members of her cabinet, the sources said. For example, former and current staffers said, Creţu smoked cigarettes in her office, flouting an institution-wide ban.
“Everyone said, ‘You can’t do this,’” according to a former staffer, “but she said, ‘In Romania, a minister can do whatever they want.’”
Creţu defends record
The trouble in her office is a potential headache for President Jean-Claude Juncker. The Luxembourger promised to revamp the Brussels bureaucracy to make it more responsive to public concerns and better at regulating and governing, even as the EU sticks to the model of giving each country a single commissioner’s seat.
Under the power structure in place now at the Commission, the responsibility for pushing proposals rests mainly with the higher tier of vice presidents than with individual commissioners. The political premium is on “doing less”, but doing it “more effectively,” which leads to charges that more than a few commissioners aren’t doing enough.
Echoing that complaint, Juncker in September wrote the 27 other commissioners to urge them to attend meetings of the College, saying there had been too many absences.
Creţu’s bumpy ride in Brussels comes at a difficult time for Romania on the EU stage. She was appointed by Victor Ponta, the former prime minister who resigned last month and faces corruption charges. His wife is one of Creţu’s close friends. According to several sources, Creţu has told her staff she plans to run for public office back home in the future.
As EU regional policy chief, Creţu is not in charge of one of the Commission’s higher profile portfolios. She has made few legislative proposals. But she does oversee spending of more than €350 billion on economic development projects in the EU’s poorer regions for the 2014-2020 period, roughly a third of the bloc’s budget.
To date, there have been no official complaints about Creţu’s behavior or investigations related to staff issues, according to a Commission official.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said she “is a solid member of Team Juncker and doing a great job as regional policy commissioner for jobs and growth.”
In an interview last week, Creţu defended her work habits, saying she maintains a full professional and travel schedule.
“I’m the one who never says no,” Creţu told POLITICO. “I visited 24 countries, I oversee all of the operational programs.
I have 700 people in the DG [Directorate-General] who I’m preparing for. I’m preparing for the cabinet.”
Creţu acknowledged trying to keep meetings to a minimum but said she spends a lot of time reading to prepare for them.
“I prefer less meetings and to be more prepared than to have more meetings and not know what I’m saying,” she said.
She declined to respond to questions about staff concerns that she had asked them to do personal tasks. “I would not like to lower myself to that level,” she said. “It’s unfair.”
Aides said they often had to scramble to rearrange the commissioner’s schedule after she canceled meetings, saying she is “not a morning person.”
In response to a detailed inquiry, the commissioner’s new head of cabinet Nicola De Michelis cited the “intensity” of Creţu’s schedule as a reason for the high staff turnover in the office, and said it is normal for staffers to leave if the workload expands.
“Personnel changes in cabinets are not exceptional, especially in the first year of the mandate when work requirements are involving too much portfolio-related priorities not known earlier,” he said.
Neither Creţu nor the chief of her cabinet would address questions about specific reasons why staffers resigned or about her activities during periods of time when her schedule appeared light.
Staffers said the departures were related to the commissioner’s work habits.
“I left because we had different work styles and she needed someone more accommodating to her work,” said former communications director Dragoş Bucurenci, who resigned his position in July.
‘They are not my choice.’
Staff sources said that Creţu, a former vice president of the European Parliament and onetime Romanian presidential adviser, can be kind and warm to staff. She wears a platinum blonde bob and glasses, and her roundish face becomes expressive when she speaks. Her English is serviceable. One of her peculiar quirks, staffers said, is to light religious candles in the office.
Her calendar posed unusual challenges. Aides said they often had to scramble to rearrange the commissioner’s schedule after she canceled meetings, saying she is “not a morning person” and blaming her frequent late arrivals on a cross-town commute from a Brussels suburb.
Staffers drew the line at a suggestion from Creţu to schedule all of her meetings in the afternoons and evenings, the sources said.
Her personal schedule in the past 12 months reveals a tendency to keep a light workload around weekends, which were often spent in her home country.
Mikel Landabaso, who was the chief of her cabinet, departed in September following disagreements with the commissioner over the lack of rigor in her work schedule and how she spent her time on official business trips, the sources said.
Landabaso warned the commissioner not to block off too much of her schedule, to avoid giving the impression that she was not working.
Landabaso took a job as a head of unit in the Commission’s directorate-general for regional policy (DG Regio), the department where he had worked before joining the commissioner’s personal staff and which Creţu oversees.
“My agreement with the commissioner was to help her out, settling in, this is what I did,” Landabaso told POLITICO, explaining his departure from the cabinet after less than a year. “We agreed that this was the way forward and this is what we did. I think she was someone trying to do a good job and I was trying to do a good job.”
Gabriel Onaca, who as deputy head of cabinet was the number two aide in the office, moved to DG Regio with Landabaso in September after what sources said was “burnout” from juggling policy work and personal tasks for Creţu. Onaca did not respond to several requests for comment.
Bucurenci, the commissioner’s communications director, resigned from his post after raising concerns that he would not be able to defend the commissioner in the press about her travel schedule, sources said.
Other junior aides also left during the past year for what sources said were issues related to the commissioner’s work habits. Those who left included administrative assistants and the commissioner’s driver, according to sources.
Creţu blamed the high turnover on the need to form a cabinet quickly after taking office, saying she did not have time to personally vet all the hires.
“They are not my choice,” she said. “They are personnel choices. With some people, I could not work. I had to fire a person.”
10 days on Réunion
Staff sources say aides grew concerned about the political fallout from the appearance that the commissioner was taking long weekends — especially after the Wall Street Journal reported in April that Creţu had traveled to Romania on five occasions and in March went on a three-day mission to Romania from Tuesday until Thursday and didn’t schedule any meeting that Friday, suggesting that she took a long weekend back home.
After this press report, Landabaso warned the commissioner not to block off too much of her schedule, to avoid giving the impression that she was not working, according to two sources familiar with the exchange.
Landabaso denied the claim, saying he “discussed with her the calendar and I did not have a problem blocking days.”
Creţu told POLITICO that during the blocked time she was reading. “It’s for reading. I don’t do shopping,” she said. “I never work less than 10 to 8 hours in the day.”
Creţu sought to restrict her meeting schedule to no more than three meetings per day with a 30-minute separation, according to an internal memo sent to the cabinet in June and obtained by POLITICO.
A trip in May also caused staff concern when the commissioner extended a four-day official mission to the Indian Ocean island of Réunion into a 10-day vacation with her husband, Romanian businessman Ovidiu Rogoz, according to a schedule obtained by POLITICO.
Her daily schedule was light. On the first three days of the conference on economic development and tourism on the island, her schedule wrapped at 4:30 p.m., with the final meeting on the fourth day ending at 12:30 p.m..
At first, she told POLITICO that she extended her stay only through the weekend. When told that her schedule showed a 10-day trip, she acknowledged it, saying that “I paid for my trip after four days of meetings.”
During the week of July 20, Creţu’s schedule shows she had just three appointments apart from compulsory meetings for commissioners, such as the weekly gathering of all 28 members of the institution. She had no meetings on Monday, Thursday and Friday of that week, according to the schedule.
The pattern was repeated frequently during the year, with the calendar showing several weeks with Mondays and Fridays left blank — often coinciding with official visits abroad. Seven of the 20 official visits Creţu completed during the past year were in Romania, her home country.
The schedule shows that Creţu didn’t attend many of the weekly meetings of the full Commission. From November 5, 2014, to October 27, 2015, she missed 10 of the 41 College meetings, according to Commission records. She is one of four commissioners who missed 10 meetings or more. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, missed the most, 14 in all.
Driving the Creţus
Some assistants were instructed to do personal assistant work in her home, according to current and former staffers, pushing much of the commissioner’s administrative work on assistants of other team members.
Longtime Creţu assistant Arina Stoenescu — who lived with the commissioner and according to several sources did housework on top of official duties — returned to Romania in April for personal reasons.
When contacted by POLITICO, Stoenescu denied that she did personal work for the commissioner.
The schedule shows that Creţu didn’t attend many of the weekly meetings of the full Commission. Her replacement Aïda Bajanaru, a former bodyguard to disgraced former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, was given the same duties but was allowed to take one to two days of unofficial holiday per month to compensate for the extra hours, sources said. Bajanaru declined to comment.
Administrative assistant Margo Espino, a contract agent, took a pay cut to move from Creţu’s cabinet to DG Regio in November to join Landabaso. “I followed Landabaso for career opportunities,” Espino told POLITICO.
Administrative assistant Patricia Bestgen was moved to DG Translation in October. “I’m leaving because there was a reshuffling in the team, I’m not a Romanian and she needed the contract,” Bestgen said, referring to a limit on the number of temporary contract employees each cabinet can have.
Driver Lucien Van Rossum left in June after he voiced complaints about waiting outside the commissioner’s house for hours in the morning and chauffeuring Creţu’s family, according to the sources. Van Rossum declined to comment.
Creţu dismissed a claim that the driver was annoyed at being asked to drive her niece around.
“It was two days in one year,” she said, adding that it was to see the European institutions.
Since the recent office upheaval over her work habits, the commissioner struck a compromise with current staff, sources said.
De Michelis, her new chief of staff, got an agreement with the commissioner not to schedule meetings before 10 a.m. and to make her Fridays clear in exchange for free rein to run a professional cabinet, sources said.
Ryan Heath and Carmen Paun contributed to this report.
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