Barking mad? Commission chews over bring-your-pet-to-work policy
Staff at the EU’s executive could soon be allowed to bring their dog to the office.
BRUSSELS — Is the European Commission going to the dogs?
It soon might be as top management are considering letting staffers bring their four-legged friends — and other pets — to work.
“Regarding the presence of dogs in its premises, the Commission is exploring pet-related presence and will organise pilot actions where staff could come with their pets,” Budget and Administration Commissioner Johannes Hahn wrote to MEPs in a note published on Wednesday.
A cross-group pack of MEPs embarked in late November 2022 on a dogged quest to improve the mental health of Eurocrats, formally asking the Commission if it would consider allowing pets in its buildings.
“Despite their undeniable contribution to improving people’s well-being, pets are not allowed into any of the EU institutions’ buildings,” yelped Alexis Georgoulis (The Left), Francisco Guerreiro (Greens), Karen Melchior (Renew), Monica Semedo (Renew) and Loucas Fourlas (EPP).
The EU institutions “are considered to be at the leading edge in terms of personnel policies,” they wrote, pointing out that many international companies already let employees bring their pets to work.
Neatly sidestepping the potential, er, fallout from having such a policy, the MEPs also asked if the Commission would consider “creating spaces with bins and special bags for employees” to use when their pets have to answer a call of nature.
In true Brussels fashion, the MEPs also suggested that a Commission pet-friendly policy could help solve a costly problem for member states, asking if the European Commission would encourage its workers to adopt stray dogs.
Quoting the results of a Commission-funded study, the MEPs said stray animals are a major problem in most European cities, entailing “significant costs for the competent authorities.”
But anyone who thinks changing the EU’s rules is simple is barking up the wrong tree; allowing pets into the office would mean adapting the Commission’s legal framework, “taking into consideration various features with regard to health and safety of staff as well as some practical issues,” Hahn wrote.
The Austrian politician said that the well-being of Commission staff is “of the utmost importance.”
Hahn also settled what could have been a bone of contention, explaining that the Belgian authorities are in charge of special bins for dog poop, which are often located close to Commission buildings. The Commission is also not able to rule on stray dog adoptions for its staff, he added.
There is believed to be no truth to rumors that the Commission will recommend “the Council” as the best place to take dogs for a poop.