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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Downright scandalous

We had been forced led to believe by the powers that be that the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty (by hook and by crook) was meant to signal the end of the EU's internal wrangling and launch the EU into a new decade more outward looking and firmly focussed on the needs of its citizens.

However, the 40,000 - 50,000 or so EU bureaucrats in Brussels (and Luxembourg) plainly have other ideas. They have decided to start 2010 by taking all 27 member states of the EU to the European Court of Justice over their refusal to agree an inflation busting 3.7% pay rise. EU officials have been unwilling to accept a compromise offer from member states of a 1.85% rise.

Now this is so outrageous on so many levels that you would be forgiven for thinking this was a joke or something concocted by the most vehement eurosceptic. But if you're struggling to believe it, take a look here.

First, the pay rise itself. EU officials are paid well, very well. The basic monthly salary of the lowest pay grade is €2,550 per month, while a department head can expect to earn around €17,700 per month, and are paying special "community taxes" ranging from 8% to 45% (with the highest tax bracket applying only on wages above €6,700 per month). They receive all manner of benefits, including generous allowances for their children's education and very favourable pension arrangements.

Despite these benefits, EU officials are insistent that, in the worst recession for generations, they are entitled to more because "that's what the 'compulsory method' for calculating the figure says" and that it is a matter of "rule of law" as a Commission spokesperson delicately put it. Evidently, recessions can't penetrate the Brussels bubble and, even if they did, they would of course be superseded by EU law.

The scale of the brazen disregard for what is happening to Europeans elsewhere and the sheer bloody-midedness is quite frankly awesome.

Second, is the process by which this issue of the pay rise will inevitably happen be decided. You could cut the lack of democratic accountability with a knife. Today's decision to take the matter to the ECJ was taken by the 'College of Commissioners', which includes all 27 EU Commissioners and the UK's very own Catherine Ashton. The decision was taken by unanimity, so it therefore follows that the Baroness thought this a good idea too.

Because all the salaries of those directly employed by the EU institutions are based upon the same pay scale, the 27 EU Commissioners are also set to benefit from the additional 3.7%. Now Ashton's decision is not looking so silly (well, for her anyway). As Bruno Waterfield over at the Telegraph notes, Ashton will pocket an extra £9,000 on top of her basic annual salary of £241,000 if the commission's legal action is successful. But it does not stop there.

Not content with an assault on EU taxpayers' wallets, the Commissioners have made sure to insult their intellect for good measure. Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told journalists that due to the stalemate between member states and the Commission "Now it's for the court" to decide. Reading this at first glance one would think this reasonable - an impartial judiciary is just the job for such institutional difficulties.

But, hang on a minute, aren't the ECJ judges' salaries also based on the very same pay scale as all other EU officials? Why yes they are. Thank the EU for those checks and balances. The festive season may be over but the expression 'Turkeys don't often vote for Christmas' still very much applies.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

And when the recession is over (and the cost of living rises) will their pay be based on today's low inflation? Hmm...

Has anyone thought of challenging the Commission's legitimacy in the ECJ? The last anyone heard, it ran out of road on October 31, 2009. It has had no legal basis since...

Grahnlaw said...

When is Open Europe going to speak its mind on bankers' and CEOs' bonuses or the havoc caused by City players?

Open Europe blog team said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Open Europe blog team said...

Thanks Grahnlaw. Always good to see you here.

Are you saying, though, that just because some bankers were rewarded for excessive risk-taking, or are now being paid bonuses, it's perfectly okay for EU civil servants to go such lengths to get a 3.7% pay rise?

Never mind us for a second, from their perspective, don't you think that it's extremely unwise to do this now, considering all the talk about the end of the navel-gazing era (with the Lisbon Treaty), the EU urging member states to cut budget deficits, the EU's existing gravy-train reputation, the pay freezes on public sector pay in several countries, the economic difficulties ordinary people are facing in the recession etc. etc...?

Grahnlaw said...

Open Europe blog team,

I just would not want you to apply double standards or being overly selective in your treatment of excessive pay.

Anonymous said...

Grahnlaw - before we go any further, do you know the difference between the private and the public sector?

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with Bankers, it is to do with the simple fact that the eussr has divorced itself from the peoples of 27 previously free nations, and from reality, these overpaid, and in the main part unelected political failures can't appreciate the simple facts that whilst everyone else is being told, not least by them, that they must tighten their belts this greedy bunch are demanding pay increases on what are already good incomes, above the level of inflation, not least caused by the lowest common denominator one size fits all regulation which spews out of the unelected commission of the corruption ridden democratically deficient eussr. To sa that they have to follow the law is laughable, they make the law, and indeed had no problems in ignoring it to impose their constitution on to the people against democratic rejections of it.

Anonymous said...

>And when the recession is over (and the cost of living rises) will their pay be based on today's low inflation? Hmm..

Yes, it will. Just like last year the inflation in Belgium was close to 6%, yet the indexation for the EU employees (taking into account the increased salary charges) was c. 2%.

But of course you will not read about it here, just like you have not read it last year...

Anonymous said...

I wonder what these people would do on a pensioners small amount with their small rise. These people do not work in the real world they get their underlings do do the real work... and what about their expenses... the 241,000 that Baroness Ashton gets would possible be double with the "without receipts" expenses

Mac the Tyke said...

It is a total waste of time trying to resolve anything in Europe via the European Parliament and MEPs. The only way forward is to vote in the forthcoming General Election for candidates who will terminate our EU membership.
If we vote as we have done in the past you are consigning this and future generations to eternal servitude.
Perhaps some people might take an unnatural delight in keeping the Eurocrats in such luxury whilst the ordinary people of this country are on the breadline. I suppose it is a bit like taking pride in your boss having a new Ferrari every year whilst you cannot even afford the bus fare to work.

Take great care because there is nothing to stop this parasitic disease spreading to those greedy UK MP's.

This is our money, our country and our future.

SueHudson said...

I would love a pay rise of 3.7%. These Brussels bureaucrats are supposed to be acting on OUR behalf, not robbing us!

Anonymous said...

This is shocking news ; but what one might expect from the European Commission . I think the 27 Member states should stand firm on their refusal to agree the 3.7 pay rise for EU Bureaucrats . If they are taken to court and lose , what can the EU do ? Nothing I suspect .
The Germans and French refused to pay big fines when their finances were out of order .
27 Member states can ignore an EU court ruling against them . Like it or not the European Commission will have to accept the total opposition of 27 Member states .
Perhaps the Bureaucrats will all go out on strike , who cares !

Will said...

I would prefer that we opt out of this beaurocratic and self-serving monster completely.

stu said...

I wonder why it is that so few people seem to believe or trust the European institutions, especially where money is concerned.
Probably because the whole thing is completely out of control and appears to be totally unaccountable to anyone, even its own auditors.

Anonymous said...

Britain GET OUT.

Sara said...

The EU is totally undemocratic and corrupt form top to bottom; this kind of thing is ar for the course. It;s massive drain on every member state but especially on the top net payers such as ourselves in the UK.

I will never vote for any party which supports this dictatorial and unaccountable 'government' but I fear we shall never (under the terms of Lisbon) be able to get out - not without totally beggaring our country anyway: the Europeans hate us, and the future is bleak.

Anonymous said...

Is the european commission an unstoppable organisation - it appears to be able to pick and choose which laws it wishes to abide by, and is patently acting illegally in many of its actions. Any private organisation acting in this way would have been closed down or banned long ago - sadly the only possible way that these actions can be controlled would be by a concerted effort by national goverments to seek legal judgements and action against them. The chance of this being initiated by such goverments who are equally happy to ignore the rule of law when it suits them, is remote. I assume that should such an action take place the commission would simply ignore it anyway, on the grounds that they are always above the law. This is called democracy !!!!!

Peter of Sapley said...

The European Union is a dictatorship which pretends to be a Democracy. Each of the 27 countries in the E.U. are merely puppets-on-a-string. We should step back to the E.F.T.A. - European Free Trade Association era when countries ruled themselves.

Anonymous said...

Would some one please explain to me just what use the EU Commission actually is....it appears to be the biggest black hole in Europe, swallowing money wholesale for very little return...If it ever does a job that may justify paying its Commissioners, these farsicial
sums of money ..when we are supposed to be coming out of recession, i would like to know what....

Anonymous said...

Hello to everybody,

Pls help,`Thank the EU for those checks and balances´- I am no sure to what it is referring to so if somebody would be so kind to explain I would be more than grateful.

Thanks
Bolivar

Anonymous said...

It's the second time I post this here. Looks like the blogger doesn't like it.

It's amazing the amount of ignorance and non-sense around here. People make there own idea of what the European Commission is and does and then comment own their own idea without even check if it is true. UK is a net payer to the EU!!! UK contributes to the EU budget and then gets the money back in the form of grants, contracts and transfers. The other EU countries pay to the UK for British companies to have access to their own markets and then British complain about everything.