An interesting article in Die Welt today takes a look at how French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche has broken a long standing taboo (shock horror) by openly criticising an EU body.
The story begins in a Norman Rockwell-esque fashion – with Lellouche “seated in a conference room at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (Vienna) listening to zealous officials, nodding from time to time”, but then goes on to describe him as “fuming with rage”.
Why the rage? Well, the article explains, an additional five of these EU agencies are to be launched by 2011, which will bring the total number of such agencies to 32.
Additionally, between 2005 and 2009 the overall budget for these agencies has doubled – with them costing €579 million in total. The number of employees in these agencies has also shot up, from 2,415 to 3,878 over the same period.
Some of these agencies are perhaps useful, but it is rather amusing that the Germans are so familiar with the concept of being ‘sick of too many agencies’, that it has entered the popular lexicon as “Agenturitis”.
Lellouche’s response to the meeting: “What is the point of this? Is there anything that the agency adds to what we've got?..The EU Council takes care of human rights, anyway.”
The Chief of the Fundamental Rights Agency Morten Kjaerum makes a half-hearted effort to defend himself, saying: “my agency provides important reports that should serve as the basis for decisions…”
But, like the utterly pointless Committee of the Regions, it seems attention is turning to the usefulness of some of these EU institutions and agencies.
CDU MEP Inge Gräßle is quoted in the article saying: “It simply cannot be that for every new problem a new EU-Agency is set up. This Agenturitis must come to an end.”
Apart from a chronic desire to create new agency bodies – what are the other symptoms of Agenturiris? Apparently, lack of transparency in workings and expenditure, lack of control, and lack of cooperation…sounds entirely possible in the EU.