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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Does the ire of some EU staff show that the Commission is doing something right?

As part of its plans for the next multi-year EU budget (2014-2020) and related white paper on staff regulations, the European Commission will propose a five percent cut to staff numbers in the EU institutions, a high ranking EU official has told EUobserver.

He said:
"The Commission is aiming for zero growth in the administrative budget. With ongoing pay rises related to promotions, this means a reduction in the head count. If the Commission proposed lower wages and perks, they would face a strike by the trade unions."
In a press release yesterday, "Union for Unity", a group of "unionised and non-unionised members" of EU staff, responded in particularly flambouyant fashion (the press release was originally in French):
“To equate necessary adjustments of national budgets and the refusal to let the EU budget increase (hardly 1.1pct of the 27 member states’ GDP, need it be reminded) (...) would be the same as submitting members of Weight Watchers to the same treatment as an anorexic teenager (!): preventing the latter from growing fatter, while using the argument that the rest need to lose weight…Who would trust a doctor acting that way?”
Hmmm, can you take that seriously?

This reaction illustrates that, although it may not be going far as we would probably like, the Commission may be starting to get the message, however slowly, that in the long term the EU will have to make better use of its resources.

It also highlights the point that, if the EU budget is frozen in cash terms, this will necessitate a proper evaluation and reordering of the EU's priorities. Rather than the so far endless increases in EU spending year on year, putting a long-term cap on the money available will force people (not just in the Commission but also national capitals) to make difficult choices about how this money should be spent.

Then we can actually start getting some value out of the EU budget.


Anonymous said...

Fair enough, but why not reconsider a couple of other things, too? Such as the high number of untouchable fonctionnaires, who profit from a seemingly automatic increase in wages up to a very high level? Or the fact that people can easily stay and be remunerated even after they've reached the official retirement age?

Hiring less people is not the only way to reduce spending and definitely not the best way to increase the quality of who's currently working at the Commission.

Rollo said...

This is just propaganda and will lead to no cuts, just increasing expansion. The commission will be doing something right when they have a 100% staff cut and disband themselves.

Sheona said...

"A strike by the unions"? Will there be a prize for anyone who actually notices any effect from this? (excluding Brussels taxi-drivers.)

Anonymous said...

The staff of the EU has expressed its solidarity for many years already. In particular since the Kinnock Reform of 2004 with, for example, the increase on a yearly basis of the special crisis levy, lower salaries (by 20%),increased pensionable age AND contributions, AT THE SAME time decreasing pensions, noticeable decrease in career progress. This 2004 Reform resulted in a reduction of personnel costs by 20% annually (cf. Eurostat).
The EU staff pays 'crisis tax' since 1972.
It also does not get indexation 'automatically' as it is directly linked with indexation of the public service in the MSs. Of course not all, but those MSs which the governments carefully selected as having likely the lowest indexation.

Just saying...