Open Europe Blog

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.

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