European bureaucrats take a haircut after budgetary negotiations

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 11, 2013

European officials are preparing to apply extreme cuts to their budgets beginning next year. The budget negotiations held last week resulted in a reduction in administrative costs, slightly more than the latest estimates, although lower than what had been proposed by British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Budgetary cuts only include a cut of 2,500 million euros compared to the initial scenario envisaged by the European Commission. This reflects the lack of agreement among members and the realization that cutting any further would have left the EU with even more unhappy bureaucrats. The 2.5 billion cut is peanuts when compared to the 1 billion euros.

The Commission is upset with the prominence acquired by the cuts during the debate and warns that it will be difficult to take on more responsibilities and welcome new countries in the EU family.

What European negotiators had no trouble agreeing on was on the maintenance of the 61.629 million euros budget dedicated to the administration of the European institutions, which represent an advance of nearly 8% over the current budget framework.

Much of that budget is used to pay fat retirement packages to European bureaucrats which is the reason why the Commission will begin to implement its own austerity plan, which has been taken by European leaders and agreed with Parliament.

Those supposed austerity measures will represent a 5% cut in public employment until 2017, representing 2,500 jobs lost through that will not be replaced. In addition, staff working 40 hours a week, will retire at age 65 — now can do it at 63 — and the so called solidarity tax will grow to 6% of the workers’ salaries.

In addition, the lowest wages and the highest among the administrative staff will fall between 20% and 45%. And there will be more possibilities of temporary contracts. Finally, annual travel will be restricted.

With the wave of austerity sweeping across Europe, these measures still leave Europe’s 55,000 public employees well above average, with  salaries ranging from 2,000 to 16,000 per month –. The comparison is less favorable if the riches in Europe are taken into consideration, who will obviously not seek work in Brussels.

But that will not be enough to accommodate the numbers agreed. So the Commission explores other hypotheses. One of them is to lower the bill of translation, which absorbs 15% of the EU administrative expenditure. It also proposes to reduce (or eliminate) the maintenance of national experts who travel to the EU capital, so that each country pays for their own. None of this measures will make any significant changes to the European budget, though. They are simply petty decisions made in an attempt to show willingness to cut, but not much as needed or on the matters that really need to be slashed.

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About Luis Miranda
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