Headlines Mai 2012
V-P Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has urged Member States to move quickly on key areas of the Commission's proposed multi-annual financial framework (MFF) ahead of next month's European Council meeting.
Speaking at the General Affairs Council in Brussels on Tuesday, V-P Šefčovič told ministers from all 27 Member States that the Commission expected a decision on the MFF – the EU's next long-term budget – by the end of the year, in order for it to come into force in time at the start of 2014.
But there are still several key areas where the Commission and Council do not see eye to eye – for example on the issue of macroeconomic conditionalities, where the Commission is proposing to link the allocation of structural and cohesion funds to the implementation of sound fiscal and structural policies conducive to growth.
He also discussed the progress of Croatia towards EU membership, set for 1 July 2013, welcoming the work already carried out by Zagreb to align its national legislation with that of the EU. However, the Vice-President also stressed that there were a few key areas where the pace of adaptation needed to be speeded up in time for the deadline, adding that the Commission remained committed to Croatia’s successful accession to the EU and its smooth integration into the European family.
Now more than ever, the EU needs a dedicated, efficient and effective public administration to propose solutions to problems and oversee their implementation. This was the message from European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, where was taking part in a conference on public administration organised by the French Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), where most of France's political elite have studied.
Just six weeks after the launch of the European Citizens' Initiative, the first ECIs have been officially registered by the European Commission, allowing them to start collecting signatures in support of their proposals.
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič gave a speech in praise of the European civil service on Thursday, highlighting the hard work of Commission staff and defending his proposals for streamlining the EU public sector.
In his speech at a breakfast briefing organised by the European Policy Centre, V-P Šefčovič tried to explode a few of the myths surrounding EU civil servants. Few people know, for example, that there are just 56,000 EU civil servants, of whom around 30,000 work for the Commission – making the whole EU administration smaller than some national ministries!
V-P Šefčovič also highlighted the value-for-money offered by the EU civil service – the entire EU budget costs each European less than 70 euro cents a day, and the civil service costs less than 6% of that total amount! Most EU money is not spent on institutions; it is invested in people, in projects, in regions, in farmers or in businesses across the European Union.
As the Commissioner responsible for administration, V-P Šefčovič also led negotiations with staff and unions on reforming the EU civil service, in line with cuts to many national administrations prompted by the economic crisis. He has proposed cutting staff numbers by 5% and increasing both the working week and retirement age, among others, which will save around €1bn. But he warned that calls for further cuts would threaten the ability of the EU civil service to do its job properly: "The 5% cut in staff that I propose will make savings of roughly €1bn; it doesn't take a genius to work out how many more staff we'd have to lose to reach even the €5bn mark – just do the math!"
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič took part in the meeting of the European Parliament's petitions committee (PETI) on Tuesday to discuss the new European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) and how it can complement petitions in helping give a voice to the concerns of EU citizens. With the first ECI – on student mobility – due to be registered on Wednesday, V-P Šefčovič took the opportunity to share with MEPs the benefits of such citizen-led initiatives, and pledged to continue the Commission's close cooperation with Parliament on this issue.
Europe has a long-term plan to stimulate growth and create jobs – it's called the Europe 2020 strategy – but failure to properly involve all levels of government in preparing and implementing national strategies is undermining our best efforts, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič told members of the Committee of the Regions on Wednesday.
Speaking at the meeting of the CoR Bureau – made up of leading members from local and regional authorities across the EU – V-P Šefčovič welcomed the commitment from sub-national government to help get Europe back on the path to growth through a deeper involvement in the rolling out on the ground of the Europe 2020 strategy.