Excessive cuts to EU admin bill will 'damage citizens first'
Excessive and unreasonable cuts to the EU's administration budget, as called for by some Member States, will risk breaking the EU machinery and hit citizens first, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič warned on Wednesday (6 February).
Speaking after a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the preparations for this week's European Council, which will discuss the EU's long-term budget (or multi-annual financial framework, MFF, as it is known), V-P Šefčovič criticised the "excessive" focus on administration costs by some national governments.
"Administration costs are just 6% of the MFF, so to focus so much on this is excessive," he said. "We need a top quality, professional, independent and geographically balanced EU civil service, as we are constantly being asked to do more, and in 23 languages. Indeed, translation costs alone account for 15% of the admin budget!"
V-P Šefčovič underlined that EU civil servants were being asked to do ever more diverse and complicated jobs – examining national budgets under the European Semester, negotiating trade deals, fighting legal battles at the European Court of Justice.
"Any Member State, any company, any law firm sends their best people to Brussels, to Strasbourg, to Luxembourg; but ask them how much those people are paid, and they won't tell you! But I can tell you it is more than get back home, reflecting their quality, their language skills, their hard work."
He ended with a call to heads of state and government not to "break the EU machine". He stressed that reform of the civil service in 2004 has already brought cumulative savings of €10bn, and that new reforms will see EU staff working longer hours and retiring later than most Member States. Proposed cuts of 2,500 jobs are more than the entire staff of the ECJ, he added.
"Do we want a situation where regional development is delayed, where the quality of EU investments is reduced, where nothing is translated, where we have legal uncertainties because of an even bigger backlog at the ECJ? For marginal savings, we risk creating real structural damage that will above all impact citizens!"