The European Commission will present the 2012 EU’s Draft Budget in April. The Commission is expected to reflect in the budget the Member States economic and budgetary restraints. In the meantime, Janusz Lewandowski, Commissioner responsible for Financial Programming and Budget, has recently sent a letter to all EU institutions asking them to cut their administrative budgets in 2012, in line with Member States austerity policies, which include cuts in administrative expenditure. He said that they “cannot ignore the broader economic and budgetary context.”
The administrative expenditure includes expenditure for human resources (salaries, allowances and pensions) as well as expenditure for buildings, equipment, energy, communications, and information technology. The EU administrative costs amounted €7.6bn in 2009, €7.8bn in 2010 and are set to amount €8.2bn this year. They represent around six per cent of the EU budget. It has been said, “it is not much.” It might not be much comparing to other expenditures, but Brussels has not kept these costs as low as possible and has been wasting taxpayers’ money.
The European Commission is planning to increase its administrative expenditure below 1% in 2012, compared to 2011. According to Janusz Lewandowski, in order to reach this aim, the Commission is set to make “significant cuts in expenditure for IT, meetings, conferences and missions as well as studies and publications.” In his letter, Mr Lewandowski asked the other EU Institutions to do the same, as according to him “That would send a positive signal to the European public opinion, demonstrating that the European institutions are acting responsibly in the light of the difficult economic and budgetary conditions.” One cannot forget that at a time of severe strain on the majority of Member States’ public finances, the 2011 EU’s budget foresees €126.5 billion in payments, amounting to a 2.9% increase on 2010. The Commission plans to limit administrative expenditure are too little too late.
According to the EUobserver, Patrizio Fiorilli, the spokesman for EU budgets commissioner, said “We have to show some solidarity,” It is not just a matter of solidarity, the waste of taxpayers’ money is unacceptable. Even if there wasn’t a debt crisis the EU should cut its administrative expenditure.
A European Parliament’s document “The responses to the discharge questionnaire 2009” provides a never-ending list of examples where taxpayers money has been wasted. It is not difficult, therefore, to find examples of administrative expenditure that should be cut or, in fact, scrapped.
The European Parliament has three working places, Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. In 2009, 7 052 missions were carried out between Luxembourg and Brussels at a total cost of €1 910 263. The “travelling circus” to Strasbourg costs, per each plenary session, €9 705 317. During the 2008 summer break, part of the ceiling of the Strasbourg hemicycle collapsed. Due to the reconstruction work, the first two plenary sessions after the summer recess took place in Brussels rather than Strasbourg. It has been estimated that the European Parliament has saved around €1.731.086 million by having two plenary sessions in Brussels.
Attention should be drawn to the European Parliament’s limousine service for transporting MEPs around Strasbourg and Brussels which cost, in 2009, €3.6 million. As regards MEPs official travel €26,960,000 was spent from July till December 2009. Moreover, according to the document abovementioned “In 2009 a contract was awarded for ballistic protection for the Members for a total of EUR 53.880,00.” The European Parliament justified the purchase of bulletproof jackets saying MEPs need them, for security reasons, during certain delegations. But one could wonder how manyMEPs and staff participate on such delegations to justify such amount.
The document also reports that, in 2009, the European Parliament’s officials carried out 1 939 missions at a total cost €9 949 415. Moreover, they had a lot of beverages, as the European Parliament spent €226 507 694 in beverages for meetings.
A total of €10.368.700 was spent, in 2009, by the European Parliament Information Offices “on communication with citizens”, meaning on EU propaganda.
The European Commissioners have also been travelling around the world at taxpayers’ expense. According to the EU budget Commissioner, the Commission is planning to cut costs on missions abroad. It is important to mention that the European Commissioners’ mission expenses (travel expenses), during 2009, have cost the EU’s taxpayers over €3.5 million. Taxpayers also paid €355,338 in receptions and representation costs for the European Commissioners.
These are just few examples of how Brussels has been wasting our money. We should also bear in mind the huge salaries, residence allowances, monthly entertainment allowances of the European Commissioners. For instance, Barroso has cost EU taxpayers, in 2009, over €1.0 million, and the President of the European Council,Mr Van Rompuy, cost, in 2010, €6m, including salary (£273,814), staff and travel expenses.