EU row erupts: Parliament cash demands sparks member state fury – ‘Ridiculous!’
Charles Michel hits out at 'extremist' parties in EU Parliament
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Eurocrats want to employ another 322 people next year to assist MEPs, according to a draft plan submitted in the negotiations over the EU’s 2022 budget. The Parliament “has foreseen 142 additional establishment plan posts and 180 external staff” for next year, it is said. The document makes clear that the Parliament is the EU’s only institution that has increased its staff during the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, the European Commission and Council have both remained below their 2012 levels for several years.
The paper references a “gentleman’s agreement” brokered in the 1970s that prevents member states from making changes to the EU Parliament’s budget.
It states: “The Council undertakes no amendments to the estimate of expenditure of the European Parliament.”
It has infuriated EU diplomats, who believe the over zealous demands are unwarranted when member states are trying to revive their pandemic-stricken economies.
One insider told the Politico website: “It’s utterly baffling.
“They ask for 322 new jobs. What are they doing? Especially at a time where member states are using every euro twice to return the economy to pre-crisis levels. They have just added a whole new floor to their ivory tower.”
A second diplomat labelled the demand as “ridiculous”.
And a third pointed out the Parliament already hires some 7,500 people to work in its general secretariat and for the political groups.
The Council only has around 3,500 people working for it to support the member states.
“With all that staff, what do they need new people for?” the diplomat asked.
Damian Boeselager, the MEP negotiating on behalf of the Parliament, said the demand for increased staff numbers was driven by recent cuts – and to adjust for an ever-growing workload.
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“Initially, I thought ‘we can’t do that’… and then I spoke to chairs, committee staffers,” he said.
“I realised there had been an approximately five percent cut of personnel every year and that shortage of staff in the committee secretariats had led to burn-outs and people having to take a break.”
He argued that the Commission had come up with a “bunch of new laws” and the Parliament is also working on its own plans, for projects like Frontex.
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“From a human perspective, I felt that it’s not fair to not see this need,” Mr Boeselager said.
A Parliament spokesman said the institution had “requested additional financial possibilities to internalise critical IT/security functions to ensure the EP’s increased resilience”.
The aide added that the cash “would also allow to cover for additional parliamentary assistance for MEPs”.
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