Next MFF: What about European public administration costs?

Brussels, 19 October 2020

Next MFF

What about European public administration costs?

Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises. (Jean Monnet)

At the beginning of the 21st century, the world is plunged into a health crisis for which the remedy and the vaccine are still in the experimental stage, whereas we might have deem this to be impossible, taking into account the advances in medicine and scientific research. However, the crisis not only claimed thousands of victims worldwide, but it has also generated an unprecedented economic crisis, leaving homes and businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. Moreover, there is an ecological crisis and the need to revise our lifestyles and working methods in order to favour the use of digital technology.

Through its communications ( link ), R&D, assisted by a task force of fellow economists, informed staff of the progress of discussions regarding the next MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) and indicated the priorities that we believe should be retained.

We welcomed the fact that the European Commission, through the voice of our President, Ursula von der Leyen, had the ambition to propose in May 2020 a multiannual budget 2021-2027 of 1.85 trillion euros or 1.1 trillion euros intended for the MFF and 750 billion euros intended for the “Next generation EU” program to help the European Union in rebuilding itself as well as to support innovations in the green and digital transition.

We regretted the Council’s decision to revise downwards the MFF’s budget proposal by 26 billion euros, or 1.8243 trillion euros, while the European Parliament intended to increase it by 200 billion euros.

The Council’s position is “a hard pill to swallow” as our President has so clearly indicated, especially as the climate, digital technology and Horizon Europe have been hit hard by this decrease. Faced with the July Council deal, MEPs even threatened not to approve the next budget.

Let it be said, let it be done

On Thursday 8 October, MEPs kept their promise and stopped ongoing discussions with Member States refusing to increase the budget for the multiannual financial framework at the risk of delaying the “Next generation EU” recovery plan. MEPs believe that the extra 9 billion proposed by the German presidency fall short ( link ). The trilogue should therefore resume in the coming days. R&D sincerely hopes that Member States will come to their senses by being more realistic about the means they say they want to commit for a Union that truly protects its citizens.

What about European public administration costs?

In the 2021-2027 multiannual budget, heading 7, which covers the costs of European public administration, amounts to 73.1 billion euros, or 6.8 % of the MFF, outside the “Next generation EU.” As a reminder, this envelope amounted to 69.6 billion euros, or 6 % of the 2014-2020 multiannual budget.

During the “On-line talk: How the EU budget is being shaped?” organized by the European School of Administration – we must salute in passing the excellent work of our colleagues who organize very good debates open to all staff on different subjects -, Andreas Schwarz, Director at DG BUDG , was questioned on the budget share allocated to European public administration.

Not only was Mr. Schwarz’s expertise appreciated but also his very clear explanations and answers to the various questions asked by the participants.. We invite you to see or review this “On-line talk” ( link ).

To the question “Why is the budgetary share allocated to public administration so low? Is this due to the lack of the ‘new dimension’ or is there another reason? “. The Director replied that in the MFF the budgetary share allocated to public administration amounts to 70.8 billion euros and that the counter argument amounts to 73.1 billion euros. He recalled that this amount is based on “real prices” as well as the rate of inflation. According to him, the budget will not require cuts and will allow the continuity of staff development as well as that of salaries, while stressing that given the current circumstances many people have lost their jobs and feel insecure in the various Member States.

Therefore, it will not be necessary to reopen the Staff Regulations linked to the MFF!

Therefore, it is clear that, were they were not called into question before their adoption, the budgetary perspectives for heading 7 would not require a new reform of the Staff Regulations.

From a budgetary point of view, this confirms the assurances given on the political level by Commissioner Hahn and for which we would like to thank for once again, having ruled out that the Commission could immediately consider presenting a proposal for reform in connection with the COVID crisis.

It is equally clear that the requests addressed by certain MS to the Commission proposing a new reform of the Staff Regulations are based solely on the demagoguery of certain politicians who want to divert the attention of their electorate by continuing to attack the European public service. They are well aware, however, that the attractiveness of our public service decreases year after year and do not hesitate to complain about it. This is not the first time they contradict themselves in order to carry out their destructive project. Any pretext is good… There is nothing as narrow as a narrow mind…

Indeed, R&D has already formally denounced on various occasions and the Commission has finally acknowledged the harmful effects of the reforms, which have been following one another since 2004 on the attractiveness of our administration and the Court of Auditors itself, underlined, in turn, the unreasonable scale of the cuts imposed by the last reform of 2014.

R&D stands on guard and keeps analysing very closely the dire consequences from the previous reforms of 2004 and 2014. We will remain vigilant and very attentive to the evolution of staff and / or real estate policies, so that these cannot further degrade working conditions, a degradation that is a psychosocial risk factor well identified by experts.

R&D will soon publish an in-depth analysis of these risks. We hope that our administration will take up over the findings of this analysis for the benefit of its staff.

Labor demands the elite of humans (Seneca)

R&D welcomes the proposal from MEPs of 14 October 2020 to reinforce the budget for EU flagship programmes by 39 billion euros ( link ) and supports the ambition of our Institution, based on the founding values of the EU, to come to the aid of the victims of this health crisis and to build a better future for the next generations. We hope that this creative impetus will sensitize Member States and that they will choose the right path leading them to the human path and not that of budgetary restriction.

The ball is now in the hands of MEPs and Member States!

Cristiano Sebastiani,

President

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