February 10th, 2013 • The Dutch Vice-President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, didn’t need long to react to the agreement on the EU’s multi-annual budget reached by the heads of government at last Friday’s European Council. She found this such an important theme that it shouldn’t be left to politicians alone. Regardless of what one may think of the substance of her critique, this is a remark which is characteristic of the Eurocrat: arrogance and a disgust with ordinary people in Europe, or at least those who don’t sing the European hymn. It is the same attitude as that shown this week by my fellow Euro-MPs when they rejected my proposals to put an end to the practice of ‘reimbursing’ expenses without the need to produce receipts. Brussels remains cocooned, indifferent to what is happening outside and mostly busy with its own affairs and on behalf of its own interests. It’s high time that we cut a swathe through this Eurocracy.
The heads of government did not act decisively, as the SP would have preferred to see them do, reducing the pointless pumping back and forth of moneys from the member states to the EU and back again, and ensuring that the funds which are the subject of this wastefulness are used only to aid truly poor member states and to promote innovation. To that extent I understand Kroes’s critique of the substance of the accord. It’s just that it isn’t right for a European Commissioner, the holder of an unelected position, to shove elected leaders of governments out of the way as if they were so many amateurs. These same leaders can be sent packing if they lose the support of their national parliaments, while individual Commissioners still can’t be kicked out by the European Parliament. So it wouldn’t disgrace these Commissioners if they were to tone it down a bit.
The same goes for my fellow MEPs, as long as there are representatives of the people (!) who refuse to submit to 100% financial monitoring, for example, or who demand that they must be able to continue to make use of a chauffeurs’ service. In such ways they place themselves beyond reality, a reality in which in Europe poverty is growing by the day.
Lastly, we shouldn’t forget the officials at the European institutions. They were once again this week standing with placards in Strasbourg while their colleagues in Brussels went on strike, because they feared they would have to give something up. Luckily the heads of government took no notice of the protests and EU officials’ salaries will be frozen for two years. If you consider the fact that thousands of these officials earn more than our Prime Minister, this is still no more than a small step in the right direction. I have previously proposed that their salaries be halved, and if it doesn’t suit them then in my view they can pack their bags. Then we could make do with seconded national civil servants, which would not only be somewhat cheaper, but would prevent people from settling down into their Brussels cocoon and losing touch with the rest of Europe.
Cutting a swathe through the Eurocracy: it’s high time. As far as I’m concerned we should be taking a really critical look at how the European Commission has become a Eurocratic and arrogant stronghold and sweeping through the entire institution. And as for the Euro-MPs, let’s devise a test for the coming European elections, due next year, and ask every candidate the question of whether he or she would maintain the present system of ‘reimbursement’ or is prepared to do what everyone else has to do, and give it up in favour of being reimbursed for what’s really been spent. If we want Europe to change, then we should be launching an all-out attack on the privileges enjoyed by all of these Eurocrats.