SP: Luxury pay and conditions of EU officials must be reviewed

29 February 2012

SP: Luxury pay and conditions of EU officials must be reviewed

In the SP’s view adjusting the luxury pay and conditions enjoyed by EU officials to reality has become an urgent necessity. ‘In the past working in Brussels was something exotic, whereas nowadays there’s much less difference between that and working for a national civil service,’ SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong points out. ‘So there’s every reason to put an end to all of the unnecessary expenses paid to EU officials, certainly in the light of the current economic crisis and the sacrifices being demanded of ordinary men and women throughout Europe. Hopefully this would lead also to fewer people spending their whole lives working in Brussels, and more mobility between the EU institutions and national administrations.’

De Jong particularly has it in for the ‘expatriate bonus’, which adds 18% - almost a fifth – to the total salary. “It’s madness that someone who spends his or her entire working life in Brussels gets a bonus every year to help them settle in,” says De Jong. “This particular bonus could actually be completely abolished, because removal and other costs are reimbursed separately. This would, however, probably not win majority support in the European Parliament. So instead I’ve put a proposal to the Budgetary Control Committee that the bonus be lowered to 10% and limited to two years.” Other bonuses should, the SP argues, also be investigated with a critical eye.

De Jong also proposes that the entire salary structure and promotions policy be revised. “The salary should provide a much better reflection of good service and specialist knowledge,” De Jong argues. “As things stand too many officials are given automatic advancement." The SP also wants to see stricter rules to prevent conflicts of interest on the part of officials, and whistle-blowers offered better protection.

The proposals come in reaction to Commission plans to reform the statute for officials. The issue is also connected to the ruling by the European Court of Justice that declared the existing system of salary increments to be sacrosanct, making it impossible to freeze remuneration in response to times of economic crisis.

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