Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

EU diplomats to spend more on salaries, less on security

  • EEAS chief Catherine Ashton - deep cuts in security tabled next year (Photo: eu2012.dk)

The EU diplomatic service is to pay €15 million extra in wages next year, but to make deep cuts on security.

Its draft 2014 budget - circulated internally on 3 April and seen by EUobserver - says it is "fully aware of the severe economic and financial constraints" in Europe and speaks of "value for money for the European taxpayer."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It calls for overall spending of €530 million - €21 million, or 4.1 percent more than this year.

On one hand, it aims to make €5.7 million of cuts to salaries: by axing 17 junior posts; by downgrading 14 senior posts; by ending wage top-ups in foreign embassies; and by reducing leave for embassy staff.

But on the other hand, it is setting aside an extra €15.2 million for what it calls "mandatory increases in the remunerations of statutory staff."

It also plans to create several new mid-level officials.

On security, it aims to pay €4.5 million extra for bodyguards in at-risk embassies "due to the security situation in an increasing number of countries and inflation in the price of private security services."

But there are deep cuts in other areas.

It is to trim €2.5 million - 23 percent - from secure IT networks in its Brussels HQ. It is to cut another €1.5 million from HQ building security, surveillance and "fitting-out and security works."

It also aims to lower "costs for guarding delegation buildings … and security works in delegations" by €5.1 million.

The budget paper notes that "a review of actual threats has allowed for a reduction in the security scheme" in Brussels.

It says the IT cuts will come from "rationalising disparate and competing systems."

It aims to ditch the so-called Solan encrypted network used by EU countries to send classified files in Brussels, in favour of an in-house network.

A spokesman said part of the wage increase is money earmarked in case it loses court cases against trade unions in prior salary disputes.

He declined to comment on the wisdom of the security cuts.

Whatever the details, the overall hike is unlikely to go down well in some EU capitals.

Richard Ashworth, a British MEP from the ruling Conservative Party who sits on the European Parliament's budget committee, told this website: "At a time when national governments are looking for savings across the board, the public is entitled to expect savings in the EU institutions as well."

On the "mandatory" salary hikes, he added: "Try telling the man in the street: 'Sorry guvnor, but our hands are tied on this'."

For its part, the European Parliament is also seeking a hike of 3.6 percent in 2014.

But the EU Council, the member states' secretariat in Brussels, is to ask for just 1.2 percent more - the rate of inflation.

The EU foreign service's budget paper shows one reason why it has a high salary bill.

Out of its 950 officials, 552 - or 58 percent - are on the AD12 or higher pay grade, with basic monthly wages of €10,300 to €18,400.

By way of comparison, the proportion of top-earners in the European Commission is 38 percent.

EU agencies rebuked over spending

An MEP tasked with looking at how EU money is spent in the bloc's 24 independent agencies has caused a stir with her preliminary findings on conflicts of interest and questions about whether the agencies are useful.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

News in Brief

  1. EU states make progress on Covid-19 'travel certificates'
  2. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  3. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  4. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  5. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  6. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  7. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  8. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us