Wednesday

29th Mar 2017

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Analysis

From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Opinion

Birthday wishes to the European Union

With the EU soon to celebrate its 60th birthday, there are still lingering questions about the bloc's future and whether there can be a change in fortune.

News in Brief

  1. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  2. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  3. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  4. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  5. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  6. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  7. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  8. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans