By Marta Andreasen MEP
"In the meantime negotiations for the 2011 Budget are ongoing and I see that both Parliament and Commission are not giving up their ambitions even when they can see that almost all the national governments are making significant cuts to their budgets. And the ambitions include not only the European External Action Service and the Supervisory Authorities but also salary increases for EU civil servants and more assistant allowance for MEPs."
The last two weeks have seen the EU bureaucracy speed up their agenda on their power grab, and the costs are now becoming apparent.
First there was a meeting in Madrid where the main details of the new European External Action Service (the EU foreign service) were agreed upon. A compromise was reached between the EU presidency (Spain in the chair), the three MEPs responsible for the file (Guy Verhofstadt, Elmer Brok and Robert Gualtieri) and Commission President Barroso. Immediately afterwards the Commission and the Parliament started to take steps to set up the structure.
Baroness Ashton, the high representative and head of the EEAS, wants £45 million per year whilst the operational cost could go up to £7 billion, depending on the policies and actions that the Service intends to take.
While the Commission repeatedly claims that this will be budget neutral, this is not the case.
Ashton will have her own support structure and this will not result in a reduction of the structure somewhere else in the bureaucracy. Then the question lies on how the delegations will be affected. Verhofstadt claims that the EU embassies will coexist with the member states' embassies. If this is the case, it is clear that the costs will be duplicated. But if it is not then we face losing our national representation to that of the EU. I would prefer the duplication because at least this will help maintain our national identities abroad. It is most probable that the saving in the EU budget resulting from non-duplication would never be given back to us, they can always find a new way to waste our money.
The other novelty that will attack national sovereignty and will cost us more money is the establishment of the European Supervisory Authorities. This is Europe's biggest project at the moment. Its importance was demonstrated last week in a trilogue meeting where Michel Barnier, the internal market Commissioner, and Didier Reynders, the Belgian minister of finance were both present at negotiations in the Parliament. Although final agreement on how much authority was to be given to the Authorities was still not agreed upon it looks as if they are close. The Authorities are to police the financial industry and prevent another crisis. Whether they are located in London, Frankfurt or Paris is only a detail, their seizure of power from the nations is what is significant. Judging from the inability to avoid the banking crisis and sovereign debt crisis I have trouble understanding how these bodies will help us out of these crisis or even avoid the next one.
It will be interesting to see the result of the stress-tests that major banking entities have undertaken and for which results will be published next Friday. I confess that I have little confidence in the transparency that will dominate such publication and the impact that this could have on the famous EU rescue package.
In the meantime negotiations for the 2011 Budget are ongoing and I see that both Parliament and Commission are not giving up their ambitions even when they can see that almost all the national governments are making significant cuts to their budgets. And the ambitions include not only the European External Action Service and the Supervisory Authorities but also salary increases for EU civil servants and more assistant allowance for MEPs.
The presentation of the budget proposals revolves around measures to get Europe out of the crisis and youth education appears to be the preferred emblem, except that I wonder where the highly educated youth will find a job if our industry and our services are being exported!!!