• MEP Paul Nuttall has hit out at EU hypocrisy over the cost of quangos. His comments follow a briefing by Open Europe showing that the cost of EU quangos to European taxpayers has risen by 33% over two years and now stands at €2.64bn.
“This is a prime example of the EU wasting money on funding more bureaucracy while demanding other people and our own Government cut spending,” said Mr Nuttall, local Euro-MP and UKIP deputy leader.
“It is plain that when the EU demands spending cuts it excludes itself – what utter hypocrisy.
“The UK taxpayer has been the fall-guy funding the EU for too long. The best way the UK can save money is to stop giving this wasteful EU 50million pounds a day,” he said.
Mr Nuttall’s remarks come ahead of tomorrow’s (Wed) publication of the EU Commission’s proposed budget for 2013 which is expected to call for an increase in spending.
Open Europe has published an updated briefing assessing the effectiveness and cost of the EU’s 52 agencies and committees. The total cost to European taxpayers of these bodies now stands at €2.64bn (£2.17bn), up 3.4% from last year and a massive 33.2% compared with 2010.
This comes as UK Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander announces that government departments at home will have to find even more cuts.
Open Europe research analyst Pawel Swidlicki said, “While some of these EU quangos perform valuable work, many others serve no practical purpose whatsoever apart from soaking up taxpayers’ money. Ironically, many of these bodies would never have survived the type of austerity programmes that the EU is now drawing up for member states as Europe fights through its worst crisis in a generation.”
The total cost of EU agencies to European taxpayers now stands at €2.64bn (£2.17bn), up 3.4% from last year and a massive 33.2% compared with 2010. Over 90% of this comes from EU member states (the rest from non-EU member states such as Norway) – with the UK paying around €362m (£298m) this year, Germany paying €490m and France paying €386m.
There are currently 52 EU quangos, double the number in 2004.
Some agencies, such as the European Chemicals Agency, help to facilitate trade in the single market or to pool expertise. However, many agencies add little or no value while duplicating the work of each other, the core EU institutions, member states’ organisations and civil society. For example, there are currently two EU agencies specifically dedicated to human rights in addition to similar bodies in member states, the Council of Europe, the ECtHR, a specific EU Commissioner for “fundamental rights” and a range of NGOs.
Others have no impact on policy whatsoever. For example there is no evidence that the €129m a year Economic and Social Committee, an “advisory” body that has existed since the 1950s, has actually altered the outcome of an EU proposal in recent years, and yet it remains in place.
As an evaluation for the European Commission concluded, the system of EU agencies also “creates an indirect but powerful incentive for spending” taxpayers’ cash. For example:
The European Environment Agency (EEA) paid a consultancy firm €250,000 in order to assess its own media coverage. The EEA also spent €300,000 on a ‘living map’ of Europe, created from 5,000 plants affixed to the outside wall of its headquarters in Copenhagen in order to promote biodiversity. The facade stayed up for around 5 months in 2010. On its website, the EEA said it wanted to “illustrate the significance of vertical gardens.”
Each board meeting of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – whose mandate already overlaps with that of another EU agency, and whose board only consists of 15 people – costs €92,630 on average, working out at €6,175 per member.
Open Europe has identified at least ten agencies that serve no unique purpose and ought to be abolished. Most of the remaining should but cut by 30%, saving EU member states just over €668m (£566.4m) every year, with the UK saving €100.4m (£82.6m), France saving €107.3m and Germany saving €136m.
In parallel, all agencies should be given strict performance targets and funding should then be dependent on whether these are met.