Officials in the EU will receive a 5.5 per cent tax cut in January - an object lesson on how to appear out of touch, arrogant and against the interests of all European citizens during these austere times, warns UKIP MEP Derek Clark on Public Service Europe.
•To get off the Eurostar at the Gare du Midi in Brussels is a chastening experience. On the place Victor Horta where sleek officials and lobbyist line up to get their taxis, there is a strong aroma of urine and alcohol. Knots of the dispossessed mill around, begging for a cigarette. Across the city, large areas are suffering from the financial crisis just like most other major cities on the continent.
But it seems quite clear that the men and women in the queue are immune to the crumpled faces and dirty clothes of their fellow humans. For when they get to the shiny palaces of the Eurocracy, they set about proving that they live and work the bubble existence. On the November 22, the plethora of Eurocrat trade unions will be going on strike. Their reasons? According to Félix Géradon, deputy secretary general of these unions, the Union Syndical, it is in order to "send a message to European Union leaders that we will not tolerate cuts to the administrative budget".
It might well do that, but as they live in the bubble the unions cannot see beyond it to see how it will play, not among the pampered 30,000 EU officials but amongst the hundreds of millions of European citizens who are today suffering the consequences of the eurozone crisis. They will sit their mouths bouncing along the floor as they see the pampered elite of Brussels demand recognition for their hard work on ' fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of the EU policy and administration as a whole'. Yes, you know that historically recognised fairness and efficiency that is seeing millions out of work - that is seeing rises in ethnic violence and suicide rates.
And it gets worse. At the same time that these bourbon unions are throwing their toys and reputations out of the pram, along comes an effective 5.5 per cent pay rise with which to stir the pot. Essentially, in 2004 a temporary levy was applied upon the wages of EU civil servants that in 2011 amounted to 5.5 per cent of the basic salary. The levy is to run out in January, therefore amounting to all intents and purposes to a 5.5 per cent tax cut for all officials.
The fact that this levy is to be terminated at the end of this year has been known since October 2002, so one might think that something might have been done about it. But no, despite the European Commission calling for it to be extended - indeed increased - and the European Parliament grudgingly coming to a compromise, it appears that the European Council has failed to act. And so with only one European Council meeting to go - barring further emergency summits of course - between now and January the likelihood is that the levy will go.
Some might suggest that as it is officials at the council who set the agenda for council meetings, they may have a vested interest in keeping this subject off the list. Who knows? But as an object lesson on how to appear out of touch, arrogant and against the interests of all European citizens - the double whammy of tax cuts and strikes must be hard to beat. The EU does itself no favours. The contempt of the huddled figures on Place Victor Horta is well deserved.