The huge bureaucracy called the European Union has 31 agencies, which are supposed to provide studies on issues ranging from drug addiction to trademark registration and police co-operation. Like most other EU institutions, these overstaffed and overpaid agencies, located in different member countries, live in a fantasy world of their own, without any connections to the real world of crisis and austerity measures.
Finally though, the European Court of Auditors is putting some pressure on these mostly useless institutions. According to a report sent by the Court to the European Parliament 11 of the 22 surveyed agencies could e.g. not properly account for half of their expences!
The EUobserver has more on the report:
The report - sent on Wednesday (15 February) to the European Parliament and seen by EUobserver - analyses the costs, financial management and "operational efficiency" of 22 out of the EU's 31 autonomous agencies.
As most of the bodies' budgets are based on EU subsidies, the Court of Auditors looked at their book-keeping practices and found that "increased vigilance is required in respect to the establishment of an agency's budget."
Eleven out of the 22 surveyed could not properly account for half the expenses they filed in 2010, the auditors found.
Another problem are the large "management boards" of some agencies - normally comprising around 30 representatives of member states, the European Commission, industry stakeholders and observers.
Three agencies mainly dealing with social and labour-related studies employ 84 members each on their respective management boards, as each country sends one government representative and two more representing employers and workers.
The auditor's report comes only a few days after Belgian eurosceptic MEP Derk Jan Eppink wrote a stinging analysis of how two other mini-institutions - the Brussels-based Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) waste huge sums of taxpayers´money.
Here is a summary of Mr. Eppink´findings:
Over the last eight years, the budgets of the EESC and CoR will have increased by some 50 percent, reaching €130 million and €86.5 million, respectively. There are around 50 officials at each committee with a minimum salary of €123.890 and six officials at each committee earning over €180,000 - more than the Dutch or UK prime minister.
Over half of the EESC's and the CoR's annual budgets are devoted to their members' expenses, travel costs and staff salaries and pensions.
In 2010, the 344 EESC members produced 181 opinions, which when divided with the annual budget means each opinion came at an average cost of €660,000, while no information is made available regarding how these opinions influenced legislation. If they did so at all.
Average travel expenses per member were €49,000, while a scheme whereby members receive 'lump sums' per meeting attended - without the need to prove they actually incurred the expenses - will still be in use until 2015. Why not now? The EESC remains elusive.
The main mandate of both committees is to "engage participation" from citizens. But there are many indications that neither committee is successful in this.
This is the kind of information that mainstream media should provide to their readers in the various EU member countries. Regrettably the majority of media mainly follow the agenda set by the Brussels spin doctors. Kudos to the EUobserver for highlighting these important reports!