This article is part of our special report Efficient EU budget 2014-2020.
The European Commission will cut 368 jobs across all its services as part of the EU’s 2015 spending plans. But there will be no redundancies, with the quota being filled by not replacing staff that leave the executive.
The Commission said the overall reduction would increase to 508 fewer officials through the delegation of tasks to executive agencies. The agencies help the Commission manage EU projects for fixed periods of time.
The cuts, part of a commitment to lower staff numbers by 1% every year until a 5% overall target is reached, will save about €23 million. It is the third cut in three years. The Commission employs about 33,000 workers, according to its website.
Since 2013, 1,011 staff have been taken off the executive’s payroll. The reductions are part of a response to calls for greater efficiency following the financial crisis.
EU Budget Spokesman Patrizio Fiorilli said, “ In simple terms, we will do more with less as staff reduction coincides with more duties for the EU, such as monitoring the European banking sector.”
In 2013, rules for Commission staff were changed. The minimum number of working hours was raised to 40 hours a week, without additional compensations. Retirement ages were raised, and a clause to partially suspend wage and pension clauses in times of economic crisis introduced.
What else is in the budget?
The draft budget includes spending worth €142.1 billion, an increase on the projected 2014 levels of €1.3 billion. 40% of the spending is to cover debts for EU funded projects for 2007-2013.
Spending is €2.5 billion lower than the 2013 budget but 40% of 2015 spending is to cover debts for EU funded projects in 2007-2013.
With legal pledges to provide finance and other commitments, the total budget is €145.6billion.
The Commission said, “The proposed increase of 2.1% in commitments and 1.4% in payments is virtually absorbed by the estimated inflation rate for 2015.”
Measures to boost economic growth and employment were given 29.5% more money compared to 2014. These include Horizon 2020, the Connecting Europe Facility for energy, transport and ICT and the Youth Employment Initiative.
The lion’s share of payment appropriations goes to areas that boost Europe’s economic growth and jobs) such as research (Horizon 2020), trans-European networks for energy, transport and ICT (Connecting Europe Facility) or the Youth Employment Initiative.
Other areas that see an increase in payments are the asylum, migration and integration fund (+140%) and protecting Europeans’ health and consumers (+20%).
Structural funding for the EU’s poorer regions is cut by 5% but at €51.6 billion, but is still the largest sole spending item.
The Commission yesterday (12 June) adopted the 2015 draft budget. Both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament must adopt their respective positions on it before agreeing a compromise deal during a 21 day conciliation period.
The executive has requested extra cash in the last two years to plug funding gaps. It proposed nine amendments to the budget last year, worth more than €15 billion.
EU budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said yesterday, “Combining the legacy of the past with helping Europe recover from the crisis, and this with scarcer resources […]The 2015 draft budget […] manages to take into account present and future major issues such as the Ukrainian crisis or the need to strengthen the EU’s energy security by refocusing its scarce resources.”
Every member state contributes a percentage of its VAT and 1% of its gross national income to the budget.The Commission claims the European Union cost each of the 500 million people living in it €0.64 a day.
At a summit on 8 February 2013, EU leaders reached agreement on a €960 billion multi-annual financial framework, the EU's long term budget, representing the first net reduction to the EU budget in history.
On 27 June, hours before the beginning of the EU summit, the three institutional top officials announced what appeared to be a final compromise.
Lawmakers approved a compromise struck on 4 July 2013 on the budget, which covers 2014 to 2020. But a dispute over the 2014 budget sowed doubt over whether it would be sealed in time for 1 January 2014, until 12 November, when the EU institutions reached a compromise in the ‘trilogue’ talks.
The 2015 budget spending worth €142.1 billion. With legal pledges to provide finance and other commitments, the total budget is €145.6billion.