EU officials went on strike on Tuesday to protest against potential cuts in their salaries and pensions. The protest came only two days before European leaders are due to meet in Brussels to agree on the next 7-year EU budget.
‘We are here because at the end of the week, the Council will decide the budget for the European Union and we are afraid that some cuts will really put in danger the capacity of the European Union to stand for the principle, for the citizens and for its policies’, chairman of the Center Staff Committee Cristian Sebastiani said.
‘Europe will not exist with a very strong, competent and independant public service’, DG Enterprise & Industry Principal administrator Antonio Lacerda said.
‘Our first concern today is not our salaries, it’s the future of the European Union. We are here for more than our salaries. We are here to serve a project, to serve a dream and we want this dream to be kept alive’, chairman of the Center Staff Committee Cristian Sebastiani said.
The controversy began after British Prime Minister David Cameron said that EU salaries should be slashed to reflect current national austerity measures. Germany and the Netherlands also defend the idea.
EU officials, however, believe that they are being made the scapegoat of Europe. The administrative budget represents 6% of the total budget.
‘Cameron has political views on the EU. The budget is only an excuse. He wants to have a free market, not a political union, so he is doing his best in order to have a weak European Union, a weak civil service’, chairman of the Center Staff Committee Cristian Sebastiani said.
‘Cameron has promised a referendum on Europe. So I do think this is part of the political parties campaign. He has to convince those that are now flirting with the UK independence party so maybe this is a way for him to conquer those votes on a very demagogic and populistic way’, DG Enterprise & Industry Principal administrator Antonio Lacerda said.
For its part, a German newspaper published over the weekend claims that some EU staff get more money than German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the European Commission on Monday rejected such allegations and said that the comparison was “totally unfair”.
But an EU spokesperson refused to disclose information about payments of any specific EU employee, including top public figures.
“Not one EU official, including all their allowances, gets more than Chancellor Merkel, including all her allowances,” European Commission’s spokesperson Antony Gravili said.
Basic Commission salaries range from around €2,300 per month for a newly recruited official to around €16,000 per month for a top-level official with more than four years of seniority.
Earlier in November, EU officials also went on strike for the same reason. The unions estimated that 3,000-4, 000 EU staff members took part in the protest.