Le Lien - The Link

Pour un syndicalisme européen, citoyen, participatif et unitaire
Building a new kind of staff representation based on participation, unity and defense of the European project

Décember 2012 – n°29


Special budget talks

Summary :

• Foreword
• One step forward, two steps back!
• Partial assessment of the November 21 day of action
• The EU budget talks and their repercussions
• The budget savings contained in the Commission’s proposal for the reform of the Staff Regulations
• The proposal tabled by the Cypriot Presidency of October 29 2012
• The second proposal tabled by the President of the European Council of November 22 2012
• Sequel to the talks on the long-term financial framework
• Statements to the European Parliament in the context of the talks on the long-term financial framework
• Readers’ blog
• U4U team.

Have your say - Votre opinion Foreword


November witnessed demonstrations by the staff of the institutions on three occasions – November 8, 14 and particularly 21 – with strikes on November 8 and 21.

We were demonstrating against the draft budget outlined by the President of the European Council, which increases austerity and is destroying the process of building Europe. Our demonstration was in support of our call for a budget to support growth and solidarity.
We were demonstrating against the Council on the grounds that it had breached the law by refusing to apply its own regulations.

We were demonstrating against the attacks being made on a competent and independent public service. Apart from rejecting the completely unacceptable proposals made by David Cameron, who sees what he calls ‘Eurocrats’ as thieves, we were also objecting to the temptation to dump Heading V as a sacrificial victim with the aim of achieving political consensus. The Union needs a quality public service to effectively implement all the duties for which the Commission is responsible.

Europe is a future-oriented project, and cannot be trashed for short-term gain. This is why we are lobbying for a Commission which accepts its role as a dynamic political force, able to identify and promote the common interest in concert with the European Parliament.

The Commission had undertaken to withdraw your proposal for the reform of the Staff Regulations if it was in danger of being distorted or attacked by the Council. And it is the Council which, incapable of detailed discussion, has just inflated the bill by half a billion euros, even before negotiations open.

Surely now is the time to withdraw the proposal for the reform of the Staff Regulations. The institutions’ unions have tabled endless proposals for making savings without altering the Regulations. This would mean that the Commission would be sending a powerful signal expressive of its trust in the people who serve European policy and who need to be treated with dignity if they are to concentrate on the job which has to be done. The personnel of the institutions deserve better than to be sacrificed to the prejudices of the moment and populist accusations.


  One step forward, two steps back!  
On November 22/23 2012, the Member States yet again demonstrated their inability to come up in time with any solutions to rescue the continent from the ravages of the crisis. Their intellectual and political impotence goes hand-in-hand with displays of national selfishness which drive us further every day from the European goal, allowing us to drift back towards the darkest hours of European history in the twentieth century. Since the November summit was merely a disgusting pantomime revealing endless, mean-minded divisions, we shall have to meet again in January 2013.

Despite appearing to have the best of intentions, when the chips are down, the EP and the Commission prove themselves utterly incapable of reversing the trend. The difference between the EP and the Commission on the one hand, and the Member States on the other, is about 100 billion euros. This being the case, it might be hoped that these two institutions could limit the additional budget cuts which the Member States would like to impose.

The reason for their inability to act is twofold:

- the political independence of these two institutions with regard to the Council – including at management staff level – is undermined in the absence of powerful democratic legitimacy at European level, which would counterbalance their national foundations, which remain solid;

- on a theoretical and political level, the management of these institutions share the dominant approach adopted by the Member States: austerity, which is seen as the only way out. So what chance is there that radically different outcomes can be envisaged at European level? There is no doubt that from the European standpoint, the national solutions appear over-scrupulous, but is that enough in itself to provoke efforts to map out shared alternative policies? That is the question looming over this new century. The answer is so far unknown; we must live in hope, and that means continuing to act.


  Ambiguous objectives  

November was a very successful month as far as union action within the institutions is concerned. But the protest action was renewed against a background of some confusion, even still greater division. The 3 dates of this action – November 8, 14 (European action day) and 21 – clearly failed to achieve a really successful “all together” day. When the Council unions were all in favour of striking, it transpired that in the other institutions, particularly the Commission, the unions were not all in favour. And when the Commission unions finally did agree on a strike date, it was the Council unions who were out of step. Even so, the action did build up, although it failed to reach a climax, over the three rallies on November 8 and 14, and particularly 21.

What was most disturbing was that these actions in no way concealed the differences in approaches or even strategies. The defence of an adequate budget did not go as far as to criticise that of the Commission, while the EP was offering slightly more. For some people this was definitely a step forward, while for others this defence concealed a more corporate approach but one which was hard to implement. And lastly, some unions, particularly those of the Council, although not exclusively, openly – and even before negotiations began – approved both the reductions package proposed by the Commission and the first proposal tabled by Van Rompuy, for a billion and a half euros in savings, a questionable tactic which meant that everybody’s hopes were left in the hands of the Presidency of the Council. Contrary to this, other unions, including ours, made a clear statement of support for an ambitious budget, partly financed by own funds, higher than that of the EP, and rejecting any attack on the Public Service, which meant a refusal to accept not only the Council Presidency proposal, but also that of the Commission.

A rejection of austerity does not signify a refusal on our part to accept any reform or any savings whatsoever, still less efforts to achieve greater effectiveness. Along with other unions, U4U has put forward such reforms as it deems essential, both as regards career development and resource management, including a drastic reduction in inequality, insecurity and so on. U4U has added to this grand design reform of staff representation and operating systems, in order to generate virtuous savings.


  Partial assessment of the November 21 day of action  
With the exception of this Council, this action day was a reinforcement of November 8.

The strike movement mainly affected the Commission – an average of 40% according to our information, compared with barely 7% on November 8 – everywhere in Europe, including within some delegations.

At the EEAS, the strike was particularly taken up at head office (around 40%).

Some agencies also went on strike, as did sections of the Community institutions in Luxembourg.

Strangely, at the Council the strike was largely ignored, despite the aggravation of the Commission’s savings proposal – less than a billion € – from the Council presidency – €536 million in additional savings – while on November 8, 90% of Council staff answered the call.

Yet the united and inter-institutional rally of the afternoon of November 21 was attended, despite the bad weather, by around 4,000 of our colleagues, twice as many as the November 8 rally which was only called for on U4U/USHU/R&D/SFIE/SE/SFE/NEAR.

All in all, a day of action which was generally successful thanks to a greater level of inter-union united action and an improved angle of attack: a rejection of the move to reduce the Community budget, and a rejection of the attacks on the European Public Service.

In any case, you can read and see the official declarations, press comments, and the photographs of the various rallies, including those within the delegations, in edition No. 23 of the U4U Circular.


  EU budget talks and the repercussions on the EU  
U4U regrets the shouting match which dominated the budget discussions. The Member States produced a simultaneous display of a lack of political vision and overwhelming selfishness, demanding greater resources on smaller contributions. The language used by practically everybody was offensive, which is a pity. These kinds of meetings are not forgotten by the general public and set back the cause of European construction by years.

To find out more, see the document with the report on the Council meeting preparatory debate.

U4U would like to briefly but clearly set out the various proposals regarding the effects of budget negotiations on the workings of the EU and the EU institutions.


  The budget savings generated by the Commission’s proposal for the reform of the Staff Regulations  

The proposal for the reform of the Staff Regulations adopted by the Commission in December 2011 amends a number of rules applicable to EU public servants and agents with a view to generating savings in the administrative portion of the EU budget (Heading V of the financial prospects currently under discussion)

The main economy measures linked to the regulations affect the following areas:

- Pensions (starting age 65, with the almost complete abolition of early retirement);
- Creation of a new public servant category, AST/SC, for secretarial duties, with salaries significantly lower than AST;
- Limitation of AST careers to level 9;
- Power to recruit agents on contract, with 5-year contracts in the institutions;
- New method of adapting payments and the new tax regime, with the level reaching 6% over 7 years (compared with an average of 4% over the period 2004–2012);
- Downward revision of provisions for annual travel and accommodation expenses;
- Downward revision of provisions for removal expenses for public servants and agents;
- Increase in weekly working hours from 37.5 hours to 40 hours, without compensation and abolition of possible make-up provisions under the flexitime system;
- Sundry provisions affecting agencies.

In addition to the proposal for the reform of the Staff Regulations, the Commission intends to cut the number of public servants by 5% between 2014 and 2020 in all institutions.

Together, these proposals should generate budget savings of €1.3 billion between 2013 and 2020* and €1.13 billion over the long term , under Heading V of the Financial Perspectives.

It is worth noting that the European Parliament backed the European Commission proposals in the context of the ROTH-BERENDT report on the review reform of the Staff Regulations.

On July 6 2012 , the Commission adopted the long-term draft financial framework with €1033 billion, including the Heading V figures, the maximum amount of which is fixed at €63.165 billion.
(ref COM(2011) 890 du 13 décembre 2011)

* It should be noted that this figure is slightly lower over the FP period (2014-2020): €1.26 billion.


  The proposal by the Cypriot Presidency of October 29 2012  
In the wake of lengthy discussions with all the 27 and with a view to preparing for the European Council of November 22 and 23 2013, the Cypriot Presidency tabled a fresh proposal which was more restrictive than that of the Commission.

This set the budget maximum over the next 7 years at €983 billion (as against €1033 billion in the Commission project and €50 billion more in that of the EP). On average, the Presidency proposes to apply a reduction of 5% compared with the initial proposal. This reduction varies according to the budget headings.

The Cypriot proposal is not explicit when it comes to administrative costs. But it does, however, suggest that the average of the overall budget reduction, some €2.5 billion, be applied to administrative costs, with a low bracket. Even so, it established nothing in the summary table and left administrative costs at €63.165 billion.

This report includes a proposal to limit the cost of EU staff pensions and to revise the statutory provisions. In particular, this includes raising wealth tax, working hours, and retirement age, restructuring careers and rationalise benefits.

The Commission, and for a variety of reasons several Member States, rejected this proposal.


  The first proposal tabled by the President of the European Council of November 13 2012  
This proposal is lower than that of the Cypriot Presidency and stands at €950 billion for the 2014–2020 period. This proposal is lower than that of the European Commission by €80 billion.

As far as administrative costs are concerned, this proposal reduces the Commission proposal and fixes the Heading V sum at €62.629 billion (compared with €63.165 in the Commission proposal), thus adding a further cut of €536 million for administrative costs. The economy measures called for in this proposal are identical to those proposed by the Commission and the Cypriots.
It should be noted that the Commission has yet again opposed this proposal.


  The second proposal tabled by the President of the European Council of November 22 2012.  
In the wake of bilateral talks with the Heads of State and Government, the President of the Council presented a new framework financial proposal on November 22 2012.

Maximum expenditure under the new financial framework would be set at €973 billion over the 2014–2020 period, i.e. 23 billion more than in the previous proposal and would therefore be slightly lower than the Cypriot proposal.

On the question of administrative costs, President Van Rompuy is unwilling to go any further at this stage of the discussion, arguing the need to keep the institutions working and the certain opposition of the European Parliament.

The Heading V ceiling consequently remains at €62.629 billion. Even so, this is an increase on the initial Commission savings proposal of €500 million.


  Sequels to the talks on the long-term financial framework  
The summit was unable to take a decision as to the long-term financial framework .

Divisions between the States who have striven merely to defend their national interests remain deep.

The battle plan of the United Kingdom continues to be to retain its discount and take advantage of Europe, without paying.

It appears that to get around the British veto as regards the financial framework, a return to an annual budget adopted by a qualified majority, jointly legislated in concert with the European Parliament, might be a solution. All that would be needed would be to divide the overall amount approved by the majority by 7.

In the meantime, a further summit will have to be held at the beginning of next year, although no date has yet been set.

U4U remains vigilant to the workings of European policies and the EU institutions and will keep you abreast of developments. We shall continue to keep you informed, and will provide you with our commentary. It is worth noting that in the absence of the adoption of a reform package by the Council, when the current system terminates on December 31 2012, this will take the form of payment to institution staff of the revenue from the crisis levy.


  Statements to the European Parliament in the context of the talks on the long-term financial framework  
"... I do wonder, nonetheless, whether those who would also like to make deep cuts in administrative expenditure are really concerned about efficiency, in the sense of wanting to make the best possible use of the resources available, or whether their real aim is to weaken the institutions like the Commission and the Parliament. Because a swingeing cut in expenditure that represents less than 6% of the budget would have only a minimal effect on the overall savings being sought. We need an independent civil service in Europe, a high-calibre civil service to draft laws and develop projects to serve Europe as a whole." (Statement by President Barroso)

"The biggest waste is the salary they pay you" "The scandal, Mr Farage, is the income you collect from the Commission, because you are never there". "You cheat your own citizens." "And I hope that this will be aired on the BBC for once, or on some private British network" G.
(G. Verhofstadt talking about the British Euro-sceptics )

“High-quality, effective administration is impossible without proper funding. The proposals currently doing the rounds for a drastic cut in administrative expenditure can no longer be described as an adjustment – they are quite simply punitive. Is this really the way we want to go?”
(President Schultz – E.P. – during the same session)


  Courrier des lecteurs  
Ubu roi

Chers tous,
Juste un rapide courriel avant de rentrer après une autre journée au royaume d'Ubu Roi…
Malgré toute l'estime et l'amitié que je vous porte, je me sens obligé de vous dire ce que j'ai sur le cœur en tant qu'adhérent d'U4U : qu'est ce donc que cette cote mal taillée ? Une grève d'une demi-journée un mercredi après-midi …une traduction toute simpliste sera : "ils ne veulent pas perdre trop sur leurs salaires en faisant une journée complète de grève, et comme cela, ils peuvent garder leurs enfants et ne pas payer la garderie du mercredi après-midi……avec les salaires qu'ils reçoivent, c'est une honte"…
Nous ne sommes pas populaires, il faut s'y faire, mais surtout ne pas se prêter ainsi à la critique. En plus en une après midi le 21 novembre, qui gênons nous? PERSONNE
Quelle est donc notre visibilité : NULLE.
Faire grève, toutes institutions réunies PENDANT le Conseil européen, alors OUI, cela aurait un impact…
Obliger nos chers gouvernants à se débrouiller tout seuls pour communiquer et rédiger leurs actes, ça, ça voudrait la peine d'être vécu !
Et vous savez comme moi que, sur 2 jours, il y a moyen de contourner les réquisitions avec, par exemple, un préavis portant sur la période des 2 jours mais sur une durée indéterminée de grève : les représentants des États membres utilisent des méthodes "de voyous" vis-à-vis de nous, soyons assez intelligents pour répliquer avec des moyens inspirés des leurs.
À vous de voir ce que vous pourrez“voudrez faire de mes humbles suggestions.

NDLR : See here some answers

Pourquoi ne pas gêner le Conseil ?

On est nombreux à ne pas bien comprendre pourquoi le 21 novembre on se réunit devant la Commission et non pas devant le Conseil !!!
Si on accepte de faire la grève et d'avoir une 1“60 du salaire en moins, on veut faire pression sur l'institution qui bloque, par simple souci d'efficacité de notre action, non ?


Moi j'ai fait grève le 8 novembre, et j'ai honte de voir que seuls 5% de la Commission avait fait grève!!! On était seulement 2 à faire grève dans mon unité, et comme tous les collègues sont débordés de travail, ce fut un peu mal vu.
Je ne me vois pas recommencer ce mercredi 21, et personne ici n'a le temps de lire vos emails. La plupart ne sont pas des fonctionnaires et donc vivent la situation différemment…
J'espère que cette fois, les personnels vous suivront!


Vous ne trouvez pas que cela porterait plus durant le sommet? Aucun véhicule, possibilité de descendre dans la rue, tous les dirigeants seront au Conseil et en plus toute la presse européenne sera là.
A moins que vous ayez peur de faire trop de bruit?


Il faudrait repenser les méthodes de pression sur les décideurs. La grève "traditionnelle" risque d'avoir l'effet oppose car le public perçoit très mal ce type de revendication de la part du personnel des Institutions européennes. Il suffit de lire la presse suite à la grève du personnel du Conseil.

Communication inacceptable du CLP

I find your document absolutely unacceptable!
You cannot say in a document sent on behalf of the "Local Staff Committee" "Le libre accès à son lieu de travail est garanti au personnel non gréviste", pour ceux et celles qui ne croient pas devoir se soucier de leur avenir professionnel, celui de la Fonction publique européenne et du projet européen.
It is a scandal to take several thousands of committed and absolutely conscious staff hostage of the decision of a limited number of OSP to call for a strike. I ask for immediate remedy to the offence you made to us in writing and to all the staff having received the message of 7“11.
I reserve the right to proceed in the form I will consider the most appropriate to defend my reputation as EU official concerned by both the "Fonction publique européenne" and the "projet européen"

Answer from the CLP

On behalf of the bureau of the Local Staff Committee – Brussels, I would like to apologies for any offence which might have been caused by our message of 07 November concerning the strike of 08 November.
The text displayed in red hereunder, was only erroneously included and was never intended to be included as part of our message.
Indeed, our intention was only that of providing clear and impartial guidelines as requested by many colleagues over the previous days wanting to know their position - whether they chose to strike or not - as per the existing agreements between the Administration and union“staff representations regulations.
Again, our sincere apologies,
Daniela Mormile, Présidente du Comité Local du Personnel, Bruxelles, C.E.

"Or, l'article 43 de l'Accord-cadre fixe bien que "Le libre accès à son lieu de travail est garanti au personnel non gréviste", pour ceux et celles qui ne croient pas devoir se soucier de leur avenir professionnel, celui de la Fonction publique européenne et du projet européen." (Bureau du CLP, Commission, Bruxelles)
NDLR: Ci-dessus le texte du CLP de Bruxelles à tout le personnel avant le 8 novembre, date d'une grève à la quelle seule une partie des syndicats de la Commission avaient appelé. Le passage incriminé avait suscité une réprobation quasi unanime.

Croissance infinie

Chers collègues,
Croyez-vous que la croissance infinie est possible sur notre planète ? Nous partageons le même souhait, une croissance durable. Ce que me trouble c'est de miser sur la croissance comme moyen d'arriver à cet objectif, quand nous savons l'impossibilité physique de continuer d'augmenter l'usage sans cesse des ressources matérielles et énergétiques, c'est-à-dire la croissance.
Bon weekend,

A la recherche d'économies

Les principaux dirigeants européens feront le voyage à Oslo pour aller recevoir le prix Nobel. José-Manuel Barroso et Herman Van Rompuy seront du voyage, ainsi que le président du Parlement européen. Plusieurs dirigeants des 27 ont confirmé faire le déplacement notamment la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel et le premier ministre espagnol Mariano Rajoy. Pour fêter l’évènement, les ministres des Affaires étrangères ont décidé de terminer leur réunion par un dîner au service diplomatique européen (SEAE). La Haute représentante de l’UE pour les Affaires étrangères, Catherine Ashton, présidera aux festivités.
Ne pourrait-on économiser quelques euros en envoyant à Oslo un membre du personnel proche de la retraite (c'est à dire ayant vraiment mérité ce prix) et en encourageant leurs Excellences à se payer de leurs propres deniers un sandwich qu'ils dégusteront dans leurs bureaux respectifs ? En plus, ça allègerait le bilan carbone de la cérémonie.

Continuons la discussion sur le forum U4U


  Support U4U !  
To deal with the constant attacks against the statute, to fight against the institutionalization of job insecurity, to protest against the downgrading of our working conditions, us, the staff, must be strong and needs to rally together.

That is why we urge you to join U4U now. We need members that will support us; we need members to help us develop our positions and to carry out our actions.

Without your strong and determined membership we have limited influence as a union. The more we are united, the stronger we are and the more we are ready to rally people together.

Refuse to be a casualty of the politics revealed in the recent announcements made during the last European Council.

Join us ! Join U4U !


  U4U Team  
Georges Vlandas - Président

Jean Paul Soyer - Secrétaire général
Rafael Marquez Garcia - Secrétaire général - en charge de la proximité et du suivi des Collectifs par DGs d'U4U
Béatrice Thomas - secrétaire à la Communication
Alain Hubrecht - secrétaire à l'organisation

Kim Slama

Tomás García Azcarate - relations extérieures, rédacteur
en chef de la revue Graspe
Fabrice Andreone - Questions juridiques,
missions transversales, corédacteur de La Circulaire
Michel Stavaux - retraités,
Paul Clairet-débat intellectuel
Jacques Prade - précaires
Vlassys Sfyroeras - évolutions institutionnelles
Jacques Babot - 50+
Georges Spyrou - Ecoles Européennes
Agim Islamaj - affaires statutaires
Carmen Zammit - collègues post réforme 2004
Sylvie Vlandas - Formation

Gerard Hanney Labastille - site de Luxembourg
Sazan Pakalin - site d'Ispra.

Pierre Loubières - Eurocontrol
SEAE: Carole Ory (affaires statutaires), Maurizio Caldarone (affaires syndicales), Saturnino Munoz Gomez (courrier SEAE), Brunhilde Thelen (liens avec USHU)
Ute Bolduan, Bertrand Soret - SEAE hors Union

AGRI:Tomas Garcia Azcarate, Kim Slama
CCR: Ioannis Vlatis
CES: Alan Hick
CDR : Stavros Giatrakis
CLIMA : Yrjo Makela
COMM: Daniel Baruchel
CONNECT: Jacques Babot
DEVCO: Sthatis Dalamangas 
DGT: Catherine Vieilledent
EAC: Lisa Kyriakidis, Renato Girelli
EACEA: Jean Michel Boullier
EACI : Stefan Pagel
EAS, EPSO : Karine Auriol
ECHO : Jacques Prade
EMPL : Brigitte Degen
ENTR : Alain Liberos
ENV: Yvette Izabel
ERCEA: Herve Rousseau
ESTAT: Carmen Zammit
HOME: Giulia Amaducci, Marie Ange Balbinot, Michel Parys
HR: Marie Lagarrigue
JRC: Ioannis Vlatis
JUST: Julio Bernardo Garcia
MARKT : Agnès Lahaye
MOVE : Henri Ars
OIB : Antonio Panduccio
OLAF: Nicola Falcione
PMO : Cécile Jouan
REA: Nicolas Sakellion
REGIO : Benoît Nadler, Valeria Cenacchi, Georges Spyrou
RTD: Philippe Keraudren, Yves Dumont
SANCO: Isabelle Demade, Sandra Cavallo
SCIC: Virginie Papastamou
SG: Paul Simon
SJ: Arnaud Bordes
TRADE: Rafael Marquez Garcia, Alain Hubrecht
EUROCONTROL: Pierre Loubières
ISPRA : Sazan Pakalin
Luxembourg : Gérard Hanney-Labastille
Parlement Européen :
Retraités: Michel Stavaux
SEAE: Brunhilde Thelen, Dirk Buda
SEAE HU : Ute Bolduan, Bertrand Soret

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éditeur responsable: Georges Vlandas
responsable de la rédaction :  J.-P. Soyer
équipe de rédaction : Paul Clairet, Fabrice Andreone, Sylvie Vlandas, Alain Hubrecht,  Tomas Garcia Azcarate, Kim Slama, Gérard Hanney, Sazan Pakalin, Agim Islamaj, Carmen Zammit,Yves Dumont, Vlassys Sfyroeras, Rafael Marquez Garcia,
J.-P. Soyer.

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