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syndicalisme européen, citoyen, participatif et unitaire
Février 2013 (2) – n°31
|Have your say - Votre opinion||Éditorial : Europe has lost|
The European Council of February 2013 has agreed on a multi-year austerity budget, one which will do absolutely nothing to extricate Europe from its financial crisis, and one which is largely due to inadequate financial policies. This is a backward-looking budget which will do nothing to support innovation, education, investment in the future and the sustainable economy. It is a shameful budget which will slash solidarity budgets at precisely the time when so many Europeans need a safety net to keep them from poverty.
On the European Public Service front, this budget will add to the billion in savings originally proposed by the Commission and the half billion allowed by President Van Rompuy; one further billion, in other words, two-and-a-half billion euros at the very time when we want the public service to take on the missions decided on the fly by the Council as an attempt to tackle the economic, financial and monetary crises.
The College talks about “productivity gains”. But this is nothing more than accountancy-speak which will not be able to disguise for long the destructive effects of the measures adopted to achieve these savings. In actual fact, the essence of the measures contained in the draft reform of the Staff Regulations or in the MFF agreement are designed to reduce salaries in real terms and to restrict careers, to prepare for outsourcing and to depend more and more on staff with no security of tenure or inferior employment conditions.
And yet nothing has been prepared to remedy the malfunctions which are already mostly documented: discrimination, insecurity, forced transfers destroying skill bases, a lack of mobility between institutions and agencies, doubling up of controls, removal of responsibility, stifling management style. Removing these blockages could also bring real productivity gains, greater effectiveness and would boost staff motivation.
So what do we want?
|U4U welcomes the position of the EP|
Joint Statement to the Press by Joseph Daul, on behalf of the EPP Group, Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group, and Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group and on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit
Commenting on the results of the EU summit, the leaders of the four largest political groups in the European Parliament issued the following joint statement:
"The core priority behind Parliament's choices is the ambition to promote growth and investment in the EU, and thus to contribute to Europe's sustainable recovery from the crisis.
This agreement will not strengthen the competitiveness of the European
economy. It is not in the prime interest of our European citizens.
The real negotiations will start now with the European Parliament. We
will maintain our priorities which we have clearly stated many times.
In addition to this, there are four important points that we will not abandon:
First, we are calling for increased flexibility using Qualified Majority Voting : between years and between categories of spending. It is a sensible approach which will allow us to make the best use of our financial resources.
Second, we are also standing firm on a compulsory revision clause with a Qualified Majority Vote in the Council, which should allow us to revise the financial framework in two or three years. We don't accept an austerity budget for seven years.
Third, with this same sense of responsibility we are calling for new, genuine own resources for the European budget to progressively replace the current system based heavily on national GNI contributions.
Fourth, we cannot accept a budget based solely on priorities of the past. We must maintain support for future-oriented policies, strengthening European competitiveness and research.
The outcome of the final budget will determine whether the second decade of the 21st century will be remembered as the time of further integration for the benefit of all Europeans or the time of a standstill for Europe, or even falling behind in a globalised world. "
|The EP has a clear view about the future of Europe. Has the Commission its own ?|
Speech to the European Council on 7 February 2013 by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament (check against delivery)
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have already taken one significant step forward: the threats to the survival of the euro have been banished. The turning point was the display of unflinching political determination to keep the eurozone together. The same sort of political determination, in the form of an unwavering commitment to our shared future, is what is needed if we are to make today’s negotiations a success and meet the challenges which still face us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us be clear about this: the proposed reductions in the EU budget – for example in the areas of transport infrastructure, broadband networks, the Erasmus Programme and rural development – are nothing other than real cuts whose impact ordinary people will feel in their daily lives. For example, funding for food banks is to be cut by half, even though they are providing more and more people with their only meal of the day. Making cuts here is at odds with the key value underpinning the European Union – solidarity.
Before you start your discussions about the multiannual financial framework, please allow me to remind you of three premises which are central to the European Parliament’s approach to this issue. We began our work on the MFF two years ago in the SURE committee and since then we have consistently made our views very clear. Since the MFF is covered by the consent procedure, I would strongly urge you to take account of both the financial and the more fundamental issues raised by the European Parliament. You all have a wealth of experience in dealing with your national parliaments, so you know only too well that you have to take parliamentarians’ views seriously if you want their consent to your proposals.
Our first premise: we want a modern EU budget. As far as we can tell, however, the proposal on the table today would be something very different, namely the most backward-looking financial framework in the history of the EU.
I have every sympathy for President Van Rompuy, given the invidious position he finds himself in. His task is to secure a compromise between States whose first priority is to defend their national interests. The States in question fall into three groups: those for which agricultural policy is the sticking point, those for which cohesion policy is the sticking point, and those for which radical cuts in the EU budget are the sticking point. The Van Rompuy solution is to leave agricultural policy and cohesion policy virtually untouched. In order to reduce the overall volume of the budget and thus placate the third group of States, however, cuts are to be made in European policies which are vital for the future, such as research and education. This is the worst of all worlds, since what is at stake now is not only the size of the budget, but also the type of investments that budget funds. EU policies in the areas of research, education, training, foreign relations and development in particular generate genuine European added value. The European Parliament feels that making savings in these areas is misguided, because these forward-looking policies represent an investment in our ability to innovate in the long term and our competitiveness. They are an investment in a sound future for our children!
We need these European policies, now in particular, in order to create growth and jobs. The British Academy has sent me a letter drawing my attention to the fact that the European research programme FP7 has generated 0.96% in additional GDP and 900 000 jobs and asking for the funding of EUR 100 billion being sought for the research support programme Horizon 2020 to be confirmed. It’s quite simple: investing in European research generates added value.
Let me ask you this: how can we hope to defend our interests in any credible way, whether in the sphere of trade policy, in the fight against climate change, or in the context of our neighbourhood policy, if we cut the very resources earmarked for these purposes in the budget? How will it look if we have no money available in our development cooperation budget to lend a hand when countries emerging from crisis try to build a stable democracy? An austerity budget is certainly no way to help the EU achieve its ambitious goals. An ambitious European Union needs an ambitious budget.
In the European Parliament’s view, a modern financial framework means developing at long last a form of financial planning which is not based solely on rigid, inflexible budgets. Just like any Member State, the EU needs to be able to respond quickly to changing economic and political circumstances. Let me give you one example: if we keep to our rigid approach we will not be able to respond effectively to unexpected events, such as those currently unfolding in Mali. Once the French military intervention carried out in order to protect the security of every European has been completed, Mali will need help with the process of civilian reconstruction. If we are to meet challenges such as this we need flexible arrangements which can be used to mobilise the resources required. That means allowing for flexibility between expenditure categories and between financial years and introducing a legally binding revision clause, which, like the flexibility arrangements, can be adopted by means of qualified-majority voting. What Europe needs are not compromises which reflect the lowest common denominator, but modern financial planning.
Ladies and gentlemen,
What is more, adopting the MFF on the basis of the unanimity principle would mean giving in to the demands made by the British Government in particular concerning payment ceilings. In purely arithmetical terms, payments over the period to 2020 would effectively be frozen at the level of the 2011 budget - we are talking about massive real cuts; as regards commitments, in 2020 the same ceiling would still apply as in 2005. I don’t know if this can be described as realistic financial planning. There is also the fundamental question of whether we would be justified in laying down a seven-year financial framework which would bequeath to our successors in the next European Parliament, and indeed in the European Parliament after that, and in the next Commission and in the Commission after that, budgets much lower than the ones available to us. It is not clear whether this is democratically defensible. This approach has nothing to do with planning certainty. What we are actually doing is ignoring a problem which calls for an immediate, flexible response. I would also point out that the financial framework would cover a time span during which at least one Member State has said that it may leave the European Union.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I should therefore like to repeat what I said at the November Summit: we, the representatives of the people, are willing to accept savings. But the further you depart from the Commission proposal, the more likely it is that your decision will be rejected in the European Parliament, in particular if payment appropriations fail to match commitments.
If no agreement can be reached on an MFF, the 2013 ceiling will continue to apply, in accordance with Article 312(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In terms of numbers this would mean, for the next seven years, overall spending of EUR 1026 billion – EUR 19 billion less than under the Commission proposal on the MFF, but EUR 70 billion more than under the current proposals for a reduced budget. The European Parliament would certainly be able to work well with annual budgets which were based on the ceilings for the current financial year and whose adoption would require only a qualified majority, not unanimity. If the political will is there, multiannual planning is possible under these conditions as well – at all events there are no legal grounds for thinking otherwise. We are prepared to adopt legal bases which are valid for seven years, if necessary. The resources required would then have to be made available on the basis of annual financial planning.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The MFF in the form currently being proposed, however, would turn what is already a legally highly questionable trend into a structural deficit, because, right from the start of the period it covers, the payments ceiling would be too low. Commissioner Lewandowski has now put a figure on outstanding commitments, that is to say the accumulated bills for commitments entered into in previous financing periods, which triggered dismayed reactions at yesterday's meeting of the Conference of Presidents: for the period to 2020 we are talking about EUR 250 billion. The Commission proposal for the MFF for the period from 2014 to 2020 includes payments which take account of these sums which are still outstanding. If you now cut the Commission proposal by EUR 100 billion you will be driving Europe into a debt trap. Europe, like the USA a few weeks ago, is heading for a fiscal cliff.
Let me put this in simpler terms: we, the EU Member States and the European Parliament, reach agreement on a set of programmes. These decisions are legally binding. The programmes in question are then implemented as agreed, commitments are entered into and contracts are concluded, for example in order to provide financial support for infrastructure projects in your countries. But then, suddenly, you stop paying the bills which are piling up. This is exactly what happened last autumn.
To illustrate what this meant in practice, please allow me to digress for a moment and talk about the current budget situation. As President of the European Parliament I was forced to acknowledge that in October 2012 the EU was already essentially insolvent. Although the bills for November and December had not yet been submitted, in October the shortfall already amounted to EUR 9 billion. I received a frantic phone call from the Budget Commissioner telling me that the Member States were refusing to pay up. In late October the payment appropriations available for the financial year 2012 had already been exhausted, the EU was effectively bankrupt and a supplementary budget was needed as a matter of urgency. One finance minister, however, was completely unmoved: as he put it, ‘we know that we have entered into these commitments, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll make the payments’.
In a laborious process which did indeed see some Member States refuse for weeks on end to make outstanding payments, two-thirds of the shortfall of EUR 9 billion was scraped together. The remainder was carried over to the financial year 2013, as were the shortfalls for November and December 2012, which had not even been taken into account in the supplementary budget. Accordingly, we effectively began 2013 with a deficit of EUR 16 billion.
This merely continued a trend: from 2010 to 2011 a shortfall of EUR 5.5 billion was carried over in this way, from 2011 to 2012 the figure was already EUR 11 billion and now – in 2013 – we have reached EUR 16 billion. And yet from 2014 onwards you are proposing to lower the payment ceilings even further. This is the beginning of the slippery slope towards a deficit Union. What an absurd state of affairs: at national level we are fighting hard to escape from the debt trap, and at European level we are walking blithely into exactly the same trap.
As President of the European Parliament, whose signature is required for the definitive adoption of the budget, I cannot, will not and, indeed, may not accept what amount to deficit budgets. I am bound by the EU Treaty and deficit budgets constitute a breach of Article 323, which stipulates that the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission ‘shall ensure that the financial means are made available to allow the Union to fulfil its legal obligations in respect of third parties’.
It could be objected that people who are overdrawn simply have to cut back on their spending in certain areas. But we can’t even do that, because the Union’s other commitments are legally binding as well – or should we simply adopt notional programmes, knowing full well that when the time comes we will not be able to fund them?
Ladies and gentlemen,
Why? Because savings alone will not be enough to fill the gaps in our budget. To be sure, the EU institutions have the same duty as national authorities to be efficient and thrifty. Simplification, rationalisation and qualitative improvements can generate savings in many areas – and we intend to make those savings. Unfortunately, efficiency gains of this kind will not be enough to end the mismatch between the tasks allotted to us and the inadequate budgetary resources we can draw on to carry them out. More and more tasks and less and less money – the inevitable result is budget deficits. The European Parliament will not go along with this.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With that aim in view, we must develop closer trade relations with our key partners, such as the USA and Latin America. Mexico, a country which has an impressive growth rate and which would benefit just as much as we would from closer trade relations, offers a perfect illustration of what I am talking about. I applaud the commitment to this principle you showed at the EU-Latin America Summit. I regard relations with Latin America as vital for the future of Europe.
Close trading cooperation between the USA and the EU, which is now on the table once again and which could lead to the establishment of a transatlantic free trade zone, would likewise be beneficial to both sides.
As democracies founded on shared values, however, we must never forget that trade is not an end in itself. Our aim must always also be to improve the lives of the people with whom we trade. At the instigation of the European Parliament, the documents which served as the basis for the negotiations on a free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru included, for the first time, a transparent and binding road map on improving compliance with human and workers’ rights and environmental standards. This has set a precedent which should be followed in the future. As the world’s largest trading bloc, we have the opportunity to bring about positive changes in the lives of people in other parts of the world. We should take that opportunity.
This is only one of many instances of the European Parliament using its new Lisbon powers constructively. You too can draw on those powers by encouraging the specialist councils of ministers to work closely with the European Parliament and involve us in negotiations at an early stage.
A further point on tomorrow’s agenda is the Arab Spring. Here again, I would urge you to speed up the negotiations on trade agreements with the States in the Maghreb region, because what these young democracies urgently need are jobs and economic growth. Stable democracies are impossible without social peace - our own history has taught us this. That is why it is so important to ensure that trade agreements of this kind have no adverse social consequences.
Our trade agreements with these countries must be part of a comprehensive Mediterranean strategy. In keeping with that aim, in the Union for the Mediterranean the European Parliament has been calling for closer integration across the entire Mediterranean region in an effort to boost growth and stabilise the young democracies in the countries of the Arab Spring.
Ladies and gentlemen,
President Hollande was right when he said the following in his speech in the European Parliament on Tuesday: ‘c’est notre crédibilité qui se joue, crédibilité non plus financière mais politique. Au-delà des choix budgétaires, c’est une conception de l’Europe qui est en débat’. The overwhelming majority of the Members of the European Parliament share that view and would join me in asking this question: what kind of Europe do we want?
Your decisions will determine whether today's meeting of the European Council comes to be seen as the start of a process, or the end of one.
Thank you for your attention.
|European Council : an anti-youth summit !!!|
If the decisions taken by the European Council become reality, they will cause working conditions and purchasing power to deteriorate still further, barely eight years after the 2004 reform.
In the case of the AST post 2004 colleagues, the 2013 reform will remove a portion of the compensation granted in 2004, particularly as regards promotion in the higher grades. Furthermore, the two-year freeze on pay rises and the introduction of a new crisis levy (6%), will reduce the purchasing power of our colleagues by at least 6.5%.
For a 30-year-old colleague, this reduction will be the equivalent, over a working life and retirement, of 4 years’ salary. The new reform effectively means forcing staff to work for nothing for between 3 and 4 years.
To this will be added the loss caused by the increase in work time, the reduction in deadline times and the work overload due to the 5% staff cuts in the institutions.
In conclusion, we should remind colleagues that, according to the Commission’s own figures, the drop in institution staff purchasing power was around 10% over the last period.
In the face of this deterioration, the College has just granted a single in-house “reclassification” competitive examination, which is certainly some kind of a step forward, one for which U4U has fought hard, but it is not much.
For their part, the CA are not even sure that this College, which seeks only to please the Council, will give them any satisfaction on two of their key demands: contracts extending to 6 years, and in-house competitive exams.
Lastly, the budget reduction will have a negative effect on crèche, kindergarten and European school infrastructure. Because of austerity policies, these are only covering some half of the public servants’ children, excluding children from other social backgrounds, which is hardly good for the image of the institutions as far as the local population is concerned.
This negative balance sheet of the last Council on the budgetary resources of institutions is just one example of the concessions made by the Commission regarding the rest of the budget.
Overall, the College as it is now is weak because it has decided already to yield to the Member States and the austerity policy. It has been unable to speak with a single voice with the EP, which might have made it easier to ensure that it was heard. Indeed, quite to the contrary, it opposed the FMI when this recommended, just for once, a policy of growth, and continued to recommend austerity.
The 7/8 February 2013 will go down as dark days in the story of the integration of Europe, dark days marked by the bankruptcy of the European elites.
The time has come to act.
|A poor man's Europe|
OF THE SUMMIT OF FEBRUARY 7 AND 8 2013:
A declaration of the Common Front
You all have received a message from the Vice-President on the outcome of the summit: for the first time in the history of the construction of Europe, the future budget is to be cut by 3% compared with the figure for the preceding period. For Heading V (administrative expenditure), this means an overall reduction of 2.5 billion euros. In the words of Mr Sefcovic, this balance sheet should be seen as “the best result possible” and we should “learn to live with it”.
The reality is that this figure is completely unacceptable.
It is unacceptable for European integration: the Heads of State and Government of the EU have agreed to a budget which for the first time in the history of the European Union has been genuinely reduced, and this is based on a structural deficit caused by the significant difference between payments and commitments!
The overall agreement speaks of 960 billion EUR (commitments expressed in current euros), which means a cut of 3.5% compared with the previous figure!
It is unacceptable for European integration: all this budget will do is exacerbate European austerity, at precisely the time when the economists are at last agreeing to accept that austerity merely causes recession and aggravates the economic crisis. It means abandoning the policies which are shaping the future of the EU on the world scene just as it means abandoning the struggle for economic and social consistency within the EU.
This plan which is inimical to the EU comes along with a plan to emasculate our Public Service: as far as the personnel are concerned, the Commission proposal would have grave consequences: staff cut by 5%, working hours increased by 7% with no salary increase, retirement age raised by 2 years, future secretaries salaries slashed by 22%, special levy raised considerably in reality, and so on.
The additional reduction of 1.5 billion demanded by the Council would lead among other things to a two-year pay freeze. A measure such as this would have a powerful impact on the salaries of working colleagues, particularly those who are new to the institution, for the entirety of the remainder of their careers and then on their pensions. It would be the equivalent on average of forcing staff to work for between two and three years over their careers for nothing!
This new reform of the Staff Regulations associated with the EU multi-year financial framework means that austerity will be carved in stone for staff for good, while the economic situation within the Union is set to improve in the next 2 or 3 years, as has been predicted by a number of economists. This means that the only thing we can do is support the EP’s call for a clause amendment in two to three years.
Does the Commission expect our gratitude for these conditions?
The appeal of a career in the European Public Service has already been seriously undermined: with the economic crisis in Europe still rampant, we are seeing the successful AST and AD examination candidates rejecting recruitment offers or speedily resigning because there are better positions to be had elsewhere, both public and private. This phenomenon is particularly marked in the case of certain nationalities. All the additional cuts will do is worsen recruitment issues, particularly as far as the geographical imbalance within the institutions is concerned. All the more disturbing is the fact that colleagues who have already spent a considerable proportion of their careers in the institutions are leaving in ever larger numbers because they have lost all motivation to stay with the EU and all their faith in their European political leaders. Their institution shows no interest in retaining them and securing their expertise for European integration. It seems as though in the eyes of their employers the staff have become nothing more than a device for adjusting budget variables.
The European Parliament has stated that it rejects the agreement as it stands and announced that it will not issue an opinion on the financial prospects until June. We welcome this reaction on the part of the EP and we call on the President and other leaders in the matter to maintain a resolute position in the defence of the European Union and its Public Service.
Mr Sefcovic has given the TPOs to understand that he was planning an immediate re-opening of the talks in the Council on the implementation of this so-called agreement.
Please, Mr Vice-President! You can hardly expect us to discuss ways in which our destruction can be undertaken more efficiently while the EP is still standing up for us! Nor can you imagine we will stand by and watch the hasty implementation of certain of the Commission’s general management decisions becoming reality at this time.
To the contrary, we call on the College to rally to the European cause by supporting the resistance launched by the Parliament.
The Council staff repeated their strike action on the eve of the summit, and they were alone in this, since the other institutions had organised supporting actions of a more symbolic nature. In the months to come, we must ready ourselves to act on a united basis with all personnel groups in all the institutions to defend our common interests. Let us not be drawn into the game which the Member States would like to play, where they set us up one against another, so that they can claim that the bulk of these anti-European measures are only being implemented by the “others”. We must act together and we must fight together, both for ourselves and for the Europe we want to try to continue to believe in.
|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.
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responsable de la rédaction :
équipe de rédaction : Paul Clairet, Fabrice Andreone, Sylvie Vlandas, Tomas Garcia Azcarate, Kim Slama, Gérard Hanney, Sazan Pakalin, Agim Islamaj, Yves Dumont, Rafael Marquez Garcia,