Le Lien - The Link

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

March 2013 – n°32

Content :

  • Foreword

  • Methods, freezing salary adjustments, where are we at?

  • Internal competitions: a step forward which should be taken

  • The ACs, too!

  • What has happened to the statutory requirement for staff representation?

  • Staff representation training; U4eUrope!

  • Training for the EPSO competitions

  • European initiative: we demand European education for all.

  • We reject the European austerity budget.

  • Synopsis: has the process of dismantling Europe already begun?

  • Readers’ letters

  • Support U4U!

  • U4U at your service

Have your say - Votre opinion Foreword


The 2008 financial crisis has caused the debt levels of all Member States to balloon, some of which were already experiencing structural problems: specifically, it had the effect of turning the private debt of a sector involved in speculation into a public debt to be borne by the citizens of Europe.

The crisis has triggered a continent-wide economic recession, and this in turn has provoked a major social crisis in the form of mass unemployment and growing insecurity within most Member States. The initial response at Europe level was to coordinate national budgetary stringency and debt reduction in return for solidarity initiatives for the Member States within the Eurozone, which were very restricted in terms of their capacity for action and extremely fettered as regards their possible implementation.

Inevitably, this preliminary series of initiatives soon revealed its limits owing to the inexistence of suitable conditions at Europe level which would have necessitated the implementation of economic recovery and growth resources, based on an overhaul of national budgets, with the twin goals of economic convergence and renewed solidarity. If that were not bad enough, as the chances of achieving such conditions became increasingly remote, the initial goal of budgetary restoration steadily became harder and harder to achieve because of the economic recession and declining social standards which the pursuit of this single goal brought about.

The adoption of the 2014–2020 Financial Perspectives should have been the occasion for the installation of this convergent and mutually-supporting growth instrument. It guaranteed a genuine division of responsibilities: the essential purification task at State level, the recovery at Union level, particularly of the EMU. It came to nothing, because the “commitment” produced by the Heads of State and Government last February was not only unequal to the immediate and future challenges, it was also based on an accountant’s logic, not a shared dynamic economic outlook. Again, worse still: for the first time in 56 years it provided for a shrinkage of the European budget. And for another first: it misunderstood the way European expenditure acts as a catalyst and a multiplier, and this includes both national public expenditure as well as that from the private sector.

The complicity and the antagonism between national political/administrative crony-groups are now in the process of recreating the economic and social situations, as well as the political chain of events (note the Italian elections), which our continent came to know and then to suffer from in the 1930s. The European Parliament reacted to the “multinational” commitment of the Heads of State and Government: its President, surrounded by the heads of the main Parliamentary groups, spoke of the founding principles of European integration, underlining the extent to which the principle of solidarity at European level was and should continue to be the foundation of joint effectiveness in the service of the peoples and citizens of the Union. The EP and the European Parliaments were then subjected to hostile press campaigns, huge pressure regarding the right of any democratic assembly to hold “secret ballots”, blackmail and threats from the national party bosses… Let’s see whether it can handle this outburst of nationalism from another era.

Stand your ground, Mr Martin Schultz, you are leading the only remaining European institution still defending the common interest. Stand your ground, while preparing as of now some means of preserving the independence of the democratic dimension of European integrity, by implementing mechanisms for drawing up Trans-European lists for the 2014 election. Stand your ground, while hastening to explain the issues to the citizens of Europe and to European public opinion. Stand your ground, because for the first time, a Minister of a Member State has declared that from that time on he was “the repository of the sovereignty of the citizens of Europe” (B. Cazeneuve, 15/02/2013), which is a view shared by several Member States, as it happens.

While as for you, Mr President of the Commission, please support the Parliament in this battle which concerns not only the EU budget for years to come, but also the meaning of European integration in the hearts of the citizens. Don’t forget that the European Commission has long been the promoter and defender of the common interest in coordination with the EP. Nor should you forget that the Commission is the guardian of the Treaties… and it turns out that the appropriations for payments envisaged in the commitment are not likely to cover all the EU’s financial commitments, those inherited from the past to which will be added existing and future commitments, even if their dimensions from the accountancy angle are somewhat diminished.

In the light of President Van Rompuy’s declaration that the European budget is not intended to be “counter-cyclical” (!), you should get together with President Schultz to highlight how much more than just a macro-economic error of analysis this is; it is a political mistake. If necessary, taking heart from President Schultz’s courage, remind him of this fundamental principle of European integration:

“We are not forming coalitions of States, we are uniting People”

  Methods, freezing salary adjustments, where are we at?  
What the Member States want

The Member States want to freeze salaries and reintroduce the 6% crisis levy; a fresh attack on the European Public Service. Young staffers will be losing the equivalent of 4 years’ salary. Well done, Commission!

According to the information in the possession of U4U, the Member States, in addition to freezing the salaries as adopted by the Council, would like to adopt a fresh crisis levy. In other words, staff would no longer be permitted to use the salary adjustment method, but they would also have to pay for a mechanism which would not be applied.

The historical background

It is important not to forget the historical context. The salary adjustment method is based on keeping EU staff salaries indexed with those of the Member States. This principle has been the basis of the method since the first mechanism was adopted in 1972. It was used in 1976, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2004. It is the cornerstone of the system.

The 1972 and 1976 methods did not include a tax on salaries. That was during a period of growth, and there was no question then of placing a cap on Community staff salaries.

In the wake of the unilateral termination of the second salary adjustment method by the Council in 1980, a new mechanism was adopted in 1981 for a period of 10 years. This took the form of a decision by the Council (EURATOM, ECSC, EEC decision 81/1061). In parallel, and for the first time since 1972, the Council adopted a regulation (regulation No. 3821/81 (EURATOM, ECSC, EEC)) which amended staff regulations to introduce a levy, due to the oil crisis, in order to cap salaries (the addition of article 66a). This match between the two provisions meant that the levy was the counterpart or the price that had to be paid on the method of adjusting the salaries of European Community staff.

This new tax was added to the Community tax, by way of derogation from the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Communities. The method and the crisis levy laid down in 1981 form the subject of a sunset clause. They expired simultaneously in 1991.

The fourth method, adopted in 1991 (ECSC, EEC, Euratom regulation No. 3830/91) reprises the same mechanism, but incorporates it into the staff regulation, in the form of an attachment (attachment XI). It also includes the adoption of a new article 66a: this refers to a new tax on salaries, this time referred to as a "temporary contribution". The method and its counterpart expired in 2001, and once again did so simultaneously.

In 2001, the 1991 mechanism was extended for two years by Vice-President Kinnock (Council regulation (EEC, ECSC, EURATOM) No. 2805/2000).

In 2004, a new method was introduced in the context of a reform, once again in the form of an attachment to the staff regulations and an article 66a (Council regulation (EEC, ECSC, EURATOM) No. 723/2004) which defined the special levy, known in the previous method as the temporary contribution. And once more, the method and the levy were linked together. This 5th method expired at the end of 2012.

In other words, on December 31 2012 the method of adjusting pay and pensions expired, together with the special levy.
At the end of 2012, the Commission proposed that the method and the levy be extended for one year. The British wanted the levy to be introduced, but without the method. However, unanimity was required to amend a Commission proposal and, for the first time since 1981, to break the link between method and levy. Fortunately the British proposal was not adopted, which is why at the moment we have neither method nor levy. The link between these two elements remains: no method, no levy.

The levy is the counterpart of the method

In other words, since 1981, the adoption by the Member States of a payment adjustment mechanism has been linked to a counterpart, in the form of a tax which caps salaries. While the heading of this tax and its name may have changed over time, the fact remains that it is a time-honoured legal principle.

At the present time, some of the Member States are also hoping that, in addition to the salary freeze, a new tax will be adopted to be applied on top of the wage freeze.

This approach is simply UNACCEPTABLE!!

Such an approach is simply unacceptable. As things stand, EU staff are already paying a Community tax. Why should they be asked to pay a second tax on the same tax base, when it isn’t for anything?

The Court of Justice has already handed down a ruling on this matter in the Abrias / European Commission Decision of July 3 1985. In that case, the claimants were contesting the introduction of a crisis levy in 1981. In its grounds No. 21, the Court issued the following response:
"It is also apparent from the information before the court that the agreement of the most representative trade-union organizations to bear some of the consequences of the particular difficulties of the economic and social situation that had emerged in the community, by accepting an exceptional and single measure affecting remuneration, was counterbalanced by the adoption of a method of adjusting remuneration which preserved the principle of parallelism.”

The outcome is that the background to the method and the legal precedent associated with it show that a freeze on the Community staff salaries – in the absence of a method or where the method is not applied – cannot be accompanied by a levy of 6%. In other words, this approach would mean that staff were being taxed for a second time on salaries already taxed once via the Community impost.

We are not yet aware of the details of the Council’s approach. Nevertheless, our organisation will oppose this approach by all available means, including the law.

We should also bear in mind the fact that some Member States (Germany and Austria in particular) would like to adopt a cap on the result of the method which should not exceed a 2% increase, based on salary increases within national public services. Such an approach would breach the principle of indexing the growth of the EU staff salaries against those of national public servants, recognised by the Council since 1972 and confirmed by legal precedent.

What can we do?

Were this approach to be adopted, U4U would oppose it by all available means, including the law. The preservation of the legal principles supporting the EU public service and the effective operation of the institutions is at stake.

In the meanwhile, we call on ALL the staff members of the institutions to support the position of the European Parliament on the MFFs and we call on the European Parliament to stand firm on this matter. We need a genuine budget for the EU, a budget worthy of the challenges ahead. The commitment created by the Member States in February 2013 is an offence, and a text which cannot serve the future of 500 million Europeans.

U4U will propose to all staff organisations in agreement a campaign against the 6% levy and the pay freeze.



  Internal competitions: a step forward which should be taken  
Following the publication of information on the HR intranet website about the organisation of internal competitions, U4U is of the opinion that it is still possible to arrange the planned exams in a way more in keeping with that agreed during the last social dialogue meeting. In actual fact improvements are still needed, and possible, regarding this issue which is vital for the functioning of our institution, in order to reduce the disparities introduced by the 2004 reform, as well as several precarious situations.

Despite the progress achieved via the social dialogue (some of which have not, however, been included in the document published by the management, which is a pity) we cannot say that we are entirely satisfied as yet with the outcome, particularly as regards the number of internal competitions – we feel two and probably three should be a minimum from 2013 – and the failure to hold competitions for the ASTs beyond AST 4. Our legal department also believes that it is possible to hold them just for staff-member ASTs, thus excluding, apart from AST Grade 4s, AT assistants, for whom leapfrogging a grade would not be the same as a new appointment, which is prohibited under the staff regulations.

U4U is very keen that social dialogue should be productive and that, under the circumstances, it should be extended. We trust that the Commission can understand our wish for improvement and can understand our reasons, which should be shared by all: to boost staff cohesion and to significantly reduce injustices caused by poor political and management decision-making in the past, in a context in which this cohesion is crucially important to our institution.

For more information: check Noxylo 28  FR   EN

Breaking news on internal competitions
According to our information, the CBTs for internal AST 3 and AST 4 competitions will be based on numerical and verbal reasoning and abstract tests. We are waiting for this information to be confirmed.

U4U does not support this approach, and we hope that the Commission will lean towards competency tests for the AST competitions, or perhaps for an alignment with the AD competitions (Talent screener)


  ACs, too !  
Thanks to the action instigated by the contract agents’ collective (collectif des agents contractuels) and the unanimous support of all the staff representative bodies, the inclusion by the Commission of the two main AC claims in the staff regulations has been secured: contracts may extend up to 6 years in the central departments of the European public service and internal competitions will be, or should be, held for the granting of tenure for all ACs.

The time has now come to convert the try.

The Commission, which is currently involved in talks about the staff regulations amendments, should fight to the bitter end to obtain the inclusion of these two provisions in the new staff regulations.

These measures – contracts up to 6 years and internal competitions for all – are not just socially fair, they are also essential for the departments to operate effectively; and they will generate savings:

- lower staff turnover, which would result from these two measures, would, according to the management themselves, reduce professional risk;
- lower staff turnover would make for substantial savings in recruitment, training and productivity;
- the possibility on offer of joining the public service after an average of 5 years would also lead to substantial savings;
- and lastly, by offering real career prospects, these two measures would improve the geographical distribution of AC recruitment.

In addition to this, the institutions would be able to organise the management of non-tenured staff in a secure way: effectively, this would mean that following the selections it would be possible to organise professional career paths whereby ACs would move from the DGs to the Executive Agencies and Offices, benefiting the various sections by their experience, while reducing individual insecurity. It would be easy to organise this kind of management – all that is lacking is political commitment, a little imagination and a career policy for non-tenured staff. 


  What has happened to the statutory staff representation?  
What is statutory staff representation?

Statutory staff representation is representation as laid down in the staff regulations, a system whereby staff use local committees and joint committees to get involved in the management of matters which concern them and to ensure that staff regulations and policies are correctly implemented and followed.

Statutory representation, an outcome of the ballot box, is physically expressed via various bodies: the Local Staff Committees (LSC) and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) [with a membership of representatives appointed by each local committee].

The LSCs also decide on the appointments proposed by the colleagues’ staff associations in the various joint committees (COPEC: equal opportunity, promotion; CGAM: health fund, staff regulations, health and safety; CPRE: restaurants and canteens, discipline, etc.).

The existence of this rather formal separation should not obscure the fact that elections to staff committees are made from staff association lists, and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) also has a say on new regulations emerging from talks between the staff associations and management.

What is the state of play?

Elections have indeed been held at all appropriate locations – Brussels, Luxembourg, Ispra, Outside-Union, etc. – but problems are appearing everywhere.

In Brussels, the absence of a clear majority has given rise to a planned rotation of the Presidency (rather like the situation in the European Parliament, where the two dominant groups share the Presidency within a legislature) following an agreement reached between the three groups, but which has not been made public and regarding which the rules governing the plan remain a mystery, if, indeed, they actually exist. Although the Brussels LSC representatives were appointed to the CSC, problems nevertheless exist regarding appointments to the joint committees because of a lack of agreement on the calculation system for granting the number of seats.

In Luxembourg, a place has been contested within the delegation of this committee to the Central Staff Committee (CSC).

In Ispra, the Presidency of the Committee seems to rest on a tiny or even uncertain majority, and the administration has asked the local committee of this site to hold a second ballot for the appointment of its delegation to the Central Committee.

As regards Outside-Union, there was a clear majority in the election of President and board, but there was no qualified majority for the appointment of its delegation to the Central Committee.

The outcome is that all these problems together are preventing the election of a board to the CSC and the election of its president. After 9 months of negotiations – which have not, however, entirely prevented the committee from functioning – a solution is in sight which provides for alternating presidents, as with the EP. This solution, which U4U has been pushing and supporting, should receive at least 2/3 of the votes of the representatives elected to the Central Committee in March.

What lessons can be drawn from this?

The schedule for the election of staff representatives to the LSCs is not the same for all the sites (for example, elections to the Brussels LSC were held in June, while Luxembourg is voting at the moment). Having the elections spread out in time contributes to the instability of the system, leads to greater disagreement between the staff associations, and is not supportive of compromise. Election schedules must therefore be synchronised over all sites. If the staff representatives are incapable of organising this, the administration will do it if it wants to have a stable and credible contact to talk to.

Electoral systems differ according to the site, which leads to inconsistencies in the interpretation of the rules: what holds good for those of us over here doesn’t hold good for that lot over there. This means that elections must be organised using the same electoral system. Keeping different systems in place betrays the wishes of the electors and poorly represents the relationships between the interest groups. For example, the campaign run three years ago in Luxembourg by U4U, FFPE and SID – "vote the change" – elected one representative on 20% of the votes, while the system in place in Brussels would have produced 4 seats.

What is necessary is for the elector’s wishes to be faithfully expressed, which is not the case in Brussels where, if an elector votes for one person, that vote is worth 1/27 (because there are 27 pairs in all in the elections), while those who vote for 27 people have a vote which is worth 27/27, or 1. The current system penalises lists which include candidates who are very well-known because of their work and who earn votes on their own merit. In addition, this system benefits small lists: you need at least 750 preferential votes to elect a pair on a list with a majority vote and less than half that for a small list. With a fairer system, the Near You list maintained in Brussels by U4U and R&D would have won a greater number of representatives.

It is also important that the rules be set down more clearly regarding the way appointments to the central committee and to the joint committees are shared out, because in actual fact, they are really non-existent, expressing principles, but not methods. The non-existence of these rules or the differences between them creates problems and blockages. For example, a 2/3 majority is required everywhere to appoint delegates from the various local committees to the Central Committee, and in Brussels, where the local committee has 27 representatives, a two-thirds majority means 18, which is clear. But for Outside-Union, where the committee has 14 members, the 2/3 majority is somewhere between 9 and 10: some say 9, others 10. Thus, the Outside-Union LSC cannot appoint its representatives to the CSC and the majority which has 9 representatives out of 14 is penalised.

It would likewise be a good idea to think about setting up an equivalent representation between the various sites and their staff members: similarly, the Outside-Union staff have only 3 seats on the Central Committee as against 7 seats allocated to Luxembourg and 7 to Ispra, even though Outside-Union personnel were, and remain, more numerous. Moreover, and completely illogically, Petten has its Local Committee and is also represented on the Central Committee, but Seville is not. Why? Just because! Or rather, because of the combined effects of a certain “laziness” on the part of the Commission management, blended with some little tricks and ulterior motives on the part of some of the staff representatives.

If matters were arranged in a more egalitarian manner, U4U with its Outside-Union partners (USHU – Union and Solidarity Outside Union), when gathered at the Trade Union Rally would be provided with the correct and balanced number of representatives, more than twice the number of representatives at the CSC it has currently.

Going further

In addition to these sensible and easily implemented measures, if the political commitment exists, we should go on to consider a number of other matters.

One is the place of the Local Committees of the Executive Agencies: they should be gradually incorporated into the Commission Central Committee.

How many members are needed to ensure adequate representation: today 400 are needed – why not 500 tomorrow?

Thought should be given to the threshold in elections at local and central level, to ensure the second criterion of adequate representation: today this threshold is respectively 5% at local level and 6% at central level. Why not 8% at central level? This slight increase would have the effect of boosting the legitimacy of the staff associations, and preventing their being spread too thinly, while still preserving pluralism at both local and central levels. At this level, change should be the outcome of consensus as the parties involved are extremely sensitive.

Last but not least: what resources should be provided for staff representation and where should they be given? At the present time, staff representation is in the hands of a mere 41 seconded staff members for 10 organisations responsible for representing personnel scattered throughout 35 sites in the Union and nearly 150 outside the Union. In Brussels, staff occupy over 60 buildings. The resources available for expertise, conferences and travel are very limited and difficult to deploy.

The number of seconded staff should be increased, specifically so that they can operate on a decentralised level, by buildings or groups of buildings. We will return to this issue.

  Internal U4U training course: U 4 eUrope  
A training course is being offered by U4U designed to improve understanding of the goals of the EU, how it works, and the problems and challenges facing it.

Aim: To supply members with information and skills in order to improve staff representation and staff association action.
Where: U4U room – LOI 80 - 2/206

When: Thursdays from 12.45 pm to 2.15 pm

How: A subject-based presentation followed by a question-and-answer session over coffee/tea

For whom: a maximum of 20 U4U members (first registered, first served) Registration essential

Contribution to expenses: 5 euros per session, payable at the time

Are you interested in the agenda, but not a member? Then this is a very good time to join!

07/03/13: The Union budget and the multi-annual financial framework: proposals and challenges - Ludwig SCHUBERT
14/03/13: The staff regulation as a codification of the employment relationship –Fabrice ANDREONE
21/03/13: The evolution of the agencies: facts and challenges – Philippe KERAUDREN
4/04/2013: The major stages in European integration – Paul CLAIRET
11/04/13: Behind the scenes on May 9 1950 – Karine AURIOL
18/04/13: Languages of Europe – Catherine Vielledent, session in EN
25/04/13: The Common Agricultural Policy – Tomas Garcia Azcarate

View the agenda and register

Write to us if you would like to see a repeat of certain training areas shown in our catalogue but which have already been covered, as we can re-schedule them, depending on demand.


  Training for the EPSO competitions  
Preparation for the EPSO competitions

U4U is offering the complete training course as run by the École Nationale d'Administration. The course is run by ENA instructors in French and adapted to suit institution staff.

Concours AD : approfondissement : Voir le programme et s'inscrire

Training in English

Program and registration


  Citizens’ initiative: We demand high-quality European education for all  

The initiative is calling for the creation of an Educational Platform with the aim of stimulating debate on how to improve schools and boost the European dimension of education exactly in line with the EU’s 2020 strategy. “Europe’s future depends on Education, how to educate citizens, how they learn. Common education goals reflecting EU basic values should be at the heart of a solution to today’s challenges,” declares Ana Gorey, President of MEET.

“As young Europeans are the ones who will build the Europe of tomorrow, it is essential to begin building a common European identity. I thus invite you to join me in supporting this initiative that will help strengthen this common identity which Europe needs,” declared Mr Henri Malosse, President of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee which hosted the campaign launch ceremony.

Click here to view and sign the petition

In the bottom left-hand corner of the page, click on Support


  Rejecting a European austerity budget  
Rejecting a European austerity budget: A strategic battle for 2014
Summary of a paper by Arthur Colin and Mathilde Bouyé, dated 22/03/2013.

The budget proposed on the conclusion of the European Council of February 7 2013, which shrank the European GDP by 1%, focuses mainly on cutting future mutualised investment and solidarity expenditure: scepticism about this austerity budget is permitted in the light of an examination of the growth forecasts published today by the European Commission, and given that shared future investment has never been so essential to jump-start growth in Europe. The European Parliament has a duty to maintain its opposition to this agreement by sticking to its conditions so that, with the 2014 European elections just one year off, it can confirm its role and its political weight, and provide the project to be chosen by the electors with a chance of achievement.

For the first time, the Council has proposed a European budget lower than before, a budget from the era of the Europe of the 15, when there were fewer shared policies. Also for the first time, the four main groupings in the European Parliament have formed a bloc against an agreement arrived at so painfully. The speech of the French President François Hollande to the European Parliament, regretting the attitude of the conservative majority of the Council and mobilising the deputies, just before rejoining their opposite numbers, was equally unprecedented. We have witnessed an important sequence of events in these negotiations, not just for the future of the Union, but also for European democracy.

There are two opposing perceptions of the budget and the role of the Union in these negotiations: the imposition of austerity on the Union to support national budgetary efforts is justly contested by the defenders of an instrument of solidarity among Europeans and a greater mutualisation of future investment, for precisely the purpose of reducing national expenditure. The reasoning of the conservative majority is keeping the Union trapped in the crisis and the European budget in a vicious circle. Their refusal to supply fresh resources merely inflates the size of the contributions made by the Member States and their focus on a “fair return” forces the budget to shrink. The likelihood of a European resurgence drifts still further away. In addition to this, the Council has paradoxically posted budget entries which ought to have had priority at this time of crisis as adjustment variables: we mean the mutualised future investments and the solidarity expenses.

If the commitment which stands as a Council agreement continues to be questioned, the sequence of political events could be invigorating for European democracy. This means that the European Parliament must continue to insist that its conditions are accepted and must prepare for future European elections the best it can. The fact is that the rejection expressed by the Presidents of the four large European groupings will have an effect which goes beyond the scope of these budgetary negotiations. A significant absentee from the European economic governance reform, the Parliament will also have to reaffirm its political role a year from the elections. Its veto threat is a reminder to the Council that the approach sought by the people could become reality, and that the future President of the Commission must come from its ranks. This also falls in line with the meaning of François Hollande’s speech to the Euro MPs, which ended with the words: “to take this new step, to fulfil the European project, to advance democracy, it will be up to you to decide”.

In the short term, the Council will probably have to accept the demands of the European Parliament, which at the very least call for:

- Greater flexibility within the financial framework, which is essential to carry over sums not disbursed from one year and from one post to another, and not to return them to the States;
- a thorough mid-term review of the multi-annual financial framework; reform should also be more radical and should ensure that the life of the financial framework, which could be limited to just 5 years, coincides with the term of office of the European Parliament and the Commission, so that it can be adopted after the elections;
- the establishment of new own resources; this is equally essential. This issue is the Gordian knot of the European budgetary crisis. The European Parliament accepted the 2011 budget in return for the Council’s commitment to reform the way the Union is financed. The threat of a collective veto on the financial framework is the only influence it has, since it has only an advisory role in decisions on own resources. The Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) and Eurobonds are essential, but the latter is gaining even more support than the former. Other options which have been tabled for years should also be considered: the long-term allocation of a portion of a harmonised companies tax, the development of a European environmental tax system, the imposition of a tax on air transportation or on the revenue generated by the CO2 emissions quotas exchange.
- lastly, an increase in the heading dedicated to competitiveness is essential to support European resurgence and to implement the Europe 2020 strategy. Slashing 10 billion from the infrastructure mechanism budget is particularly senseless in the light of the investment requirements for European infrastructure, as strategic as they are huge. The Trans-European Transport Network (TETN), energy infrastructure, and the Europe 2020 digital strategy are also key projects for European growth which require a total of at least 1500 billion euros over the next ten years. So far 29 billion have been allocated to them…

The simplification of European budget financing is also essential in the long term, mainly to ensure that it can be read and understood by the people of Europe.

Still further into the future, it would be a good thing for the general interest of the Union if the requirement of unanimity in the Council could be bypassed. While moving over to qualified majority voting requires an amendment of the treaties and will take time, the establishment of a specific budget for the euro zone, already debated, would have the double advantage of complying with the other rules of governance and potentially being capable of responding to a higher level of ambition. Institutional division between the various States and within the Parliament would be problematic, but it could act as an encouragement to integrate the euro zone, and could be eased by ensuring that the decision-making process for candidate and willing States was interchangeable.

Also for the long term, the elimination of the cap which limits the European budget to 1.23 % of the European GDI and the establishment of a direct European tax, once European democracy has been modernised and the European Parliament holds fiscal power, should continue to be confirmed as political horizons to be achieved.


  The process of dismantling Europe has begun!  
The process of dismantling Europe has begun!

J.-L. Sauron, Senior Officer with the French Public Service and Professor at the Paris-Dauphine University, states in an article in The Huffington Post (14/02/2013) that “in the future, the European Council of February 7 and 8 will undoubtedly be seen as the beginning of the end of the European Union”.

In his examination of some of the decisions taken by our Heads of State and Government, he begins with the one he sees as “least questionable: cutting the sums allocated to EU administrative expenditure, that is, the salaries of the European public servants and the running costs of the institutions of the European Union."… He concludes as follows:
"David Cameron has chosen hunting down Eurocrats and their privileges as one of his favourite subjects. The most effective way of killing a structure is to go for its members, the people who make it work." …

"The salaries of the European public servants are not as kingly as David Cameron would like to suggest, particularly when measured against the yardstick of their technical and linguistic skills. They are the only people who think globally about the future from the viewpoint of the 27 Member States, and then translate this into a federally-focused regulatory system, designed to factor in the general European interest. Everybody has a part to play, be they national public servants or European public servants. Weakening one of these categories will paralyse the other."…

…"Furthermore, cutting the EU operating costs will affect the participation of the Member States in the day-to-day creation of the rules which concern us all, because these expenses also cover the travel costs of national public servants going to Brussels to defend the positions of the Member States. It is already happening that some of the crisis-affected States are no longer taking part in discussion groups for want of adequate financial resources."…

Lastly, it is fair to assume that a reduction in the resources needed by the European institutional machine will make it difficult to keep up the round trips between Brussels and Strasbourg for the European Parliament (200 million euros per year)."…

He then states, not without some concern, that the budget cuts made by the Heads of State and Government will particularly affect social expenditure such as "…the annual European payments to the European programme covering aid to the most deprived groups (MPD, food bank aid destined for associations such as the ‘Love Restaurant’ soup kitchens, Red Cross, the ‘Secours populaire’ charity, etc.). This reduction of 60 million per year is one of the first examples of the national clawback of mutual support expenditure guaranteed so far by Europe".

J.-L. Sauron is forced to conclude, not without a qualm, that “The message from the Heads of State and Government at the start of 2013 is one of a selfish Union: let’s all share the benefits of the single market and let everybody look after their own poor!"

And as investment is reduced, so any additional wealth dwindles. Moreover: “What is at stake in these negotiations is the credibility of the political class. The ‘markets’ have clearly understood the message that the Union has opted for the austerity which the IMF and World Bank experts stated was a threat to growth and social stability."

However: "There remains an obstacle to the advance of populist politics following on the heels of the disintegration of democracy: national and European parliaments. All national parliamentarians should question their governments to find out where the savings have been made and why the national veto was not opposed; all European parliamentarians should shoulder their responsibilities and reject this budget. Otherwise the electors are very likely to decide by huge abstentions in June 2014, on the occasion of the upcoming European elections, that there is a new way in which savings can be made – by discarding an institution which is clearly useless."


  Readers letters  
Vicious circle

The political decline of our Institution is not without consequences: its budget has been cut, understandably some would say, to the extent where "the work done is not at a satisfactory level"!

Budget cuts also affect:

- staff whose salaries have been steadily adjusted as a result, mainly by the replacement of staff members by contract staff, untenured and paid only one-third of the rate;
- the quality of the work of the Institution, which has therefore deteriorated: we no longer have the necessary know-how – at this salary level and having implemented the mandatory transfer of competent staff to positions where they are not at all competent. Many people now see Commission services as having turned into the secretariat for the Council and the European Parliament!
Eurosceptic politicians (!) then become incensed about this situation where officials are paid too much for the work they do, and seek (and, worse still, get) additional budget cuts!

And the circle begins again.

Mandatory staff transfers

The mandatory staff transfer policy is often reminiscent of the Peter Principle, also known as the “final placement syndrome”, created by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull: “In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”

In general, the situation also calls to mind the theory of functional stupidity, as developed from a study of procedures recently applied in financial companies in the City: A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organisations, which was picked up by the press. The study concludes that the "culture of stupidity lies at the heart of the financial crisis in the City of London” because “…the culture within the financial services companies… discourages employees from using their full intellectual capacity. In short, management will probably not ask itself the questions that matter, and these omissions could have consequences which may turn out to be disastrous…”. "…the authors of the study found that the employees… were competent, but they were not often called upon to act so". Lastly, "the study published in the 'Journal of Management Studies' highlights the fact that the main purpose of functional stupidity is to maintain and reinforce order in organisations."

Any resemblance to real situations is completely coincidental!

Arm wrestling

Following the signing of the agreement reached at European Council level on February 7 and 8 on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), or in other words, the EU budget for the seven-year period 2014–2020, we are able to ascertain – on the one hand with consternation, on the other with joy – the respective positions of the Commission and of the EP:

- Submission of the Commission to the wishes of the Council, acceptance sine die of an agreement with a budget and a Europe in decline;
- Refusal of the EP to approve this budget and expression of regrets, particularly as regards the lack of solutions for the current crisis and a perception of the future for the EU on the part of the Heads of State and Government.

Negotiations are already under way between the EP and the Council. We shall now find out whether “the cries” uttered by the EP express a "vision of the future of the EU", or were merely a “semantic appearance” designed to impress public opinion. We shall now find out whether Europe is really going to “stay on its feet”, or if the EP will accept the agreement in question by accepting "crumbs" which the Council will allow it on one or two “socially sensitive” cases!

Elections to the European Parliament take place in one year, and the voters are going to ask themselves whether it is worth the trouble of paying the European Parliament Members, or whether here, too, is an opportunity to make a hefty budget saving…

Your contributions can be sent to U4U. The Link reserves the right to make any corrections or changes, and contributions are published at its discretion.


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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.

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  U4U at your service  
Georges Vlandas - Président

Jean Paul Soyer - Secrétaire général
Rafael Marquez Garcia - Secrétaire général - en charge du personnel Hors Union et du SEAE
Béatrice Thomas - secrétaire à la Communication
Vlassios Sfyroeras - secrétaire à l'organisation, en charge du suivi des Collectifs par DGs d'U4U

Daniel Baruchel

Tomás García Azcarate - relations extérieures, rédacteur
en chef de la revue Graspe
Fabrice Andreone - Questions juridiques,
missions transversales, corédacteur de La Circulaire
Kim Slama - égalité des chances,
Paul Clairet-débat intellectuel
Jacques Babot - 50+
Georges Spyrou - Ecoles Européennes
Agim Islamaj - affaires statutaires et précaires
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
BUDG : Maria Troch
CCR: Ioannis Vlatis
CES: Alan Hick
CDR : Stavros Giatrakis
CLIMA : Yrjo Makela
COMM: Daniel Baruchel
CONNECT: Jacques Babot
DEVCO: Stathis Dalamangas, Juan Victor Linares  
DGT: Catherine Vieilledent, Tremeur Denigot
EAC: Lisa Kyriakidis, Renato Girelli
EACI : Stefan Pagel
EAS, EPSO : Karine Auriol
ECHO : Jacques Prade
ELARG : Miltiadis Economides
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
MARKT : Agnès Lahaye
MOVE : Henri Ars
OIB : Antonio Panduccio
OLAF: Nicola Falcione, Ivan Cusi Leal
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 : Enrique Dias Da Silva Guardao
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 : 
Vlassios Sfyroeras
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,
J.-P. Soyer.

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