Sunday 22 October 2017

Austerity finally bites in Brussels after EU court vetoes pay rises

Eamon Gilmore: 'priority is jobs'
Eamon Gilmore: 'priority is jobs'

Fiona Ellis

EU officials have been denied three years of backdated pay increases by the European Court of Justice.

Brussels officials will have to forgo an expected Christmas bonus worth thousands of euro each after the European Union's highest court ruled yesterday they were not entitled to three years of backdated pay rises

The automatic 1.7pc annual pay rise for all EU bureaucrats was blocked in 2011 by national governments. The European Commission attempted to challenge this move, taking its case to the European Court of Justice.

Ireland was one of the member nations, along with France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Latvia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Denmark, who went to the EU court to overturn the pay rise.

And EU judges yesterday decreed the governments were right to cite "serious and sudden deterioration in the economic and social situation" when blocking the automatic pay increase.

"This is clearly a big defeat for the commission who tried to force European governments to give EU officials an automatic pay increase, ignoring the reality in the real world where public servants across Europe were facing pay freezes," said one diplomat. But another source said: "There is an awful of lot of very disappointed officials today.

"I know a lot of people who banked on the extra cash for their holiday plans."

HAGGLING

A European Commission spokesman said: "Obviously we will not fly in the face of the judgment. "We have to study it carefully and to reflect. Whether we come forward with a new proposal is part of that reflection."

Meanwhile, the European Parliament voted in favour of the first spending cut in the history of the 28-nation group as it passed its long-term budget, the seven-year, multi-annual financial framework (MFF)

More than two years of haggling ended when the EU legislature approved the budget, which will fall to €960bn from €975bn for the years between 2014 and 2020. The cut had been sought by several EU countries, which wanted to see austerity at the EU level at a time when many were pursuing cutbacks at home.

EU president Herman Van Rompuy called the spending commitments "a realistic budget for Europe".

The MFF lays down the maximum annual amounts the EU may spend in different political fields over the next seven years. Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore added: "Restoring jobs and growth to Europe was the key priority for the Irish presidency, and the MFF is the key investment tool to do that."

Elsewhere the European Union assembly will agree later today to put an end to the "travelling circus" that sees the parliament head from Brussels to Strasbourg once a month, although France is expected to veto any change to the "ludicrously expensive" system.

MEPs are expected to agree by a large majority to demand a treaty change in order to end a legal obligation that requires the parliament to meet in the French city.

Irish Independent

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