Saturday 24 February 2018

Eurocrats' hours and tax to go up in savings drive

Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

THE working week for EU staff is to be increased by 2.5 hours without extra pay and jobs are to be cut by 5pc.

Eurocrats will also face later retirement, increases to their reduced tax rates and the scrapping of a secretly calculated Brussels index that delivers automatic above-inflation pay rises year on year, according to proposals unveiled by the European Commission yesterday.

The limited changes, which will save only €1bn compared with more sweeping reforms that reduced costs by €7.8bn in 2004, aim to appease national governments who are furious at an EU demand for a 7pc to 10pc spending increase from 2014 to 2020.

Eight governments, including Britain, Germany and France, had written to the commission to demand that Brussels officials should feel the painful cuts felt by other public sector workers following national austerity measures.

Yesterday, the British Treasury strongly attacked the plans for an inflation-busting rise in EU spending as "completely unrealistic" in a recession which has forced national austerity measures across Europe.

The proposed staffing reforms are unlikely to satisfy demands for "very substantial reductions in spending, including salaries, pensions and benefits" for the EU's 55,000 officials, who are mainly based in Brussels and Luxembourg.

There will be no change to legally binding and automatic pay increases, even through the notorious "Brussels index" will be replaced with normal measures of inflation.

While cuts to jobs and an increase in retirement age, from 60 to 65, will save money on pensions, the bill for retired officials will still become larger than the salary cost of active staff over the next 30 years.

There will also be no change to a perk that allows top EU officials at the top EU pay grade of €198,000 to receive up to €33,000 a year in allowances to compensate them for living in Brussels all their working life.

Nevertheless, commission officials have suggested that trade union opposition to change could lead to strike action. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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