Three European civil servants unions in Brussels have issued a strike notice for February 5, ahead of the European Council meeting on February 7-8, to protest against rumoured additional budget cuts.
In a note addressed to the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, Uwe Corsepius, revealed by euractiv, the unions explain their move is due to the fact that “some member states have publicly announced their ambition to [cut] up to 15 billion euros” in the budget for administrative expenditures of the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) 2014-2020.
That particular budget heading is currently a little over 63 billion euros for the six year period, representing six percent of the planned total 1033 billion euros. It was 55.5 billion euros during the 2007-2013 MFF.
For Günther Lorenz, president of the Brussel’s “Union Syndicale,” one of the signatory unions, the cuts that may be announced at the coming EU council meeting will be too hard to bear. He told euronews EU civil servants are already under pressure because of cost-cutting measures that are planned to save 10 billion euros. They include longer work hours, higher taxes and retirement age and cuts in staffing levels.
“We lost nine percent of our purchasing power” because of these reforms, Lorenz said. He said the 45,000 agents (civil servants, contract and temporary workers) working for the EU institutions, which are to be reduced by five percent, faced measures that would have already triggered general strikes in other countries.
The unions said they feared more cuts would not be compatible with “the normal functioning of the union institutions and the maintenance of a competent, independent and permanent European civil service”.
Among the member states wanting to shrink the EU’s expenses, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is perhaps the most vocal. Last November, Cameron fiercely advocated an EU budget cut. However, Lorenz says behind him stand other countries, such as Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden that are in favour of cuts but still want further discussion.