Quangos could go 'with no impact'23/04/2012 - 18:28:54
Ten EU “quangos” costing taxpayers nearly €440m a year could be abolished with little or no impact on European policy, a new report claimed today.
Among those which should be scrapped, says campaigning group Open Europe, are two long-standing EU bodies designed specifically to link the EU with the people.
But the Economic and Social Committee – in being since 1958 – is unknown and lacks clout, while the Committee of the Regions, bringing together local and regional politicians, is overshadowed by the European Parliament and lacks “valid justification for its existence”, says the report.
Entitled The Rise Of The Quangos, the dossier declares: “A growing number of officials and politicians are realising that having two committees which together cost €215m but which deliver no clear added value is simply unsustainable in such economically challenging times.”
But it says that, as they are “embedded” in the EU’s treaties, scrapping them would be “difficult.”
Others which should be axed, says the report, include the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Institute for Gender Equality – combined annual budget €28m – and the €63.5m-a-year European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).
They and the rest identified for scrapping either overlap with national bodies or with existing EU-related bodies and add little or no value, says Open Europe, adding: “On balance, with some exceptions for bodies that actively facilitate trade or pool expertise, it is unclear what value many of these agencies and committees add.
“Therefore, it would be wholly illogical to insulate them from significant cuts, particularly given attempts by the UK and other member states to balance budgets precisely by cutting down on this type of expenditure.”
Open Europe research analyst Pawel Swidlicki said: “While some of these EU quangos perform valuable work, many others serve no practical purpose whatsoever apart from soaking up taxpayers’ money.
“Ironically, many of these bodies would never have survived the type of austerity programmes that the EU is now drawing up for member states as Europe fights through its worst crisis in a generation.”
UK Independence Party MEP for Yorkshire Godfrey Bloom said: “This is a prime example of the EU wasting money on funding more bureaucracy while demanding other people and our own Government cut spending.”
The report says there are currently 52 EU Quangos, double the number in 2004. Before 1990 there were only three.
Total cost to European taxpayers now stands at €2.64bn – up by 33% compared with 2010.
The vast bulk of the money comes from the 27 EU countries and about 10% is contributed by non-EU states such as Norway.
The report singles out the European Chemicals Agency as a useful agency, but insisted that many of the rest “add little or no value while duplicating the work of each other.”
It adds: “Despite the problems with duplication and irrelevance, as with many areas of EU activity, once something is established, it becomes very difficult to abolish or even reform”.
“Therefore, EU agencies and committees can continue to exist year on year at the expense of Europe’s taxpayers despite lacking purpose.”
The report comes before Wednesday’s publication by the European Commission of next year’s proposed EU spending plans.
This afternoon one commission official said the measures would include plans to cut EU agency running costs, but said national authorities had ignored proposed reductions which had been put forward in the past, adding: “Each EU member state wants a European agency on its own ground so, of course, that means member states have pushed up costs.”
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