Costly waste of the EU's 'Arms length' agencies

21-Nov-2013 @ 11:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Many of The European Union's agencies and institutionsare unnecessary talking shops and duplicate work which couldreadily be handled by existing national bodies, Conservative MEPswill warn today.

Altogether the EU has no fewer than 32 separately-staffedand headquartered agencies. They cost Europe's taxpayers an eye-watering£650million a year, with the total set to increase substantially over thecoming years.

But as their budget performance comes underfocus at the European Parliament today, Conservatives will insist that millionsof pounds of taxpayers' money could be saved if many of these costlyorganisations were merged or scrapped altogether.

West Midlands MEP Philip Bradbourn, Conservativespokesman on budgetary control, will contribute to a report onagency costs as shadow draftsman. He believes the agencies are lacking inproper democratic oversight and massively expensive, but many are also entirelyunjustified by any meaningful contribution to Europe's wellbeing or prosperity.

In advance of today's debate in Strasbourg he said:"In general these bodies spend a fortune and spend it badly.

"When they were set up with lots of staffon generous packages, you might have expected staffing elsewhere in theEuropean Commission to decrease as the work shifted over. That never happened,so what we see is an ongoing job-creation scheme for eurocrats.

"These agencies are based all over Europe andget dished out to member states like presents from a tombola.."

Mr Bradbourn condemned other bodies involving the EU suchas the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and SocialCommittee, as little more than talking shops. Their existence wasenshrined in the treaties - but the EU should not be obliged to contributeto their exorbitant cost, he said: "As far as we are concerned,if Europe's local authorities want to go on funding this exercise, that shouldbe a matter for them."

He also insisted that even if some agencies diduseful work that was not replicated elsewhere, many of them could be merged toachieve massive cuts in running costs.

He explained: "Why, for example do we need a GenderEquality Agency as well as a Fundamental Rights Agency. Surely one bodycould look after all matters to do with rights and equality much of which inany case is enshrined in the national law of Member countries.

Other problems with the agencies whichConservatives will highlight include widespread "mission creep",with agencies involving themselves in unwarranted areas, and conflicts ofinterest such as agency chiefs having links with related pressure groups.

Mr Bradbourn concluded: "The whole system ofagencies is, by and large, a costly, wasteful mess. Too many establishmentsseem to serve the purposes of the bureaucrats, not the people. That must changeif the EU is to put itself on better terms with its public."

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