The vast European Union budget could be slashed overnight by almost a third amid evidence of spiraling expenditure on quangos, empty parliament buildings and staff pay and perks, a damning report has found.
Despite austerity throughout the Continent, the European Commission has proposed a 6.8 per cent increase in EU spending next year, while cutting only six out of almost 41,000 EU jobs, it says.
And for the next long-term EU budget after 2014, Brussels has proposed another 5 per cent increase.
Hypocritical: Despite austerity throughout the Continent, the European Commission has proposed a 6.8 per cent increase in EU spending next year, while cutting only six out of almost 41,000 EU jobs, it says
Now, following a line-by-line analysis of EU spending in 2012, think tank Open Europe is to set out an alternative budget that would reduce spending by almost 30 per cent – saving European taxpayers around £33billion annually.
And Britain would reduce its annual gross contribution to the EU budget by almost £4.6billion.
The cost of EU quangos has gone up by 33 per cent in two years, the report says. Simply scrapping those that duplicate work or add no value would save £350million.
It says getting rid of the European Parliament’s additional building in Strasbourg could save £146million.
Last year, the Parliament issued tenders with a combined value of more than £50.7million related to the maintenance of the building, although it was empty for 317 days.
Expenditure on MEPs’ salaries and allowances has increased by 77.5 per cent since 2005 and cost £154million in 2012, excluding pensions and transitional allowances. And expenditure on Commission staff salaries has risen by 17.9 per cent since 2005 and now totals £1.7billion.
Spending on schooling for children of EU officials currently stands at £137million, and is set for an increase in 2013 of 6.8 per cent.
There are also substantial savings to be made in a range of other areas, including administration, communications and justice, the report says.
Pawel Swidlicki of Open Europe said: ‘Given the economic climate in Europe, the UK has a golden opportunity to push for fundamental reform of the EU budget.
‘However, the Coalition is selling itself short in on-going talks over the EU’s long-term budget, given that its primary objectives of freezing spending and defending the rebate could be achieved simply by wielding its veto. The UK Government needs to be far more ambitious.’
No issue: Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy did not demand a watering down of Britain’s EU budget rebate
For example, more than one quarter of the EU budget is spent on subsidies to farmers and landowners, irrespective of whether they are engaged in any meaningful economic activity.
The report says slimming down the Common Agricultural Policy would bolster rural job creation while saving almost £19billion.David Cameron has previously agreed not to push too hard for reform of the policy, which favours French farmers.
In exchange, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy did not demand a watering down of Britain’s EU budget rebate.
However, the Prime Minister is under pressure from Tory backbenchers to take a tougher stance on Europe in negotiations over the next seven-year EU budget which will run from 2014-2021.
Talks are expected to come to a head next year.
Tory MP Andrea Leadsom, a leading figure in the eurosceptic Fresh Start group of MPs, said: ‘We should be far more aggressive in our negotiating position.’