Late April 2010 and European leaders were huddled in talks with IMF officials and the Greek government. If Greece were to default on its huge debt in May, the consequences for Greece, for Europe and the single currency euro would be severe. Across Europe, financial crisis was breaking out in Italy, Spain and Portgual too. If it proved possible to save Greece from ruin in the short-term then massive cuts in debt and public spending would also be needed in the medium- and long-term. This was clearly a turning point for Europe and the time for profligate spending – in Greece and elsewhere in Europe – was over.
Or – not quite.
In the swishy offices and corridors of self-regarding officials at EU headquarters in Brussels – far from the homes and concerns of ‘ordinary’ working Europeans – bureaucrats were sublimely unconcerned about such mundane matters as spending cuts and debt. The austerity measures being demanded of Greece and the Greeks were really nothing to do with them. In fact, so remote were they from financial responsibility, economic crisis or any accountabiility that they were busy awarding themselves a whopping 6% budget increase.
No-one in Europe will be the slightest bit surprised. The Brussels gravy train which so richly deserves to be derailed continues to hurtle along at full speed, dispensing largesse to officials and managers who come up with pointless plans such as last year’s wheeze to force every driver in Europe to buy a regulation red plastic triangle and regulation fluorescent yellow vest to be kept in their car. Fines and penalties were threatened to make sure all of Europe’s drivers bought these items. No information was forthcoming about the men who made squillions selling them.
Now the bureaucrats, whose defining aim in life appears to be receipt of huge salaries and unlimited expenses, are shovelling hundreds of millions more into their pockets. And yet already these penpushers who sit around ‘regulating’ everything that moves, pay themselves nearly £8 billion a year.
The contempt shown by Europe’s leadership and bureaucracy to European citizens is second only to the contempt they have for auditors.
The European Commission has now failed in every one of the last 15 yearsto have its accounts signed off by auditors. In fifteen years, there hasn’t been a single European firm of auditors willing to say the EU’s accounts are anything like honest. Not one accounting company on the entire European continent. Even Michael Corleone would refuse to endorse the accounts of the EU.
Yet year after year, the EU somehow gets away with this abuse of funds on a huge scale. National governments don’t protest. Press and media barely raise a squeak. The Commission is so remote from the European people it gets all its cash from that it manages to isolate itself from accountability or criticism.
Along with giving themselves a huge budget increase, their latest wheeze is to establish an “EU new diplomatic service” which will reportedly add further billions in salaries and expenses to their total spend.
The EU Budget Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski – one of the entirely faceless bureacrats almost no-one in Europe has ever heard of – blithely commented that the massive spending increase was necessary so that Brussels bureaucrats could boost economic recovery in Europe.
Right. Presumably by eating out every day when they’re not shopping?
A British Member of the European Parliament, Nigel Farage, said that the European Commission was “living in cloud cuckoo land. With Greece collapsing and budgets tightening across Europe, the European Commission has demonstrated once again that it is utterly immune from reality.”
It’s no mystery that these greedy feather-bedded EU officials continue to sink their snouts deep in the trough of public money. It is a huge mystery however that Europeans continue to let them get away with it.