The countless extra-territorial entities created since the introduction of the euro are now totally reliant on the common currency’s continued existence.
Whenever huge budgets are put on the table and there is little regulation or oversight, there is the inevitable rise of aggressive bureaucracies whose aim is to insure a long stay at the funding trough. So it is in Euroland.
This may bring to mind another international agency, the United Nations. However the United Nations, surely one more maze of national and self-interest, pales in relation to the euro-stoked organizations. This is quite remarkable given that the UN has had more than a fifty-year head start perfecting bureaucracy building; but more about that later.
The public face of the Euro Crisis is the entrenched technocrats and foreign ministers hurriedly convening meetings, summits, press conferences and private discussions throughout European capitals.
They often imply a high-minded reason for the survival of the euro; a movement toward a unified Europe, a Europe free of boundaries and discord that marked the past several hundred years. However, their more immediate need is to insure a constant inflow of the currency in order to accommodate their ever-increasing budgets.
These Euro Players can, at any moment, quickly reverse course in response to each political crisis or push backs by one national parliament or the other. However their unified goal has always been to “keep the euro alive—at all costs;” an expression used more emphatically recently after still more midnight meetings end with no far reaching plan.
Who are these spokespeople? Where did they come from? Who gave them so much authority? Why are they so determined to keep alive a currency barely twelve years old—”at all costs?”
Nigel Farage, a British member of the European Parliament, takes great joy directing these questions to two of the more colorless dolts in this enduring Euro Drama; Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
For those of you, who like myself, delight in someone asking a highly paid bureaucrat “Who exactly are you? Can you tell us what is it that you do?” included is this brief video clip of Mr. Farage addressing these two men. It is an amusingly (to me, anyway) theatrical performance, even if in front of an empty European Parliament.
Barroso and Rumpoy’s silence varies from surly contempt to amused smugness. Regardless, they seem to be thinking; “I hustled my way into this job and I’m not going anywhere soon—and what I do is to make sure that I can keep doing whatever it is I do.”
Farage has been censured for his personal attacks by the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek; a toothless action, but these Sleepy Hollow agencies never intend to call attention to themselves.
As you can see there are European Parliaments, European Councils, European Commissions, European Unions and many, many more players. A common thread amongst them is the intermittent uncovering of corruption, chronyism, and empire building at the highest levels. Similar to the US Congress, except that in Europe this unfolds on a landscape of twenty-seven countries, at last count.
In 2004, Mr. Farage revealed that Jacques Barrot, the then French Commissioner Delegate to the European Parliament (they love titles) had previously been banned for two years from elected office in France as a result of a conviction for embezzlement of government funds. Nonetheless, he became European Commission vice president, appointed by Manuel Jose Barroso.
In 2005, Barroso himself was a weeklong guest on the yacht of a Greek shipping billionaire only one month before the Commission approved (by a different president) EUR10.3 million in Greek state aid for the shipping company. The image of the current sovereign basket case, Greece, carving out chunks of its budget as “state aid” for the European Union [EU] chronies gives some indication of the great power quietly wielded by these bureaucrats; a power that exists far removed from any nation itself.
Many of these organizations existed before the adoption of the euro, but in comparison to their current roles as international dealmakers and power grabbers they were previously more similar to outback Rotarian Clubs.
It was of course the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 that created the single currency and gave the steroid injection for the rebundling, renaming, recombining and ultimately creation of dozens of new entities under the European Union umbrella.
The EU is a poster child for unchecked power base building. Every year they churn out reports, studies, inquiries, statistical analysis, investigations, and form ad hoc committees regarding seemingly every aspect of human life; terrorism, postal services, organized crime, trafficking in human beings, drug addiction, forestation (and, presumably, deforestation), border management, animal welfare (honestly!), consumer protection, maritime security, transport safety, radioactive waste, disaster preparation, numerous individual country studies, food safety and —well, the list is endless.
And mostly everything is written, archived, and translated into as many as 22 languages. Possibly, there is even a committee that decides what should be translated into which languages. Could it be that the most secure job to have in Europe these days would be a translator of Dutch to Slovakian?
A sampling of the current entities under the EU umbrella include:
European Investment Bank
European Administrative School
Community Fisheries Control Agency
European Agency for Fundamental Rights
European Institute For Gender Equality
(EMU) Economic & Monetary Union
Joint Research Center
European Group on Ethics in Science & New Technologies
Court of Justice
European Court of Human Rights
Registrar of the Court of First Instance (don’t ask me what this is about)
European Civil Service Tribunal
Court of Auditors
European Anti Fraud Office
European Development fund
European Economic & Social Committee
Committee of the Regions (your guess is as good as mine)
And of course,
The European Parliament
— and there are dozens more.
Revealed in the EU 2005 annual report is that the European Parliament’s Secretariat (is this one included above?) had 4,696 permanent posts. The European Commission had 17, 571 permanent administrative posts and 366 temporary posts and 3,705 permanent research posts.
The 2005 budget for the 25 member states was EUR 116.6 billion
Administration costs amounted to EUR 6.293 billion
Pensions EUR 900 million
The 2010 EU budget for its increased membership to 27 members was 21.5% higher at EUR 141.5 billion and a total administrative cost listed at 6% of that amount or EUR 8.4 billion. We can estimate the 2010 pension liability at least EUR 1.1 billion.
And to keep up with the changing times new agencies were added to the more recent budget; European Globalization Adjustment Fund, and ones dealing with cybercrime, information systems, telecommunications, and tourism.
The other 900-pound gorilla at this Eurofest, The European Central Bank (ECB), has similar expanding budgets and pension liabilities.
In 2005 the ECB had 1,331 employees and a pension liability of EUR 223.5 million
In 2010 the ECB staff increased to 1,607 and the pension obligations increased a huge 100% to EUR555.5 million.
The pensions of the EU and ECB amounted to approximately EUR 1.6 billion in 2010 alone. No wonder why the euro must be “kept alive—at all costs.” Who will make good on the generous pension plans of these organizations if the Euro Tent folds up? With the inevitable reinstatement of the Greek drachma or Italian lira or peseta, will those countries assume the obligations for Belgian economists or German statisticians? Let alone, for the politicos at the top who have insured extremely generous pensions, and other perks, for themselves? Not likely.
By comparison, the United Nations “core” budget for 2010-2011 (two years) was, in comparison, a trifling US$5.01 billion and an added $8 billion for peace keeping, and other “special” expenditures. Its 2004-2005 “core” budget was $3.16 billion and $5 billion for peacekeeping and other special expenditures.
The numbers are stated here with an understanding that these agencies enduring expertise is to move items around the budget at will, burying, juggling, or putting on a happy face wherever deemed necessary.
This is not to suggest that there may not be valid reasons for the euro’s survival; anymore more than criticism of the U.S. Congress for its flagrant opportunism would necessarily support its abolition.
Nor is this meant to negate the usefulness of some of these programs nor the input of the many talented people dedicated to their success.
Nonetheless, perhaps this new age corps of European financial bureaucrats and technocrats have a remarkable gift for self -preservation, but no strategy to prevent the inevitable financial destruction that they themselves helped engineer.
Alan Geik has an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics & Political Science. One of the themes of his articles is the ongoing fraud of the government bailouts of major banks world wide. The ultimate result of which will be the crashing of the financial system.
He has pointed out in previous articles that many of the same U.S. Congresspeople bailed out the same banks in 2008 that they did not once, but twice, only twenty five years before.