Facing Austerity, Europe's Bureaucrats Chafe

Published in

Workers protesting austerity on the streets of southern Europe weren't to know it, but earlier this month there was also a strike at the heart of the European Union - by bureaucrats fighting possible cuts, Reuters reported. For an increasing number of Europeans, cuts in Brussels are what is needed. The European capital has told member states to reduce spending, but as millions in Spain, Portugal and Greece feel the pain in pay, pensions, and social services, people are looking to the centre and finding what looks like fat. Britain has led the way. Newspapers there have for decades carped at cosy 'eurocrats', as they call Europe's civil servants. Prime Minister David Cameron need only mention the EU and generous spending to produce a sea of nods and chants of "hear, hear!" around parliament. "We can't have European spending going up and up and up when we're having to make difficult decisions in so many different areas," Cameron told reporters at the last summit of EU leaders in October, going on to express his frustration at the salaries of civil servants in Brussels. Now, doubts are mounting in other member states. Such concerns have held up talks over the EU's long-term budget, a financial programme worth more than 1 trillion euros (818.3 billion pounds) over the next seven years. EU leaders hope to reach a deal at a summit on November 22-23.