EU scraps staff perks

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The Independent Online
PERKS for Eurocrats which cost British taxpayers millions of pounds are to be axed in the biggest overhaul of the Brussels gravy train for 40 years, writes Marie Woolf.

Documents obtained by the Independent on Sunday reveal that "golden farewells", which give officials 70 per cent of their salaries for five years after retirement are to go, along with travel allowances worth pounds 11m annually. Most significantly, the "jobs for life" status enjoyed by EU workers will go.

A panel appointed by the Commission to draw up proposals for modernising the terms of employment in EU institutions has concluded that benefits must be slashed to bring the privileged Eurocrats into line with national civil services.

If adopted later this month, as expected, by Commissioners including Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader, the plans will anger officials in the Commission and European Parliament. The report calls for tough disciplinary procedures to deal with corruption, and a watchdog scheme "for the observation of professional inadequacy".

It represents the end of jobs for life for civil servants working in the European Parliament, European Commission, Council and Court of Auditors. Their salaries can rise to more than pounds 100,000 a year with perks, including relocation subsidies and mileage, worth thousands more. In addition, the committee proposes to review the controversial system of invalidity benefits which allow people who have retired on grounds of ill health to receive a full pension on the same terms they would receive at 65.

Many Eurocrats may be abusing the system or working on the side while receiving these generous sickness allowances.

The "Committee of Reflection", made up of union leaders and officials, was appointed after a mass walkout by the Commission's staff in April. Jacques Santer, the Commission President, appointed the panel to devise ways to modernise employment practices.

Mad world, page 14