Backlash as EU 'zombie committee' demands £174 for attending online meetings - 'Cronyism!'

News   |  03.05. 2021

A EUROPEAN UNION "zombie Committee" has sparked a backlash after asking the bloc to fork out £174 per delegate attending virtual meetings.

EU countries moved to block the European Economic and Social Committee’s controversial spending plans amid growing consensus the little-known institution is a colossal waste of money. The EESC is a body of around 329 trade union representatives the bloc’s decision-makers are meant to go to for opinions on proposed legislation. Members of the committee would normally be handed £252 for physically attending summits in Brussels, to pay for hotels and restaurant bills.

The EESC promised to reform its spending habits in the wake of the pandemic, instead proposing to the European Council Budget Committee it hands delegates £174 for attending virtual meetings.

The proposal provoked a furious response and was rejected by EU diplomats at the meeting on Tuesday.

One source told “The EU’s ‘Zombie Committee’ asked the Council for €200 per delegate to attend virtual meetings. Have they lost the plot?

“They must be drunk sucking the milk of European taxpayers’ money.”

Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský, of the European People’s Party, told this website: “The proposed daily allowance of €200 for sitting home connected to online meetings is yet another proof of cronyism in the European Economic and Social Committee."

“As much as I appreciate the work done by Members of the Committee in their real jobs, the outputs they produce are not worth a remuneration, not talking about a daily allowance for visiting Brussels when they stay home comfortably.”

 “I am glad that the Council shares this view and blocked the outrageous proposal. After all, Member States representatives are addressees of the Committee’s opinions too."

“They have probably made a picture for themselves how much these documents are really useful for their work.”

Critics have long claimed the EESC has had little impact in the EU’s decision-making processes since it was formed in 1957 as “the voice of organised civil society in Europe”.

As well as its controversial spending habits, the £121 million-a-year institution has been whacked by recent workplace bullying allegations.

Many insiders believe it is an outdated and expensive relic from a bygone era.

“But I cannot imagine any moment where they had real influence on decision-making.”

Last year the EESC became embroiled in a scandal when MEPs rejected the institution’s 2018 financial accounts.

The EU Parliament furiously rejected it over concerns that the institution hadn’t responded to an alleged bullying scandal.

More here.