Friday, March 30, 2012

Europe - euronews I talk: Is the European Commission just another red tape brigade in the EU?

Published on Mar 29, 2012 by Alex Taylor "We all hate annoying bureaucracy and a mindless filling out of useless forms, whether it be on paper or on the net. Is the European Commission doing anything to reduce red tape from our daily lives or is it part of the problem? Here to answer your questions is the EU Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
Maroš Šefčovič. Did I pronounce your name right?"

Maroš Šefčovič: "Perfect, very good, very good pronunciation."

Alex Taylor: "You say Maroš....?"

Maroš Šefčovič: "Cheftchovitch"

Alex Taylor: "Cheftchovitch. OK right. You're ready to answer our citizens' questions?"

Maroš Šefčovič: "Absolutely, yes."

Alex Taylor: "First question to you from Rafael."

"I want to know why the administration is so burdened with paperwork. There's so much of it in relation to the administration; unemployment, the school enrolment of children.... there's just too much! There are plenty of Municipalities, lots of jurisdictions, regional and federal and it's very difficult to understand it all here in Brussels."

Alex Taylor: "We all thought that the internet was going to make things much easier, less paper and so forth. It's not the case, why?"

Maroš Šefčovič: "Not always but I have to agree with our citizen here that sometimes we still have overlapping competencies, especially between the local and national level and sometimes even the European one."

Alex Taylor: "Can't you do anything about that?"

Maroš Šefčovič: "Yes of course. I think when I was in Westminster we had a discussion how on we could reduce the bureaucracy and there was a suggestion that we should use the British approach: one directive in and one out. I said that we could have an even better approach: let's put 27 national laws in and replace them with one European law."

Alex Taylor: "Haven't we already been down that road?"

Maroš Šefčovič: "I think that this is a concept that we have to follow in the future because we can use European laws to replace most of the national laws and to use e-government much better than we do right now and I'm sure that the citizens would appreciate that."

Alex Taylor: "Well good luck on imposing that on the government. Second question from Alain."

"My name is Alain, I am Belgian. I would like to ask the following question: all European states have been requested by the European Commission to make serious efforts to reduce public spending, particularly in terms of operating costs and personnel costs. I wonder if the European authorities are ready to make the same effort? Thank you."

Alex Taylor: "Do you practice what you preach Mr Šefčovič? I mean the European Commission last year asked for a 4.9% increase in its budget."

Maroš Šefčovič: "Yes and you know why? Because 94% of our budget goes back to the member states. So actually now we have a big problem with unpaid receipts because we knew that in December we would receive the invoices coming from the member states for good executions of the program."

Alex Taylor: "Yes that's true but all psychologically when you ask everybody else to make reductions...."

Maroš Šefčovič: "I think we would really appreciate the help of the media and also the help of national politicians, to explain why we are asking for the 4.6% increase, because now we have a complaint from the national government that, 'how come the receipts cannot be paid?' When actually, by the end of the year we will be short by 11 billion euros, which we have to pay back to the member states.

"But I think that the question the gentleman was asking about is what we do in the administration, how big an effort we show. I think that the very important thing to underline is that the administrative budget is only less than 6% of the overall budget, so 94% goes back to the member states. But nevertheless we appreciate how important this is and what I have suggested is a 5% cut in the personnel. I have also suggested prolonging working hours without pay increases and increasing the pension age - all the measures which are actually taking place on a national level as well."

Alex Taylor: "OK let's have a third question here on I talk and it's from Ignacio Martin."

"Good morning. My name is Ignacio Martin, I'm Spanish. I would like to ask the Commissioner: about the possibility of improving the integration of the administrative systems on a European level, so that relations between the European citizens will be easier and the bureaucratic barriers between us can be reduced. Thank you very much."

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