EU bureaucrats' pay rises condemned
The Government has condemned planned pay rises for European Union bureaucrats as administrations across the continent were being forced to tighten their belts.
Treasury Economic Secretary Chloe Smith said the 1.7% rise in the wage bill was evidence of the European Commission's "estrangement from reality".
In a sign of increased ministerial exasperation over European finances, Ms Smith told MPs Chancellor George Osborne had taken the "unprecedented" step of voting against discharging the EU's 2010 budget.
MPs agreed without a vote to endorse the Government's view that the European Commission's pay proposals were "completely unacceptable".
Ms Smith said Whitehall departments were having administrative budgets slashed by 34% by 2014/15 and "the EU should show a similar drive to finding efficiency savings".
"Any suggestion of waste in the EU budget damages the standing of the EU institutions and of the EU as a whole," she said.
"However, its ambition is very evidently lacking. Strikingly, for 2012 the Commission propose to save only 695 euros (£583), representing much less than one thousandth of its 3.3 billion euro (£2.8 billion) budget.
"We are clear that the EU institutions must manage themselves, and the programmes they help manage, far better and on lower budgets.
"We have called for a cash freeze in EU administrative spending in recent annual budget negotiations and we want to see cash cuts in this area over the next multi-annual financial framework.
"Today, I can inform the House that the Chancellor took the unprecedented step of voting against discharging the accounts for the 2010 EU budget."