“The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall be assisted by an Economic and Social Committee (…) acting in an advisory capacity.” – 1957, Rome Treaty.
One of the oldest institutions of the EU, EESC, faces challenges in many levels. European Parliament, firstly the Committee on Budgetary Control, then the full Parliament, does not seem to approve the budget of the EESC as it did for the last year which was €150 million. MEP Tomáš Zdechovský said that “something is wrong when a ‘zombie committee’ costs the EU tens of millions,” he continued, “I see no reason why we should keep alive ossified committees whose importance is marginal.”
Many issues, among others, the per diem allowance for the days the members are attending EESC meetings, which may be used for local transport, lodging and food, caused another tension. Refused to release the spending of committee during the pandemic, the EESC decided to still offer a reduced per diem to its 329 members during the pandemic, even though meetings moved online. The institution ultimately spent €2.3 million on pandemic per diems in 2020.
The EESC is now accused of “mafia-style” organization “rewarding loyalty with promotions and punishing staff who raised basic complaints,” told another former staff member POLITICO. The Committee’s survival is at the stake as the European Parliament is questioning its function, budget and spending.