The EU has some 500 million 'citizens' with whom it is keen to communicate directly, bypassing national democratic and consultative structures. With its vast administrative budget and human resource, you'd imagine this would pose a real threat and challenge not only to the 'formal' national structures responsible for voter dialogue, but to all of us little folk who use the new media to make our point. Just thank goodness for the natural greed, indolence and incompetence of the EU nomenklatura that such efforts are so risibly hopeless that this blog does a better job than one of the top funded EU agencies leading the initiative.
The Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the lead agency for 'engaging participation', has recently increased its budget by 50% reports EUobserver, to around €130m annually, nearly all of it spent on the salaries and expenses of its 50 officials and 344 members. Six officials are on a minimum salary of €180,000 and the rest enjoy a minimum wage of €123,890; additionally, each member gets travel expenses averaging €49,000 a year and a lump-sum payment for attending meetings. The annual cost of the committee is some €378,000 per member including the cost of dedicated officials.
Their success in 'engaging participation' with the EU's 500m citizens measured via their website places them amongst the middle ranks of UK political bloggers; 31k unique hits a month on the website, about the same as this blog. The committee say their VP for Communication is 'extremely active' on Twitter, though - and has 566 followers, only 393 of whom are fellow committee members and officials.
Any suggestion that the EESC is nothing but a self-serving gravy train operating solely to enrich its members is strongly denied, as are suggestions that this fraud and peculation amounts to criminal maladministration and the whole rotten shambles should do jail time.