Member states find it tough to cut back administrative spending

Few of the headings in the European Union’s budget carry as much symbolism as heading 5, the Union’s spending on administration. (A national minister used the adjective “totemic” last week.) It makes up less than 6.4% of the €960 billion multi-annual budget, but it is of great political importance for national leaders wishing to score points by attacking the ‘Brussels bureaucracy’. The heading is particularly vulnerable to attack because no member state – other than Belgium and Luxembourg, where most of that bureaucracy is located – has an interest in defending administrative spending. 

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