MEPs want European Union agencies to raise more of their own cash and “reduce pressure on the EU budget.”
The Parliament’s budgets committee wants to study ways in which the agencies that are funded out of the central budget can become more self-sufficient, especially now that the U.K. is leaving the bloc.
In a call for tender on how to achieve this, obtained by POLITICO, think-tanks, consultancies and research centers are invited to come up with ways to identify “which types of work currently carried out by those EU agencies could bring in revenues by charging fees.”
There are 33 decentralized EU agencies with an estimated total budget of around €2.47 billion for 2018. Around €1.36 billion of that is paid out of the EU annual budget. The EU budget for the current 2014-2020 timeframe is around €140 billion a year.
Some agencies‚ including the European Medicines Agency, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, the Community Plant Variety Office and the European Banking Authority — are either partially or fully self-financed or receive money from national authorities. Others, however, are fully funded from the EU budget.
The call for tender mentions six agencies that fall into this category, including the European Food Safety Authority, the European Maritime Safety Agency and the European Railway Agency.
The deadline for proposals is December 20 with a final draft report due in late May 2018, coinciding with the Commission publishing its plans for the EU budget after 2020. There could be major cuts in the budget because of Brexit and the need to fund political priorities such as migration and security.
It is not the first time MEPs have looked into how to tweak the business models of some agencies. In recent years the Parliament published several studies, including on the impact of the EU and national budgets on EU agencies.
Jens Geier, a German center-left MEP and member of the budgets committee, said the study was commissioned “to further explore the possibility to introduce fees for some agencies that do not have this option yet.”
“In recent years, several agencies were facing a situation in which their workload increased, but their budgets did not increase to the same extent, due to constraints of the EU budget,” Geier said.
He added that large industries would not mind paying fees to EU agencies “as long as they receive high quality and speedy services.”