Friday

27th May 2022

EU parliament to keep public in dark on MEP expenses

  • The EU parliament doesn't want the public to know how MEPs spend taxpayer money on restaurants and hotels (Photo: European Union 2014)

The European Parliament has decided to keep the public in the dark when it comes to how MEPs spend €40m a year of taxpayer money on restaurants, hotels, travel and other daily expenses.

The decision on Monday (2 July), made behind closed doors by the parliament's Bureau, which consists of the president and vice-presidents, comes after a year of debates on whether to increase transparency over the €4,400 each MEP receives a month in spending cash.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Nick Aiossa, at the Transparency International NGO's EU office, in a statement, described the Bureau decision as "absolutely scandalous".

He said the parliament had "failed to bring even a modicum of transparency and accountability to how MEPs are spending €40 million a year in taxpayers money."

Also known as the general expenditure allowance or GEA, the money comes without any paper trail as a lump sum on top of the monthly wages into their personal bank accounts.

Public pressure for greater transparency and a pending case at the European Court of Justice from a group of journalists appears to have had little impact on the final outcome of the talks.

Hopes that mandatory requirements for MEPs to keep receipts, return unused GEA amounts, get audits, or even publish such information were instead dashed.

The only novelty agreed by the Bureau was for MEPs to now have the money channelled into a separate bank account, instead of their personal one, and without any oversight.

A draft agreement of the proposal, seen by EUobserver, said the latest rules will apply to all current MEPs and won't be reevaluated until almost five years later.

Green Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala, who is one of the parliament's fourteen vice-presidents, says the Bureau decision shows "certain political groups are not listening to everyday people's concerns about how tax-payers money is being spent".

She said both the centre-right EPP and three of the five centre-left S&D vice-presidents had voted against the transparency measures.

Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud office, in past reports had also pointed out that the misuse of public funds at the European parliament is usually related to the fraudulent declaration of allowances, as well as fictitious employment, and other conflicts of interest.

Such scandals and their allegations have over the years hit the Danish People's Party, Marine Le Pen's National Front, Ukip under Nigel Farage, as well as MEPs from France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, and Romania, among many others.

This article was updated on 3 July, 12:36PM, to include two corrections. MEP Heidi Hautala is vice-president of the European Parliament, not of the Greens group; and according to her only three of five S&D members voted against - not all five.

EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg argued that disclosure of how MEPs use their monthly €4,400 expenses allowance risks violating an MEP's data protection rights. Journalists behind the case will appeal.

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us