5th Jun 2023

Barroso tops commission expenditure list

  • Travels a lot: Barroso in Pittsburgh, at the G20 meeting in September 2009 (Photo: European Commission)

Europe's taxpayers were charged almost €4 million last year for travel expenses, official dinners and diplomatic gifts related to the European Commission. The commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, accounted for over €700,000 of the bill.

The bulk of the expenditure (some €3.5 million) represents travel costs, while the remaining €355,338 were paid out in so-called representation costs - dinners and gifts given to other officials. The data come from the commission paymaster's office, in reply to an information request from Dutch RTL News television, which published them on its website.

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Mr Barroso's 66 travel engagements last year amounted to a total of €697,773. The 10 trips outside the EU, such as the G20 summit in Pittsburgh or the EU-Russia summit in Khabarovsk, had an average cost of €21,898 each, while his intra-EU travels cost roughly three times less per outing.

"Mr Barroso travels a lot and the European Commission doesn't have an official plane, unlike governments," a spokesperson for the commission told this website.

The most modest commissioner was Lithuania's Dalia Grybauskaite, who served until summer last year, when she was elected president in her country and was afterwards replaced by Algirdas Semeta. The pair's combined travel and protocol expenses amounted to €14,553.

All the other commissioners spent between €50,000 and €400,000 last year, with external relations commissioner Benita Ferrerro Waldner being the second highest spender after Mr Barroso, at €435,257.

One commissioner was even more on the roads than Mr Barroso himself, Vladimir Spidla, in charge of employment and social affairs. His travel costs stayed below the €70,000 threshold, however, as most of his 67 trips were in EU countries.

Two foreign trips stand out in the chart, as they exceed Mr Barroso's average cost when traveling abroad: Anti-fraud commissioner Siim Kallas from Estonia traveled twice outside the EU for an average of €26,186 per outing.

One of the trips, according to his website, was in October 2009 to Murmansk, Russia, where Mr Kallas presented a speech at a session of the Barents Euro-Arctic council, an inter-governmental body for the region. His overall expenditure however stays in the lower range – at €88,569.

The standard gross salary of an EU commissioner is €19,909 per month, plus residence allowances of 15 percent of their salary and a monthly "entertainment allowance" of €607, out of which the commissioner can deduct meals and protocol-related gifts, such as flowers or pens.

If the commissioner is a vice-president, then his gross monthly salary exceeds €22,000, and the entertainment allowance is €911.38. Mr Barroso's salary is €24,422 a month and his entertainment allowance comes to €1,418 a month.

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