Monday

6th Apr 2020

MEPs may scrap call for scrutiny on allowances

  • MEPs receive a monthly office allowance, but are not held accountable how they spend it (Photo: EUobserver)

Members of the two largest political groups in the European Parliament have tabled an amendment that would weaken a call for greater scrutiny on the way MEPs spend their office allowances.

The amendment will be put to the vote on Wednesday (29 April) as part of a wider vote which would sign off the European Parliament's 2013 budget.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • MEPs will vote on their allowances Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: European Parliament / Pietro Naj-Oleari)

Each of the 751 MEPs receives a monthly “general expenditure allowance” of €4,299, to cover the cost of office(s), computers, telephones, and other office-related expenses. But there are no checks on how they spend it.

The original text, which was adopted by the parliament's budgetary affairs committee in March, included the phrase: “[the Parliament] considers it advisable for every Member to submit an end-of-year public report on these allowances”.

The amendment, if adopted, would change that to: “[the Parliament] calls on the Bureau [the EP's administrative body] to work on the definition of more precise rules regarding the accountability of expenditures authorised under this allowance, without causing additional costs to Parliament”.

Furthermore, the amendment states that if it is adopted, two paragraphs (43 and 44) criticising the virtually unchecked payout of the allowances, would fall. These paragraphs call for “the introduction of obligatory annual reporting by the Members of their expenditures paid out of” the office allowance.

Dutch Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, who is the shadow rapporteur in the file and favours greater scrutiny, questioned the automatism that paragraphs 43 and 44 should fall, were the amendment adopted.

The amendment was tabled by Spanish socialist MEP Ines Ayala, German conservative MEP Markus Pieper, and French socialist MEP Gilles Pargneaux. Pargneaux was also the author of the original report.

While the conservative and the socialist groups in the parliament, who enjoy a majority together, often have considerable party discipline, Gerbrandy notes that divisions on the issue of MEP office allowances are common in most groups.

“It has to do with what is common in an MEP's national political culture. Members of the German national parliament for example also receive a lump-sum allowance”, the Dutch MEP said, adding that the national perception of 'Brussels' will also likely be a factor influencing how MEPs will vote.

Update: The amendment was adopted with 576 votes in favour, 74 against, and 48 abstentions.

MEPs to raise monthly allowances

MEPs are increasing their monthly allowances, arguing that it is justified as they have remained unchanged since 2011.

News in Brief

  1. Three arrested in deadly French 'terror' attack
  2. Greece quarantines two migrant camps
  3. UK premier Boris Johnson hospitalised with coronavirus
  4. Former Libyan rebel leader Jibril dies of corona
  5. EU waives customs duties, VAT on vital medical imports
  6. Air France-KLM seeks state-backed loans
  7. New ventilators for EU will take time, commission says
  8. Drugs firms managing to meet demand, EU says

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Coronabonds clash continues This WEEK
  2. EU depicts Africa's health system as a threat
  3. Greenland watches ... and waits for virus
  4. Coronavirus exposes lack of common data approach
  5. Virus recovery talks should ditch old taboos: EU's Vestager
  6. EU's 'Irini' Libya mission: Europe's Operation Cassandra
  7. Slovak army deployed to quarantine Roma settlements
  8. Lockdown: EU officials lobbied via WhatsApp and Skype

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us