Tuesday

25th Jul 2017

EP transparency 'would require 40-75 new staff'

  • MEPs receive a €4,299 monthly allowance for office expenses, but there are hardly any checks on how it's spent (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament's own wording of an adopted text on its budget is hampering its expressed wish for greater transparency of a €4,299 monthly allowance which each MEP receives to cover office costs.

The EP secretariat says that additional transparency would require hiring between 40 and 75 new staff members, something which MEPs have said they do not want to pay for.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In April, the plenary session of the EP signed off on its own 2013 budget, a process known as the discharge. In the adopted text, MEPs said more transparency was needed for the so-called “general expenditure allowance” (GEA), which can be used to cover phone, computer, and other office-related expenses.

The allowance is paid as a lump sum and receipts are not necessary. Only in the event of suspicious circumstances are the expenses investigated.

The EP had originally considered using much tougher language, possibly calling for obligatory annual reporting by MEPs.

However, the two largest groups in the EP, the centre-right EPP and centre-left S&D, tabled a last-minute amendment that weakened the text and introduced what was criticised by some as an inconsistency.

MEPs “[called] 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”.

The phrase “without causing additional costs” limits what can be done to increase transparency.

MEPs in the budgetary control committee are due to discuss the follow-up to the April discharge on Thursday (15 October).

Ahead of the debate, the EP's secretariat published a response to the parliament's text.

“A revision of the non-exhaustive list which can be defrayed from the general expenditure allowance is being prepared for consideration by the Bureau”, the document said.

“However, a comprehensive system of control and direct payment of the GEA would necessitate the creation of 40 to 75 new posts in the area of financial management, depending on the degree of control required, as controls of small sum expenditure is highly human resource intensive and could be considered as falling under the category of excessive cost of control following evaluation under Art. 31(3) and 33 of the [Financial Regulation].”

The case of the missing amendments

At least two MEPs may bring up the GEA case, or at least the procedure of the vote.

Hungarian Green Benedek Javor and Dutch Liberal Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy are disgruntled that two amendments which would have called for greater scrutiny were not put to the vote in April.

After the last-minute amendment was adopted, the acting president of the plenary session skipped voting on those two amendments.

Javor and Gerbrandy have been exchanging letters with EP president Martin Schulz on the matter. In a letter dated 8 September, Schulz said he decided that the two amendments would fall if the “compromise position tabled by two groups” was adopted.

Javor's office told this website they are drafting a letter to the European Ombudsman.

MEPs may scrap call for scrutiny on allowances

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

EU parliament staff object to canteen price hikes

The EP has stopped subsidising its self-service restaurant, leading to price increases for staff who choose to eat there. It was even discussed in the Committee on Budgetary Control.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. US votes on sanctions against EU firms in Russia project
  2. Journalists on trial highlights Turkey's crackdown
  3. EU to give research tips on dual food quality
  4. Polish president's veto leaves uncertainties over next move
  5. EU Commission unmoved by Polish president's veto
  6. UK presses the Brexit pause button
  7. German car cartel case may take long time to prove
  8. Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights