Thursday

13th Aug 2020

Dutch MEP to lose €1,530 in Le Pen voting penalty

  • De Graaff (l) with ENF secretary-general Ludovic de Danne (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament will withhold €1,530 in allowances from Dutch member Marcel de Graaff, for unauthorised voting on behalf of his far-right French colleague Marine Le Pen.

The penalty is the result of an inquiry by EP president Martin Schulz, after De Graaff was seen using Le Pen's electronic voting card at a session in Strasbourg on 28 October, which is not allowed by parliament's rules.

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

“The president has decided to impose a penalty of mister De Graaff for his conduct during the votes at the sitting of the 28th of October,” said EP vice-president Ioan Mircea Pascu on Thursday (17 December) at a plenary session in Strasbourg.

De Graaff and Le Pen are co-chairs of the far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group.

Initially, the French leader of the National Front was accused of being involved in the incident. The leader of the largest group in parliament, centre-right EPP head Manfred Weber, had asked for a probe by Schulz into the “suspicion of fraud” by Le Pen.

With the penalty for De Graaff, Schulz implicitly acquitted Le Pen, who had already denied wrongdoing.

“I am totally innocent in this affair,” she told French media shortly after it came out, saying De Graaff had been “clumsy.”

She was received by Schulz on Wednesday to explain what happened.

The Dutch MEP does not have to pay a fine sensu stricto, but rather has to forego five instalments of a €306 daily allowance, which MEPs receive when they attend sessions or meetings in Brussels or Strasbourg.

Considering that MEPs also receive a monthly salary of €6,250.37 (after EU, but before national taxes); a €4,320 allowance for office expenses; and travel expenses, the penalty will not financially ruin the Dutch politician.

Following the announcement by Pascu, some members applauded. Then, De Graaff could be seen on camera looking over his shoulder, rubbing his thumb and index finger - a popular gesture, meaning money.

Schulz made the decision based on article 166 of the parliament's rules of procedure, which lists possible penalties for “exceptionally serious cases of disorder or disruption.”

On the basis of that rule, Schulz could also have suspended the member. The “forfeiture of entitlement” to the daily allowance could have been between two and 10 days.

EU to keep corporate sponsorship of presidencies

The chief administrators of the Council, representing member states, have issued draft guidelines on corporate sponsorships of EU presidencies. The guidelines do not ban sponsorships - despite the risks they pose to the EU's reputation as a whole.

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

News in Brief

  1. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  2. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says
  3. EU to finance new Covid-19 research projects
  4. Croatia receives EU earthquake relief funds
  5. Facemasks required throughout Brussels
  6. EU opposes Mexico's transparent junk food labels
  7. Greece accuses Turkey of 'escalation' in maritime dispute
  8. Slovakia expels three Russians linked to Berlin murder

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Belarus violence goes on, as EU ministers scramble
  2. French navy to deter Turkey's oil and gas grab
  3. EU ministers urged to talk Belarus, Turkey sanctions
  4. Drums of war again, in Europe
  5. EU looks on as Belarus protests turn lethal
  6. EU virus-alert agency says new restrictions needed
  7. Minsk violence prompts talk of EU sanctions
  8. Schrems privacy ruling risks EU's ties to digital world

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us