Sunday

25th Feb 2018

Martin Schulz chartered six private flights as EP president

  • Schulz in 2014 while campaigning to become EU commission president (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

Martin Schulz took six private charter flights over a three-year period while he was president of the European Parliament.

Media reports over the weekend suggested he had made "regular use of a private jet". Those flights, according to the UK's Sunday Times, were chartered at €20,000 an hour.

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But records seen by EUobserver suggests that his use of private jets was not frequent.

He took two private flights each in 2014, 2015, and 2016 to Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, and Strasbourg. Those flights were taken from Berlin, Strasbourg, Brussels and Madrid, according to the European Parliament.

An EU parliament spokesperson said in an email on Monday (13 February) that "a couple flights" had also been made with EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

In 2014, however, Schulz had taken some 20 commercial flights at the taxpayers' expense at costs varying from €184 to Paris and up to €2,300 to Jordan. The Jordan flight included five members of his staff, according to another document seen by this website.

The bulk of those trips took place shortly after Schulz had officially accepted the Party of European Socialists (PES) nomination to run for European Commission president on 1 March, 2014. The European elections were held on 22-25 May 2014.

He took seven flights in March followed by five in April alone. The March-April flights all went to capital cities around the EU.

Those flights appear to have been used for official EU parliament duties given his scheduled meetings with dignitaries, prime ministers and journalists.

What is less clear is the number of private flights chartered before 2014.

"Flights before are extremely difficult to get data for, because the then travel agency at the EP [European Parliament] did the invoicing manually mostly. So all paper documents would need to be gone through in the archives," an EU parliament spokesperson said in an email on Monday (13 February).

Parliament also asks for a market quotation each time the president needs a private charter flight because of agenda constraints, noted the spokesperson.

Schulz, a centre-left politician, became president of the European Parliament in 2012 and left in January this year to pursue politics in Germany.

The Christian Democrats are struggling to contain Schulz's popularity surge in Germany as he faces down Angela Merkel for the chancellery post. Polls earlier this month show his popularity was at 50 percent compared with Merkel's 37 percent.

But Schulz has already been the subject of another leak this week.

Herbert Reul, the head of the German conservative delegation in the Parliament, leaked a nine-page document that reportedly accuses Schulz of merging his duties as parliament president with his bid to become EU commission president in 2014 in the so-called "Spitzenkandidat" process.

Controversies

Similar accusations surfaced when a European Parliament discharge report noted Schulz's political activities as parliament president blurred in with his Spitzenkandidat to head the party of European socialists (PES) in the 2014 European elections.

Schulz had already run into controversy at the time when he was accused of using the parliament president Twitter handle as a campaign tool for the commission seat. He was also accused of using parliament staff to help prepare the campaign.

His spokesperson at the time Armin Machmir told this website that Schulz had voluntarily forfeited his daily parliament allowance during the 2014 election campaign and that he had provided a detailed list of his "travels and activities in full transparency, clearly differentiating Parliament activities from campaign activities".

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