Wednesday

23rd May 2018

MEPs retain secrecy on office spending

  • €4,342 per month meant to cover the cost of office(s), computers, telephones, and related expenses (Photo: European Parliament)

Members of the European Parliament on Thursday (27 April) once again refused to become more transparent about the monthly allowances they receive to cover office costs.

At the annual self-audit, 423 of 751 MEPs voted against mandatory publication of the way they spend the €4,342 per month they receive to cover the cost of office(s), computers, telephones, and other office-related expenses.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Some 166 MEPs supported an amendment that said the parliament “believes it should be obligatory for members to make public their expenditures”, another 49 abstained.

The issue of transparency about the monthly office allowances has, for several years, become a returning feature in the debate about the annual discharge of the European Parliament's budget.

Under current rules, MEPs receive the taxpayer-funded €52,000 per year as a monthly lump sum, without having to publish any receipts or justification of how the money is spent.

Opposition to obligatory publication of how MEPs spend the allowances came from the centre-right European People's Party - except for a lone dissident, Belgian Tom Vandenkendelaere, who supported the amendment.

The left-wing Greens also opposed it in a surprise development.

The Greens have previously stated they are in favour of more transparency, but except for Luxembourgian MEP Claude Turmes and Spanish MEP Ernest Urtasun, they rejected the amendment.

Most other groups were split.

Most members of the Socialist and the Liberal groups voted against, although a sizeable portion supported the idea.

The mildly eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformist group was split by national lines: its Polish members voted in favour, while the British Conservative MEPs voted against mandatory openness.

Spokesman Robert Taylor told EUobserver that the Conservatives already voluntarily publish breakdowns of how the money is spent, and that while they "encourage all delegations" to follow their "best practice", it should still be up to them to decide "levels of transparency".

The far left GUE/NGL group voted mostly in favour - its members Dennis de Jong and Rina Ronja Kari had tabled the amendment.

Danish EPP member Bendt Bendtsen defended his vote and asked for the parliament to “find better ways of increased transparency” in a written statement.

Greens spokeswoman Ruth Reichstein said that they voted against because they had their own amendments on the subject. She said the group was not in favour of publishing receipts, but wanted them to be kept so that so they can be audited, as well as for publishing an annual summary.

Dietmar Holzfeind, a spokesman for the far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom said that, in his group, “each national delegation decides individually on those questions and issues”.

The monthly sum has been an easy target for anti-EU forces, and the top brass of the parliament has acknowledged that in its meetings.

Minutes of the so-called bureau of the European Parliament, showed that at the end of 2016 a €22 raise in the monthly office allowances was discussed.

At the meeting, far left Greek MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis rejected the raise “so as not to provide ammunition to all sorts of populists”.

Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek also criticised the “long period of inactivity” by the bureau, which has been asked by MEPs to help increase transparency.

The European Parliament as an institution is also facing a court case by a group of journalists that demand the expenditures to be made public.

Investigation

Citizens pay for MEPs' ghost offices

Each member of the European Parliament gets €4,342 every month, mainly to fund an office in their own country. But many of these offices seem nowhere to be found.

Court battles intensifies on MEPs' 'private' expenses

The EU parliament said the public does not have a right to monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

Opinion

Europe's budget stasis

The EU's budgetary muddling through might not be enough when the next crisis hits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  2. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  3. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  4. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  5. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption
  6. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  7. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  8. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight