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1st Dec 2020

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Greek Nazi MEP upset he won't get EU parliament stipend

  • Golden Dawn leader and MEP Ioannis Lagos: upset about not pocketing his daily allowances due to coronavirus (Photo: Wikipedia)

A Greek neo-Nazi MEP recently sentenced to 13 years in jail is upset he will not be getting his daily European Parliament allowance of €323.

"It is unfair for us to have be [sic] deprived of the perdiems [sic] we are entitled to," said Ioannis Lagos, an independent Greek MEP previously representing the Golden Dawn party - a neo-Nazi outfit deemed in October as a "criminal gang" by a Greek court.

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  • Golden Dawn rally in Athens in 2015. Last month a court found the "party" to be a criminal gang (Photo: Wikipedia)

His comments were sent as an email, obtained by EUobserver, on Thursday (29 October) to the European Parliament administrative leadership, known as the Bureau.

His complaint followed moves by the parliament to suspend the daily attendance allowance for most MEPs, given the dangers posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Such stipends are only dispersed if an MEP physically shows up at the European Parliament building in Brussels or in Strasbourg.

But the Bureau decided, in a note sent to all MEPs, to temporarily close the central register of attendance for the month of November.

The decision was made to minimise the risk of infections among people working at the parliament in light of the current explosive surge of Covid cases in Brussels.

As of writing, Belgium has the highest infection rate per capita of all EU states.

But Lagos says the stipend should still be paid, proposing an e-signature system as an alternative or by placing "a central register in a Covid-19-free place."

The 48-year old MEP was convicted by a Greek court in early October for being a leading member of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, which was designated a criminal organisation.

He was sentenced to 13 years along with a handful of other Golden Dawn members, including its ranking leader Nikos Michaloliakos, who praises Nazi-era Germany.

The €4,500 monthly stipend

Aside from the €323 flat-rate daily allowance, MEPs are also entitled to €4,563 each month to cover so-called general expenses like office supplies.

This comes on top of their public salaries and in many cases their second or even third jobs in the private sector.

The full monthly sum is paid if they show up to parliament sessions at least 50 percent of the time.

But if their attendance rates drop below that mark, then they have to reimburse half of it.

However, the Bureau in September decided the sessions impacted by the pandemic between March and August should not be counted.

It means MEPs still get the full €4,563 every month even if they did not show up to work.

MEP attendance records are found in the minutes of plenary sessions. The names of the absentees are not collated.

Asked if it could provide data on how many MEPs have been absent at least 50 percent of the time this year, the European Parliament was unable to respond.

"We inform you that since most of the sessions in 2020 were held as remote (so-called 'hybrid sessions'), this question cannot be replied in absolute terms," it said, in a freedom of information request.

It did however note that one unnamed MEP from sessions spanning 2019 to early 2020 has to return at least half of the monthly payouts.

"The reimbursement procedure is currently ongoing," it noted.

For his part, Lagos has been absent from the sessions around a dozen days so far this year, according to attendance records.

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