Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Damning report hits out at EP expenditure

  • Parliament has been hit by a list of spending scandals in the past (Photo: European Parliament)

A damning report by a member of the European Parliament's own budgetary control committee is set to question the very fundamentals of the institution's budgetary discharge procedure, with its author coming under considerable pressure from the institutions's bureau as a result.

Still in the process of being finalised, the report's rapporteur - Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes - told EUobserver the document ultimately asks one simple question: Is it correct that parliament should sign off on its own accounts?

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.

While the council of ministers, representing member states, also has to approve parliament's expenditure, a gentleman's agreement means scrutiny is kept to a bare minimum.

The upcoming document, set to form the basis for committee debate on parliament's 2008 expenditure over the coming weeks, will direct strong criticism towards the legislature's procurement procedure and raises concerns over recent calls to increase money for MEP assistants before a proper review is carried out.

The 31-pager will also raise the alarm over the substantial increase in the number of "negotiated procedures" rather than open tender contracts awarded by parliament throughout 2008, criticising the administration's suggestion prior to the report's drafting that their number is simply "difficult to reduce further."

As well as this, sources point to the roughly €7 million spent on studies by parliament each year, suggesting there is a huge level of overlap with studies coming out of other institutions such as the European Commission.

Taxpayers' money

The report is likely to be peppered with references to the need to show taxpayers their money is being spent correctly, in order to strengthen public confidence in the institution. Assurances that parliament's 2008 budget of €1.4 billion was spent correctly should stem from rigorous auditing "systems," rather than trust alone, it will say.

Parliament's internal functioning is largely directed by the institution's secretary general and members of the bureau - a coterie of big-wigs made up of the parliament's president, 14 vice-presidents and five quaestors.

In the past, the bureau has taken a number of decisions with enormous financial consequences, over and above the position of the parliament's MEPs sitting in plenary.

Deputies, for example are keen to stop parliament picking up the tab when there is a shortfall in the private pension fund used by numerous MEPs, but the bureau has overruled them in previous years.

Parliament's pension fund recorded a staggering €121 million deficit at the end of 2008, with a further €277 million still to be paid to members.

This, the report will say, is a clear example of the risks involved with the parliament's current multi-layered governance structure, with the potential to cause serious damage to the institution's reputation.

To tackle this multitude of problems, the report will call for increased scrutiny and transparency regarding parliament's finances, with far greater accountability to the wider public so that the list of scandals that has racked the institution in recent years can be avoided in future.

Last year saw one of the worst cases of misspent money come to the public's attention, with former UK MEP Tom Wise sentenced to two years in prison after he admitted to expenses fraud.

EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans

EU capitals voice support for more summits, tackling divisive issues and sometimes deciding by majority - not consensus - as outlined in the European Council president's plan.

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.

Eurogroup closes Schaeuble era

Eurozone finance ministers bade farewell to their longest-serving and most influential colleague, while preparing to also replace its chairman at the end of the year.

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.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe