Monday

21st Jun 2021

MEPs award themselves €1,500 more in staff expenses

  • Parliament's plenary chamber (Photo: EUobserver)

As European citizens come to terms with the array of austerity measures being doled out across the union at the insistence of EU and international lenders, MEPs have agreed to increase the money they use for expenses.

Voting in Strasbourg on Wednesday (19 May), the euro deputies argued the extra money was needed to help them cope with the additional work created under the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new rulebook which came into force on 1 December 2009.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In approving the report by Slovakian Social Democrat MEP Vladimir Manka to top up the parliament's 2010 budget with an additional €9.4 million, the plenary said it was determined to meet its additional co-decision responsibilities and greater legislative workload.

The money can only be used to increase staff salaries, or take on new employees. Staff budgets for each MEP are currently €17,540 per month, prior to any increase.

Some deputies conceded that members of the public may query the move. "This is a difficult time to ask people outside the parliament to accept us voting for an increase, but there are extra duties associated with the Lisbon Treaty," said Irish centre-right MEP Mairéad McGuinness.

Only a day before, a number of EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels baulked at the European Commission's request to see its 2011 budget increased by six percent.

The UK's Conservative minister George Osborne said the rise was clearly "unacceptable".

In a contradictory move however, the finance ministers adopted the parliament's 2010 amending budget, allowing the expenses increase without debate.

The parliament initially rejected the council of minister's 2008 budget discharge earlier this year, but may now be more inclined to give their approval when they vote in June.

Traveling circus

The gaggle of MEPs gathered in Strasbourg on Wednesday also rejected a motion to squeeze September's two plenary sessions into one week, a move that supporters say would have greatly reduced the body's travel costs.

The plan was put forward by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which said it could save parliament some €17 million a year.

Under EU treaties, MEPs are required to attend 12 sessions per year in Strasbourg. As a result, more than 700 MEPs, plus about 3,000 aides and piles of documents, have to travel the 450 km from Brussels to Strasbourg each month, in order to attend the week-long plenary sessions.

The arrangement, strongly defended by France, costs around €200 million per year to the taxpayer and is estimated to release 20,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

With no plenary session in August due to the summer recess, MEP Ashley Fox, of the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists group, had argued that the two sessions in September could easily be moved into one week, with a single day of committee work in between them.

"Strasbourg is given a bad name by the costs, environmental damage and inconvenience to the thousands of people who are forced to make the journey," he said before the vote on the motion that was ultimately rejected. "Rather than being a symbol of unity as originally intended, Strasbourg has become associated with profligacy."

MEPs back cost-cutting on EU staff

MEPs have backed changes to working conditions for EU officials designed to save over €1 billion a year and to improve ethical standards.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

Future of Europe: Nearly half of citizens want reforms

European Parliament president David Sassoli called for the Conference on the Future of Europe "to start as soon as possible". Meanwhile, nearly half of EU citizens would like to see reforms to the bloc.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Too soon to lift EU sanctions on Burundi, NGOs warn
  2. EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator
  3. EU commission takes stand against Danish asylum law
  4. Air pollution in many EU cities 'stubbornly high'
  5. EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK
  6. Pandemic exposed corruption in some EU health systems
  7. The European Court of Justice vs German Constitutional Court
  8. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us