Friday

16th Nov 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us