Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

Investigation

Barroso tops commission travel expenses in 2012

EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso's travel expenses in 2012 were almost three times as high as those of foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The EU commissioners' expenses for 2012 and 2013 were released by the EU commission following a freedom of information request filed by EUobserver. The correspondence and figures can be found here.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

According to the figures released by the secretary general of the EU commission, Catherine Day, Barroso's travel expenses in 2012 amounted to €649,336.72, more than double the expenses he filed in 2013.

He was followed by Ashton, with €280,962.69 and development commissioner Andris Piebalgs, with €202,406.94.

In 2013, Ashton ranked first, with €468.728,77, followed by Barroso (€262.058,89) and Piebalgs (€235.343,42).

Another jet-setter, with expenses above €100,000 a year, was economics commissioner Olli Rehn, who in 2012 and 2013 was still battling with the eurocrisis and travelling to capitals to secure bailout payments for the troubled southern economies.

Italy's industry commissioner Antonio Tajani also travelled for more than €100,000 a year, as did the commissioners for energy, trade, humanitarian aid, neighbourhood and enlargement, regional policy and climate change.

At the other end of the scale is transport commissioner Siim Kallas, who only spent €40,364.01 in 2012 and Croatia's Neven Mimica, who joined the commission only in July 2013 and spent 27.695,89 on travels that year.

In total, EU commissioners spent €3.4 million on travelling in 2012 and €3.3 million the following year.

Day refused to release a more detailed account of the expenses citing privacy concerns and a "disproportionate administrative burden" for the commission to process and blacken out the personal details in over 1000 mission cost documents per year.

A Barroso spokesman said that 2012 was a "particularly intense year regarding international commitments of the president".

He cited G8 and Nato summits in the US which were done in one go to save costs, a G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico coupled with an EU-Mexico summit, a climate summit in Rio de Janeiro, the UN general assembly in New York, as well as other summits in Asia and Russia.

Even though the EU is represented by both Barroso and EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy at all international summits abroad, the spokesman said Barroso travels on his own, on commercial airlines.

Van Rompuy, as a former Belgian prime minister, can still use the Belgian airforce plane available for state dignitaries. But the spokesman said he was not aware of them travelling together on any of these big international trips.

Apart from international meetings, Barroso also went to other destinations in 2012.

Early July 2012, he went to Israel and Palestine, despite Ashton - the foreign policy chief - going there twice that year. Later in July, he joined Piebalgs on a trip to Tanzania in July, in order to "strengthen political dialogue and launch major poverty reduction programmes".

Long weekends in Portugal - Barroso's home country - are also listed in the EU commission's weekly agendas for 2012.

On Friday, 17 February 2012, for instance, Barroso delivered a speech at the Catholic University of Lisbon. He returned to his home city one month later, on 23 March, also on a Friday. On Monday, 1 October 2012, the calendar again notes that Barroso is in Lisbon, attending the launch of "Social Innovation prize Diogo Vasconcelos".

For her part, Ashton went on 31 missions in 2012 and on 35 the following year.

"Obviously these missions vary in terms of length and destinations and therefore costs. What is common to them is aiming to keep the costs as low as possible," her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancik told this website.

EUobserver understands that unlike Barroso, Ashton sometimes travels on Van Rompuy's plane, when it can be arranged.

Money for guests

EUobserver also asked for the 'representation' costs of all EU commissioners in 2012 and 2013, meaning the costs related to guests invited to the commissioners' offices or to the college of commissioners as a whole.

The college of commissioners has the highest figure, mostly for luncheons with other governments which come to visit the EU commission: €139,790.49 in 2012 and €98,837.21 the following year.

Individually, Barroso again comes first for meetings, often hosting several in one day. On 24 January 2012, he received Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban and Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament. Such meetings accounted for €70,647.96 in 2012, almost double as much as in 2013 (€39,933.25).

The second-highest spender when it comes to 'representation costs' last year was Italian commissioner Tajani, who is listed with €20,552.18.

For 2012, German energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger comes in second with €23,742.25, followed by Estonian transport commissioner Kallas (€23,027.22) and Tajani (€22,295.57) who are all ahead of Ashton (€21,021.96). In 2013, Ashton spent even less - just €6,446.61 - on representation costs.

A low spender is Malta's Tonio Borg, who replaced John Dalli as health commissioner in November 2012, and only claimed €11.60 for that year and €2,939.89 in 2013. Cypriot education minister Androulla Vassiliou also ran up few such costs, accounting for €1,547.33 in 2012 and €1,854.60 the following year.

Investigation

Donbass: a region nobody wants?

The Donbass region in east Ukraine is on the road to becoming a de jure Ukrainian province, but a de facto Russian-backed mafia state.

Investigation

Dutch bank faces questions on Romania land-grab

Dutch banking giant Rabobank is facing questions over investments in Romania, amid concerns that its subsidiaries are "land grabbing" in some of the EU's poorest and most corrupt regions.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAThe Future of Audit Means Adaption to Today’s Global and Digital World
  2. Swedish EnterprisesNew Rules for EU Anti-dumping Measures
  3. European Jewish CongressTakes Part in Building Resilient Communities
  4. UNICEFUniversal Children’s Day: UNICEF Calls for Global Action on Child Rights Violations
  5. Counter BalanceThe EU Bank Cannot be a Key Player in Europe's Response to the Plight of Refugees
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsProvides Evidence of Human Rights Violations and International Crimes in Crimea
  7. Dialogue PlatformThe Failed Military Coup in Turkey & The Mass Purges
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Climate Solutions at COP22 in Marrakech
  9. Counter BalanceNGOs Call on Development Finance Institutions to Act Against Tax Avoidance
  10. European Free AllianceTrump Victory and Brexit Show Urgent Need of Improving Democracy
  11. Martens CentreOur Transatlantic 9-11: Europe After Trump
  12. Dialogue PlatformTimmermans Points to Gülen Movement as Coup Plotter But Lacks Proof