Saturday

18th Nov 2017

Reform of MEPs' perks unlikely before election

Euro-parliamentarians have approved a report limiting their pay but retaining control of perks. The deal is being seen by some as a fudge.

The controversial proposal for a new statute for members of the European Parliament was passed in the legal affairs committee on Tuesday.

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The report, drafted by German Social Democrat MEP Willi Rothley, proposes a fixed salary for all MEPs of 50% of the basic salary of a judge at the European Court of Justice, around 8,000 euro per month.

One of those opposed to the report, Finnish MEP and a member of the Christian Democrat EPP group, Piia-Noora Kauppi expressed deep disappointment over the vote.

"In reality it means we will get no reform, because we know the Council will never accept this report," she told the EUobserver. The council is demanding more transparency round the perks to which MEPs are entitled and not just a new salary proposal.

Ms Kauppi also criticised the Rothley proposal to allow MEPs, who are re-elected next year to be able to continue with the old lucrative perk system.

Under the approved plan only new MEPs would be forced to follow the new, stricter rules, she told the EUobserver.

Demanding reform ahead of EU elections and enlargement

Since the first direct elections of the European Parliament, no uniform statute for Members has been agreed.

As it stands, different MEPs receive different salaries because they are paid the same basic salary as a national parliamentarian from their own country.

Presently, the highest salary is enjoyed by Italian MEPs, who were paid 11,779 euro per month in September 2002. The lowest-paid MEPs are the Spanish, who received 2,540 euro in September 2002.

Ms Kauppi and many other MEPs want to strike a deal with the Council and reform the system before the next European Parliament elections in 2004. If not, they fear that voters could focus on MEPs' lucrative perks and salaries during the election campaigns.

The Parliament is also under pressure to find agreement before enlargement of the European Union. A Czech politician elected as a member of the European Parliament in the June 2004 elections would only be paid a salary of 400 euro per month, the same as MPs in the Prague parliament according to the existing rules.

Council wants deal on perks

The new rules must be decided by a majority in the European Parliament and approved by the Council with a qualified majority.

The Council is demanding a fixed deal with the Parliament on perks before agreeing to a new statute - and this is proving to be the main sticking point, sources told EUobserver.

Mr Rothley's report does not offer a solution to the problem, as it insists on the right of the European Parliament to decide autonomously on the reimbursement of costs and other benefits, such as travel costs, subsistence allowances, secretarial allowance and social benefits for MEPs.

These perks add substantially to MEPs' salaries.

The Rothley report will now be passed on for a final vote in the plenary session in the European Parliament in Strasbourg in April.

Remuneration of members of national parliaments in the European Union

(Amounts - per month - updated in September 2002)

Austria - 14 months - 7,500 euro

Belgium - 12 months - 5,544 euro

Denmark - 12 months - 5,570 euro

Finland - 12 months - 4,541 euro

France - 12 months - 5,169 euro

Germany - 12 months - 6,878 euro

Greece - 14 months - 4,800 euro

Ireland - 12 months - 5,984 euro

Italy - 12 months -11,779 euro

Luxembourg- 12 months - 4,637 euro

Netherlands - 12 months - 6,467 euro

Portugal - 14 months - 3,448 euro

Spain - 14 months - 2,540 euro

Sweden - 12 months - 4,800 euro

United Kingdom - 12 months - 7,216 euro

Comparative table, submitted by Mr Willi Rothley, rapporteur on the Statute for Members. The allowances are subject to the different member state taxes.

Papandreou tied up with MEPs' perks on eve of war

On the eve of the first assault on Iraq, Greek Foreign Minister and the Head of the EU Council, George Papandreou spent two hours with the Presidents of the political groups in the European Parliament trying to break a deadlock on drafting a new common statute for MEPs.

MEP perks on foreign ministers' agenda

Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow will take time out from discussing controversial international issues to discussing controversial issues closer to home: MEPs' pay and funding of pan-European political parties.

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