Saturday

20th Apr 2019

EU defends Commissioners' travel costs

The European Commission has defended its use of air taxis for international meetings despite costs of tens of thousands of euros.

The revelations came after Spanish NGO Access Info and Belgian magazine Knack published details of commissioners’ travel costs for January and February last year, which they had obtained via freedom of information requests.

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

These showed that commission head Jean-Claude Juncker had spent €25,000 on a plane to Rome, that foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini paid €75,000 on a journey to Baku and Yerevan and that Christos Stylianides, the humanitarian aid commissioner, paid €11,000 for a voyage to Somalia and Turkey, among other destinations.

The NGO is still awaiting information for expenses costs for the rest of the year.

Mina Andreeva, a commission spokeswoman, said in Brussels on Wednesday (9 August) that the Juncker trip involved eight other people and that the cost per person was about €2,900.

She said the commissioners ought to travel widely because they were the EU’s “best ambassadors” and needed to “explain our policy” to EU citizens and further afield.

She noted that they took standard flights when these were available, but that they sometimes had to charter planes when no normal flights matched their agenda, or for “security reasons”.

Andreeva added that Juncker seldom travels outside of Brussels, with an average of just over two trips per month, including his monthly attendance at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

She also defended the commission’s decision not to automatically post expenses information online, but to await formal public or press requests, saying the work needed to collate information and to explain it to the public would be too great a burden otherwise.

Andreeva said the Access Info campaign generated 196 requests that were processed in less than six months, but Knack reported its campaign for information on the issue began three years ago.

“We are actually one of the most transparent administrations in the world,” she said.

The 28 EU commissioners spent about €500,000 in total on travel in January and February last year - on hotels and flights.

The commission vice-president, Frans Timmermans, was among the lowest spenders with €6,861.

MEP barred from questioning Oettinger on plane trip

The Hungarian Green MEP who uncovered EU Commissioner Oettinger's flight to Budapest on a private plane of a lobbyist was not allowed to ask the German politician on the issue in the EP.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us