Saturday

21st Sep 2019

Letter

Letter from the EESC on per diem article

In reply to the article The great EESC 'per diem' charade, published on 21 August on EUobserver, I wish to underline that, as stated in our answer to questions asked by your journalist Nikolaj Nielsen, the system of «per diem» or allowances and their amount is decided on by the Council of the EU (Council decision no. 2013/471/EU), irrespective of EESC members' nationality and place of residence.

Such a system is not unique to the EESC (for instance, the European Parliament pays a flat-rate allowance of €320 to MEPs present in Brussels or Strasbourg on official business) but is in use among national, international and European institutions and bodies.

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Indeed, most of them provide some form of attendance fee to their members for participating in their meetings and other activities, where they bring their wealth of expertise and first-hand knowledge of the issues discussed.

These attendance fees are in addition to and regardless of their salaries or other revenues.

The rules laid down by the Council are not based on geographical principles, but take into account the time devoted by EESC members to the performance of their legislative and institutional duties.

It is indisputable that the more active and involved a member is (such as presidents and vice-presidents), the more allowances he/she will receive.

Moreover, EESC members are not politicians; they are strongly rooted in the European socio-economic fabric and provide valuable expertise in discussions on EU legislative proposals, with the legitimacy that comes from being active representatives of civil society organisations.

Once again, it needs to be stressed that EESC members receive daily allowances for the time allocated to take part in the activities of the EESC.

These activities take a variety of forms. Besides attending regular meetings and drafting opinions, their work involves participating in events where they can liaise with members of civil society and other institutions and discuss the issues they are working on.

Let us underline that, unlike the members of other institutions, EESC members receive no financial compensation other than the daily allowances for the work they perform for contributing to the EU legislative process .

70 % of EESC opinions result from requests from the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the European Commission wishing to hear the EESC's position and expert advice on the issues they legislate on.

Thus, the EESC has a pivotal democratic function in the EU. In addition, the EESC has pioneered original proposals in fields such as the financial transaction tax, social economy and social entrepreneurship, roaming, food waste, programmed obsolescence, industrial transformation and artificial intelligence, circular economy, energy poverty, etc.

Finally, without the EESC we would not have a Community charter of Fundamental Social Rights of workers.

Author bio

Ewa Haczyk is Head of Press of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril

Matteo Salvini's recent gambit may have failed, but, in his own words: "From today you will find me even more pissed off and determined. I will go from town to town and we will take this country back."

Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration

Brussels' current vision for cooperation on defence, where third countries can contribute but have no say in decision-making and in the guidance of operations, is unlikely to be attractive to the UK.

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

A new Commission for the one percent

We are only baffled by how nakedly Ursula von der Leyen's commission represents the very crisis affecting the EU. These commission nominees can expect their toughest questioning yet, they must be held accountable to those they should be representing.

How EU trains discriminate against the disabled

EU law requires us to give two days' notice to get the assistance we need, even for our daily commutes. We can't travel like everyone else. It is frustrating, annoying and time-consuming. In short, it is unacceptable.

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