Thursday

13th Aug 2020

Socialists accused of expenses scam

The socialists in the European Parliament are in turmoil after one of their own members made serious allegations that some members of the group are involved in a expenses scam.

Austrian MEP, Hans-Peter Martin, has alleged that some of his colleagues have claimed expenses for meetings that they have not attended. He has subsequently been kicked out of the group.

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Last Thursday (5 February) Mr Martin removed an attendance register for a meeting which he says proves that some MEPs still claim their daily allowance - to which they are entitled for Parliament attendance in Brussels and Strasbourg - in spite of not participating in the meeting.

"The fact is that MEPs last Thursday morning wanted to sign themselves on to an attendance list for a session that was cancelled. With one signing in they have an automatic right to a daily allowance of 262 euro - even when the session does not take place", said Mr Martin in a statement.

Defiant

He continued: "But I drew attention to this. Despite this many social democrat MEPs put their names down".

For their part, his colleagues complain about his tactics for gathering information.

Socialists spokesman Peter Reichert said that Mr Martin, who is a former journalist for Der Spiegel, got "relatively aggressive".

German Socialist MEP Rosemarie Müller alleges she was attacked by him last Thursday - something which Mr Martin strongly denies.

An internal note sent round by Ms Müller to her colleagues, seen by the EUobserver, says she thought an apology would not go far enough.

"We should not allow that he [Hans-Peter Martin] slanders us in public and presents himself as "clean man" of the European Parliament while at the same time he uses his assistant to watch out and gathers "information" about us", says the note.

On Wednesday evening (11 February), the Socialists in the Parliament, condemning the "inquisitorial and policing methods" used by Mr Martin, decided to kick him out of the group when he refused to apologise for his actions.

Leader of the socialists, Enrique Baron Crespo, ordered him from the room.

Mr Martin himself remains defiant. "I am not going to continue to let myself be silenced and remain obliged to our voters to whom transparency has been promised."

He has reportedly received hundreds of emails from Austrians asking him to stand as an independent in the European elections in June.

Back on the Parliament agenda

However, he continues to be vilified by many in the group for his behaviour. Various socialists contacted by this news-site accused Mr Martin of "sneaking around corridors".

Mr Martin's tactics aside, an opaque expenses system, which allows MEPs to make huge amounts of money on the side, does exist.

And reform of the system, which has been debated for years, has found itself back on the Parliament's agenda after it looked like it had disappeared

Following a discussion today, Parliament President Pat Cox decided to call a high-level meeting of just group leaders and some advisors on 25/26 February to see if the expenses issues can be resolved.

But the Socialists, as well as the biggest group in the Parliament, the European People's Party, are still against reform - said an insider.

Spokesperson for the Parliament David Harley said experts are now looking into "transparent legal means for an appropriate compensation mechanism".

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