For some MEPs, their pockets are never well enough lined

19 February 2017

For some MEPs, their pockets are never well enough lined

This week the public broadcaster NOS has been giving a great deal of attention to the fact that there is a significant shortfall in the voluntary pension provision for people who were Euro-MPs in the period prior to 2009. I have received a number of reactions from people angry that these gilt-edged pensions should be being paid at all. I completely agree with these people, certainly when you consider that pension payments in the Netherlands have been frozen for years. In my report on the European Parliament’s accounts I am demanding therefore that a plan be developed, and quickly, which will allow the ex-MEPs themselves to make up the shortfall. Enough is enough.

In 2009 the rules were changed and there is now no longer a voluntary supplementary pension for MEPs. Up to then, however, Euro-MPs took good care of themselves. If during your mandate you paid in €1,250 per month, and you served two five-year terms, when you reached pensionable age you were assured a monthly return of some €3,000. A pretty good investment, especially when you recall that up to 2009, when it was raised to 63, the pensionable age was 60.

Not all MEPs from those days participated, but altogether nine hundred did. You might expect that after the financial crisis and with growing criticism of the Brussels bubble, these ex-politicians would get rid of such a gilt-edged pension provision. The vast majority, however, have not had the decency to give it up.

This is even worse than you might think: according to the fund’s own calculations, there is a shortfall of €276 million in relation to what is needed to pay out all of the pension entitlements, and the way that the regulation is designed means that the European Parliament itself is responsible for bridging the gap. In answer to my questions to the EP administration I was initially told that there were no longer any problems and that they had all been created in a single five-year period. This is nothing but the purest head-in-the-sand policy.

This year I am rapporteur on the Parliament’s accounts. In my report I demand that the Secretary-General investigates how we could fill the pension gap without resorting to taxpayers’ money. It doesn’t matter to me how this is achieved, but in this time of ever-increasing pensionable ages and frozen pensions for most retired people I consider it completely irresponsible that despite enjoying fantastic salaries, not to mention the ridiculous bonuses, MEPs can still receive a gilt-edged pension at the taxpayers’ expense. Time for rapid action.

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