Time for a coalition against Brussels’ inflated salaries

25 July 2012

Time for a coalition against Brussels’ inflated salaries

It’s been going on for years, but yesterday’s programme on Flemish television, ‘Terzake’, brought it all into sharp focus. Salaries in the European Union institutions are way too high. Every year I put amendments to the budget, trying to put an end to these inflated salaries and exaggerated expenses in the European Parliament and other EU bodies. Time after time these proposals are rejected. But in these times of crisis, when everyone is being forced to cut spending, people simply will no longer accept it if the Eurocrats continue to feather their own nests. Time for a broad coalition capable, when we vote on the budget for 2013 this autumn, of getting down to brass tacks.

By Dennis de Jong, MEP for the SP • No ordinary person can comprehend it: a salary of €18,000 p.m. for a top official, and MEPs who take home a cool €13,000 per month. It’s truly inexplicable that in Brussels there is not the least willingness to adjust the level of ‘reimbursement’ of expenses. Even my proposal to at least require receipts for the more than €4,000 p.m. tax free ‘office costs’ allowance which MEPs receive was thrown out. Evidently many of my colleagues see advantages to keeping all of this secret, and continuing to trouser the difference between their actual costs and the level of the allowance.

Personally I stick to the SP norm for MPs, which is a monthly salary limited to €2,500, and give the rest to various good causes. I also repay some €30,000 to the European Parliament, this being the sum left over after subtracting the real costs of maintaining an office from the so-called ‘reimbursement’. In the three years since I was elected, I have been pleased to learn that a number of MEPs from other political groups are also heartily sick of this pocket-lining. Immediately after the summer recess I will be sitting down with them and working out common proposals for the budget and for the EU officials’ statute that is about to be in one way or another revised. Such cross-party coalitions are often successful. In this case, however, I am anticipating a great deal of resistance from Euro-MPs who consider their own incomes of more importance than any effect they may have on popular sentiment regarding the EU. That’s why I think that it will be necessary to separate the sheep from the goats by calling for a ‘roll-call vote’ when it comes to the voting, so that everyone can clearly see who has voted yea and who nay. The voters will then know, at the next European parliamentary elections in 2014, who amongst the incumbents is in the EP principally for their own benefit and comfort, and which of us indeed is honest.

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