De Jong: tighter monitoring of European Parliament spending could save millions

22 January 2013

De Jong: tighter monitoring of European Parliament spending could save millions

The European Parliament this morning debated its 2011 expenditure accounts. Commenting on the debate, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: ‘In addition to a more than ample salary and reimbursement of expenses, every Euro-MP receives €4,300 per month for general expenditure. No receipts are required to be handed over for this, which makes the system exceptionally vulnerable to fraud. I’ve proposed that this should be monitored, because I suspect that MEPs are unjustly receiving €20 million as a result of this sloppiness.’

The suggestion that controls be tightened up can expect a prickly reception from other MEPs. ‘This reinforces my suspicions that many Euro-MPs aren’t keen to see accountability because they view reimbursement of expenditure as a surreptitious bonus to their salaries.’ The proposal put forward by the SP during the debate on the issue, to begin by monitoring the expendture of Members who spend more than 50% of the maximum refundable will now be placed on the agenda of the Presidium, the body whose responsibilities include taking decisions on the European Parliament’s internal rules.

The European Parliament spends an annual €1.7 billion on the work of its Members and supporting services. At €300 million, the travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg represents one of the biggest budget lines, and one which the great majority of MEPs want to see the back of. Duting the debate, De Jong asked the EP’s top official Klaus Welle to state the total travel expenses incurred by Members. ‘Welle acceded to my demand that airmiles and similar points schemes for rail should not be used for private travel. The EP ought to assemble these collectively and use them to reduce the enormous travel budget. By scrapping in addition the so-called ‘distance reimbursement’, which amounts to a double refund, the European Parliament could save millions on the total travel budget.’

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