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Euro-MPs carry on lining their pockets

3 July 2018

Euro-MPs carry on lining their pockets

Against all expectations the Bureau of the European Parliament, the body which governs internal affairs, has thrown out the – already modest – proposals for more openness around the spending of office expenses. Commenting on the decision, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said “Every month each MEP receives more than €4,400 tax-free for 'office expenses'. This isn't supposed to be additional income, but serves for the purchase of such things as laptops, printers and the like. The least that you should be able to expect is that they would be obliged to have their books checked by an external accountant. Yet for a majority in the Bureau, taking their lead from the centre-right and some of the centre-left, this went too far. In my view, these people are simply lining their pockets.  And it's precisely these groups which go on and on about the Parliament's image and who are trying, via expensive information campaigns, to persuade voters to come to the polling booths for next year's European Parliament elections. Their greedy behaviour means, however, that they are losing all credibility.”

The Bureau of the European Parliament, consisting of the EP president, vie-presidents and quaestors (who represent the interests of the MEPs in financial matters), voted on proposals from a working group. “The vote concerned only a few proposals,” explained De Jong. “The maintaining of a separate bank account for office expenses, annual checks by an external accountant, and the return of unspent moneys. These proposals were already minimal. I had proposed other measures, including the construction of an exhaustive list of the kinds of expenditure for which the office expenses can be used, and publication on the European Parliament website of each MEP's spending. Yet even the minimal proposals remining have been binned.”

De Jong vows not to let the subject lie. “Officially the Bureau's vote is deinitive,” he admits, but goes on to say that “it is, however, directly at odds with motions passed by the entire Parliament. That's why I believe that the decision of the Bureau should also be discussed by the leaders of the political groups in their Conference of Presidents. Moreover, in the autumn the issue will definitely reappear during the debates on budgetary control. Should these initiatives also run aground, then it's up to the voters to express their views. They will know then in any case which parties not to vote for, the ones which see the protection of profiteers as of more importance than is transparency in relation to spending taxpayers' money.”

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