Amid ever-growing calls for increased transparency and accountability in the European institutions, the European Parliament’s body of 20 MEPs that are chosen to lay down the institution’s internal rules voted down proposals to introduce basic financial accountability mechanisms to MEPs’ General Expenditure Allowance for European Parliamentarians, after it was deemed to be too costly to implement.
Every MEP has €4,416 directly provided for office and representation expenses related to their parliamentary work. The costs cover rental costs for constituency office space, phone bills, and office supplies. While no transparency rules are imposed, the MEPs are entitled to spend the funds under current rules and guidelines – which also includes the cost of hotel and restaurant bills within the home country of the MEPs, as well as other costs relating to events and conferences.
“Not one receipt is required and not even the Parliament knows if the MEPs are spending this public money under the rules that are in place. Their spending under this (current) budget amounts to just under €40 million annually for all of the MEPs,” according to Nick Aiossa of the EU branch of Transparency International.
The €40 million figure cited by Aiossa amounts to nearly €200 million in EU taxpayer’s money per parliamentary term.
“It is absolutely scandalous that Parliament has rejected even basic measure on transparency and accountability of how the MEPs are spending millions in taxpayers’ money. The Parliamentary Bureau has just squandered its only chance to bring about any meaningful reform to the General Expenditure Allowance before the 2019 elections,” added Aiossa.
All of the European People’s Party members – the largest in the European Parliament since 1999 – that sit on the Bureau, together with three of the five members of the Party of European Socialists & Democrats, and one from the European Conservatives and Reformers party, voted to keep the current rules unchanged.
The Parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani said a new set of rules would make it mandatory for European parliamentarians to keep receipts for all of their expenses.