EU Parliament adds €3.7m annually to MEP transport budget

EU Parliament adds €3.7m annually to MEP transport budget

MEPs have approved a controversial increase in spending on security measures in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks. This includes plans for a new internal chauffeur service for the assembly's 751 deputies.

MEPs are currently chauffeured in Brussels and Strasbourg by 'external agents', or contracted drivers, and the new plan would add an estimated €3.7m annually to the existing €7m transport budget.

Parliament's bureau, the key decision making body comprising the assembly's President Martin Schulz and Vice Presidents, discussed the proposals at a meeting at this week's plenary in Strasbourg.

Part of the budget will go on recruiting staff drivers who have first been given background security checks.

It is believed the Parliament has advertised for over 100 drivers, offering a gross starting salary at just under €2000.

The expenditure, which is part of the overall 2017 parliamentary administrative budget, has been defended on the grounds of heightened security concerns.

These have been highlighted by recent revelations that one of the suspected bombers who struck in Brussels on 22 March used to work as a contract cleaner in Parliament between 2009 and 2010.

Trade unions in Brussels have reportedly had concerns about the use of contracted drivers around the European Parliament.

There are also concerns about the security of confidential documents carried by MEPs.

In 2014, the official car of Viviane Reding, then a European Commission Vice President and now an MEP, was broken into.

Thieves left behind her official documents but made off with a suitcase and a cottage pie.

The decision to approve spending on security has predictably been attacked as a waste of money by some MEPs, including UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.

He said, "There is a huge fleet of limos and Mercedes costing €5m with a crew of professional drivers in Parliament. This service is laid on for all 751 MEPs. There is a chauffeur-driven car at an MEP's disposal all the time you are in Strasbourg or Brussels.

"If ordinary taxpayers knew how their money was being blasted around in Brussels they would come and burn this place down to the ground in disgust. The EU is a racket to take money from those who don't work for the EU and transfer it to people who do work for the EU."

His comments are echoed by party deputy leader Paul Nuttall, who told this website, "This whole place just stinks of hypocrisy. How the Eurocrats have the nerve to impose austerity on the peoples of Europe yet vote to preserve their precious limousine service is beyond me."

"If ordinary people knew about this they would be disgusted."

Meanwhile, a new communications push reportedly being considered by the Commission will involve a four-year contract for "corporate communications events", including town hall meetings where EU Commissioners take questions from the public, participation in conferences, international events and exhibitions.

source:www.theparliamentmagazine.eu

Nigel Farage

MEP involved

Nigel Farage
Paul Nuttall

MEP involved

Paul Nuttall