EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Yesterday I read the article ‘Fresh start with new members’ statute’ on the European Parliament’s website [1]. The article reminded me of a press release by Open Europe [2] drawing public attention to the money pit that the benefits to be received by the members of the Commission of the European Communities presided by José Manuel Barroso upon leaving office constitute. These are regulated by a legal act [3] (as subsequently amended) and formally do not constitute a misuse of taxpayers’ money. In view of the broad public resonance caused by the press release [4] [5] [6], here I will not discuss the commissioners’ benefits.

Instead, I would like to initiate a public debate on the clear case of conflict of interests that the passing by the European Parliament itself of the act setting out the salaries, pensions and benefits of its members and their families [7] constitutes.

In addition, recalling the well-known facts that:

1) the provisions governing the salaries, pensions and numerous additional benefits of the high-ranking officials at the European institutions and their families are set out in Regulation No 422/67/EEC, 5/67/EURATOM of the Council determining the emoluments of the President and members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice [3] [8] and the dependent Decision of the European Parliament adopting the Statute for Members of the European Parliament [7];

2) all these officials have taken office out of their free will in order to do a certain job and that they are free to leave that job and look for another, more exciting one if their current job is boring them;

3) members and President of the Commission of the European Communities are not elected by the European citizens although sustained on their money (the Gross National Income component accounts for 65.4 % of the total revenue for the 2009 budget [9]);

4) Regulation No 422/67/EEC, 5/67/EURATOM of the Council determining the emoluments of the President and members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice [3] was issued and is amended by the Council of the European Communities – another European institution the members of which are not elected directly by Europeans;

5) Decision of the European Parliament of 28 September 2005 adopting the Statute for Members of the European Parliament (2005/684/EC, Euratom) [7] setting out the salaries, pensions and benefits of the Members of the European Parliament and their families was adopted by the European Parliament itself which, as already outlined, is a clear case of conflict of interests,

I would like to call for:

a) reconsideration of the procedure for approval of the salaries, pensions and benefits of high-ranking officials with the aim of providing the European citizens, who are the sovereign of the European institutions, with a direct decisive role and eliminating the existing conflict of interests (see above);

b) reconsideration of the need for an additional monthly entertainment allowance granted by Regulation No. 422/67/EEC, 5/67/EURATOM of the Council determining the emoluments of the President and members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice [3] (as subsequently amended);

c) a thorough investigation of the need for and duration of the transitional allowance which in the cases of former members of the Commission and of the Court of Justice is to be paid on a monthly basis for a three-year period upon leaving office [3] (as subsequently amended).

It is my opinion that the optimisation of Community, and respectively taxpayers’, spending incurred by current and former high-ranking officials at the European institutions offers an opportunity to reinforce democracy in Europe and transparency in the Communities’ institutions.

Sincerely,

Svetoslav Apostolov

REFERENCES:
[1] European Parliament. 2009. Fresh start with new Members’ Statute. Press release REF.: 20090626STO57497. [online]
URL: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/008-57509-201-07-30-901-20090626STO57497-2009-20-07-2009/default_en.htm (site last accessed on 03.07.2009)

[2] Open Europe. 2009. EU Commissioners to take home more than £1 million each on leaving office. [online]
URL: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media-centre/pressrelease.aspx?pressreleaseid=102 (site last visited on 16.05.2009).

[3] Council of the European Communities. 1967. Regulation No 422/67/EEC, 5/67/EURATOM of the Council of 25 July 1967 determining the emoluments of the President and members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice. Official Journal of the European Communities L 187, p. 1.
A non-binding consolidated version is available online:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1967R0422:20050205:EN:PDF
(site last accessed on 17.05.2009).

[4] Jørgensen, D. 2009. Written Question by Dan Jørgensen (PSE) to the Commission – Subject: Commissioners’ pensions. [online]
URL: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2009-2672+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN (site last accessed on 16.05.2009).

[5] Vucheva, E. 2009. Think-tank blasts EU commissioners’ pensions package. EUobserver.com. [online]
URL: http://euobserver.com/18/27835 (site last accessed on 16.05.2009).

[6] Libertas’ website: http://www.libertas.eu/ (site last accessed on 16.05.2009).

[7] European Parliament. 2005. Decision of the European Parliament of 28 September 2005 adopting the Statute for Members of the European Parliament (2005/684/EC, Euratom). Official Journal of the European Union L 262, p. 1.
Available online:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2005:262:0001:0010:EN:PDF (site last accessed on 17.05.2009).

[8] Council of the European Communities. 2007. Corrigendum to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 202/2005 of 18 January 2005 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice and of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance (Official Journal of the European Union L 33 of 5 February 2005). Official Journal of the European Union L 224, p. 7.
Available online:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:224:0007:0007:EN:PDF (site last accessed on 03.07.2009).

[9] EUR-Lex Budget online: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/budget/www/index-en.htm (site last accessed on 11.05.2009).

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Comments

  1. This letter is bang on target especially now as all countries are in a recession and are facing massive unemployment. It is essential that there is “across the board” “belt tightening”

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