Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European Parliament discusses the way that his colleagues get ‘reimbursed’ for their ‘expenses’. Here’s an example showing how the system works:
“The idea of auditing any of these expenses strikes many Euro-MPs as sacrilegious – “an assault on the dignity of our office” as an Italian friend grandly put it. So everything is done on the basis of no receipts, no invoices. The most outrageous case is the travel allowance, whereby MEPs get the equivalent of a full fare plus 20 per cent regardless of how they actually make the journey. If you’re prepared to fly Ryanair from Stansted, you can easily trouser £600 a week – tax free, of course, since it counts as expenses, not income.”
Hannan draws wider conclusions:
“As Euro-enthusiasts muster in defence of the new constitution, we are once again being treated to some rather uplifting rhetoric about peace and democracy and so forth. To quote the document itself: “The Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity.
“Yet behind these phrases is the reality of the Brussels system: the sacking of whistleblowers, the Eurostat scandal, the Committee of the Regions affair, the self-righteous bureaucracy, the complacent Commissioners. And where are the MEPs, supposedly the people’s tribunes? Why, awarding themselves an additional perk of £35 a week to pay for any taxis that they may be forced to use when the limousine service stops running at 10pm.”
Now, corruption is not something that is unique to the EU, of course, but there is something about the ‘Union’s’ set-up that makes it somehow unsurprising. Flush with cash, not really a democracy, not really a nation, it has no real anchors, controls or balances. No wonder so many of its officials appear to be on the take…