Last binge of the Euro chiefs

THE EUROPEAN Commissioners set to leave their postings in Brussels are busy spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on lavish trips all over the world.

Before they leave their jobs in September, the commissioners have been "concentrating on spending their travel budgets", according to senior commission sources.

In the past months, after a damning investigation of EU finances found evidence of widespread mismanagement, commissioners have found the time to make speeches in the high-class resorts of Capri, Cape Verde and the Ivory Coast.

Others have gone at the taxpayer's expense on trips to America and Brazil not listed in the official EU calendar of commissioners' movements, which is supposed to list all visits on behalf of the EU.

The worst offender is Joao de Deus Pinheiro of Portugal, who was criticised in the report on EU fraud for giving his brother-in-law a highly paid job in his cabinet office. Mr Pinheiro, who is responsible for EU relations with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, this month spent four days in the scenic resort of Cape Verde, where he was officially attending a conference on development donors.

His office confirmed that the EU paid his expenses - including first- class air fare - and that the commissioner spent last weekend, too, in the picturesque archipelago, whose deep-sea diving and stunning scenery have made it a magnet for expensive holidays.

"It was an official mission, so he has expenses. I don't know what the commissioner did at the weekend. I never asked about his private life," a spokeswoman said. The trip was not included in the European Commission's official calendar.

Martin Bangemann, a German commissioner responsible for IT and industry, who was not blamed in the report, has been busy travelling to the US and Brazil. Last week, according to his office, he was in Denver, making a speech at a university. And last weekend he was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at a communications conference. He intends to stand down from the commission in order to spend more time sailing.

Today France's commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy, who is not expected to be reappointed, is busy in the Ivory Coast, where he will remain until tomorrow on an "official visit".

The commissioner responsible for financial affairs, who works closely with the discredited president of the commission, Jacques Santer, was on another official visit last week, to Senegal.

Senior officials in the commission are disgusted by the number of junkets that some outgoing commissioners are taking. "It's completely unbelievable. They are jetting all over the world to spend what's left of their travel budgets before they leave," one source said. "Half these missions have very tenuous connections to their official responsibilities."

The commission refused to confirm how much the trips cost, but on average commissioners receive pounds 60,000 a year in travel expenses on top of their pounds 125,000 salaries, chauffeur-driven cars and generous allowances for living away from home. A spokesman for the commission's personnel department said that commissioners were able to spend "whatever they like".

"A commissioner has an unlimited budget; he can go wherever he wants," the spokesman said.

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home