Brussels pays top Eurocrats £97,000 a year – after they leave

The European Commission is having to fend off accusations of providing a gilded cage for its bureaucrats amid revelations about the extent of "golden handshakes" enjoyed by former staff. The criticism comes over claims that former commissioners are still enjoying payments of at least €97,000 [£83,000] a year even after they leave office.

At least 16 ex-commissioners are still claiming the payments, even though they have all gone on to other political or lobbying jobs since leaving the Commission last year, according to the Financial Times Deutschland.

As the most senior members of the EU's executive body, commissioners are in the top salary tier in Brussels, earning on average around €20,000 per month. Additionally, they are entitled to allowances for accommodation, travel and schooling for their children and generous pensions. When they leave, they can claim between 40 and 65 per cent of their former wage for up to three years. The practice is designed to avoid any conflict of interest which might arise if commissioners, who are in charge of EU policy making, immediately move to jobs in the private sector after leaving their posts.

According to a list obtained by the newspaper, Charlie McCreevy, the former Irish Commissioner who is now on the board of Ryanair, is among those who have not forgone the privilege. Mr McCreevy enjoys up to €47,000 a year in his new function, says the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation. Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian President, and Franco Frattini, the Italian Foreign Minister, are also reportedly still claiming the Commission cash.

"This rule was designed to enable former Commissioners to maintain their independence and not feel they have to jump on the job market as soon as they leave," said Michael Mann, a European Commission spokesman. He added that payments cease when a Commissioner's new salary exceeds his former income and they are taxed. Although the regulation is not new and was approved by 27 member states, it is politically sensitive at a time of rising unemployment across much of Europe.

"From the PR perspective, this is definitely not helpful," said one Commission official. "There is a flurry of this every so often, when we are accused of being on a gravy train. It was the same last year with the salary rises," said the official, referring to calls to shelve a planned salary rise. The increase was unpopular with many member states but it was eventually approved after Eurocrats began industrial action.

The issue is more thorny when former commissioners such as Louis Michel and Poland's Danuta Hübner take up posts as Members of the European Parliament. Critics of the rule say they have no right to the Commission money, but both were allowed to do so.

"It would be a very nice gesture if these provisions ceased once they found a new job," says Piotr Kaczynski of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a think-tank in Brussels.

Ingeborg Graessle, a German MEP and a member of the budget committee, will seek a freeze on commissioners' pay until the regulation is changed.

Michael Mann added: "There will be an overhaul next year. We are conscious some things must be done."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'