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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager required for a busy company in...

Recruitment Genius: Controller / Mobile Inspector

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This leading security company requires a prof...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A sales person is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy