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."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Chelsea are interested in loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton again next season
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series