Euro MPs lose lavish perks in drive to clean up image

Euro-MPs voted yesterday in favour of scrapping their notoriously lucrative expenses and introducing a single rate of pay, with MEPs from Scotland to Slovakia earning the same annual salary; and the majority receiving a pay rise.

The deal, approved by most members, will increase the pay of British MEPs by almost 30 per cent at current exchange rates. But it also means that, for the first time, MEPs' travel expenses will only be reimbursed on production of receipts.

The decision is the culmination of a long campaign to shed the gravy train image that has sapped the authority of the Strasbourg parliament. European Union governments will be asked to endorse the package next month, and Britain yesterday gave it a cautious welcome.

Under the present system, Euro MPs are paid the same as MPs in their own country's national parliament, leading to huge differentials in salaries, with Italian and German deputies earning significantly more than, for example, Irish or British, counterparts.

To make up the difference in salary, lower-paid MEPs have systematically exploited the lax expenses system. With no requirement to produce proof of payment, MEPs can legally fly economy class but claim a full-cost fare.

Under the plan agreed yesterday, all MEPs will earn a gross monthly salary of €8,600 (£6,045), which is equal to 50 per cent of the earnings of a judge at the European Court of Justice. At current exchange rates, that works out at around £72,500 a year for British MEPs; a rise of around £17,000 on their current pay of £56,358 which is based on the remuneration of a Westminster MP.

Italian members will see the largest pay cut, dropping from their current monthly salary of €11,000.These members and German MEPs had resisted attempts to cut their salaries. But the vote was seen as the last chance for parliament to get its house in order before the arrival of 10 new member states next year and ahead of European elections in June. The arrival of MEPs from the former communist countries of eastern Europe would have led to even more drastic disparities.

Pat Cox, the president of the European Parliament, said: "With this vote, we as MEPs have played our part. We have done the business and cleaned up our act. EU governments must not miss this opportunity to settle an issue that has been outstanding [far] too long". Michiel van Hulten, a Dutch MEP, argued: "We've all had to give some ground. After years of wrangling, the parliament is finally cleaning up its act."

British Conservative MEPs abstained in yesterday's vote, saying that they wanted their salaries to stay the same as Westminster MPs. But Labour and Liberal Democrats backed the new deal to ensure the reform of the politically-damaging expenses system.

Diana Wallis, Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "When we face Europe's citizens in elections next June, we could either have a parliament with its own house in order and its members treated and respected equally, or we can continue with the current disgraceful mix and muddle which leaves us all open to ridicule."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Sales Apprentice

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Team Leader

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence