An end to almost two decades of rowing over MEPs pay and expenses is possible after EU governments gave the green light to a new salary package designed to help shed the European Parliament's gravy train image.
The scheme approved yesterday would end the most notorious abuse under which MEP's can claim travel costs without receipts. In exchange for such a deal, all MEPs from across the 25-nation bloc would be paid a salary of €7,000 (£4,700) a month.
That is designed to eliminate disparities which arise from the fact that MEPs are currently paid the same as parliamentarians in the EU member states. Those differences widened dramatically last year when 10, mainly ex-communist countries, joined the EU. As a result, the parliament's 87 Italians MEPs, who earn €12,000 a month, receive about 10 times more than representatives from the Baltic states.
For more than a decade MEPs who considered themselves poorly paid have used the expenses regime to boost their pay packets.