MEPs’ travel reimbursement
EPP stands firm: Conference of Presidents not competent
By Gaspard Sebag | Friday 08 June 2012
The European Parliament’s Conference of Group Presidents is not competent to overrule Bureau decisions, argues EPP Chair Joseph Daul. Several group leaders, in particular Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE) and Hannes Swoboda (S&D), expressed their discontent about a recent provision voted by the Bureau concerning reimbursement expenses for MEPs’ trips (see box). Several people inside Parliament are scrambling to find a solution to reverse the Bureau’s decision. Tasking the EP’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) with a report to change the rules of procedure is one of the avenues being explored by the Greens-EFA group.
During the Conference of Presidents’ meeting, on 7 June, EP President Martin Schulz said he would inform the Bureau about concerns expressed. He declared himself sceptical about holding a new vote in the Bureau.
On 6 June, ALDE decided that all its MEPs would declare all reimbursements relating to trips within 30 days. It is unclear how this will work out in practice, probably via involvement of the EP’s transparency unit. “Will all ALDE members do it?” wonders an EP source. Daul said he would do so once a year.
On 21 May, an EPP and ECR alliance, holding seven and one votes out of 14, respectively, voted in Bureau so that MEPs will not be obliged to declare reimbursement of accommodation and living expenses under 300 euro per day or economy class train, rail or boat tickets if invited to events linked to their parliamentary work. Conflicts of interests are deemed absent concerning several categories of interest representatives.