The European Parliament has seen a number of welcome changes to its expenses regime. This is at least partly because the Greens have made continuing efforts to promote change and because of the cross-party Campaign for Parliamentary Reform supported by many Members within the Parliament.
More information about my accounts and expenditure is available towards the end of this page. What follows is a more detailed narrative account.
So, what are MEPs paid?
The 2014 monthly pre-tax salary of MEPs under the single statute is €8,020 which is the equivalent of an annual gross salary of €96,240. The cost is met from the European Parliament’s budget and is subject to an EU tax and accident insurance contribution, after which the monthly salary is €6,250. UK MEPs also pay National Insurance contributions under the UK system and the difference between EU and national tax, so the total amount of tax is as for an equivalent UK salary. The salary level is based on 38.5% of the basic salary of a judge at the European Court of Justice and is changed in line with that salary. This was the level agreed with national governments when the changes were introduced. MEPs do not vote separately on their own salary.
Why aren’t MEPs paid the same as MPs?
Prior to July 2009 MEPs were paid at a rate equivalent to MPs in the country they represent, leading to huge discrepancies between MEPs from, for example, Poland and Italy. Scrapping this in favour of equal salaries helped push through some of the other reforms of the allowances and expenses system.
When the equal salary arrangement was voted upon it would have represented a decrease in wages for UK MEPs. The actual monthly salary received will vary according to the monthly exchange rate for countries outside the eurozone, such as the UK.
The European Parliament’s total budget represents about 1% of all EU expenditure. About one fifth of that 1% is allocated to MEPs’ total expenditure at present. Each Member of the European Parliament is entitled to claim the following allowances, which are paid from the Parliament’s budget.
This is formally called the General Expenditure Allowance. For 2014 this allowance was €4,299 per month and for 2015 it increased to €4,320 per month (having been frozen since 2011). The precise amount received will depend on the exchange rate at the time of each payment. It is used for expenditure such as constituency office rent, telephone and postal charges, and IT costs. The allowance is halved if an MEP fails to attend at least half of the Strasbourg plenary sessions, unless prior permission has been sought, for example on the grounds of illness or for maternity leave.
Though there is no formal requirement from the Parliament to do so, I publish a summary of my annual general allowance expenses, as do the majority of UK MEPs. I also make available invoices/receipts for expenditure items of £25 and above.
This is formally called Parliamentary Assistance Allowance. The maximum amount available is €21,379 per month. This has to be spent on ‘human resources’, people to assist Members in their Parliamentary work. It is not paid to the MEP themselves. It should be remembered that MEPs in the UK are elected to cover a region: the London Region currently covers 73 Westminster constituencies and has a population of over 7.5 million people. This allowance can cover staff employed on a long-term (the 5 years that a Parliament lasts) or temporary basis, and covers other possibilities such as consultancy and research.
It also covers all the related costs such as national insurance, tax, pension, training and staff expenses should they be asked to travel to Strasbourg, for example. MEPs can also use it to cover expenses for those on work experience with us. Members have to demonstrate to Parliament’s authorities that our staff are covered for tax and social security payments.
The Parliamentary Assistance Allowance cannot be paid directly to the MEPs themselves and I use Linden Accountants as my approved Paying Agent to administer these UK staff resources and contracts. The contracts for my Brussels based staff and stagiaires (interns) are administered and paid directly by the Parliament. Copies of all staff contracts are lodged with the EP authorities, as required by the rules.
My contract with my Paying Agent is regulated by the Parliamentary authorities. At the end of each calendar year, through my Paying Agent, I provide a detailed reconciliation of the monies received for Parliamentary Assistance to the European Parliament. These are reviewed by the Parliamentary authorities and formally signed off if correct.
I currently have four full-time and two part-time members of staff, who are based either in my London constituency or in Brussels. None of them are relatives. Any full-time stagiaire (intern) is remunerated under the European Parliament rules.
Information about staff and paybands is available towards the end of this page.
Daily Attendance Allowance
Because MEPs are required to move frequently between their constituencies and the European Parliament’s two main places of work (Brussels and Strasbourg), they can claim a subsistence allowance to cover expenses such as hotel rooms and/or flat rental and meals. For 2015, this allowance is a payment of €306 per day (up from the €304 payable since 2011), and is payable for each day that we attend an official Parliament meeting or are present at an EU institution (Luxembourg, Brussels or Strasbourg) during an official working day for work purposes. No receipts are required as this is a lump-sum payment, made if we sign the official register or the attendance list at the official meeting.
When we are on official visits outside the EU, we are paid 50% of that daily rate plus our accommodation costs. During official plenaries of the Parliament, the amount is halved if a Member is not present for 50% of the roll-call votes. In 2012, I attended 130 days of official business within the EU and 33 days outside the EU in relation to my position as Chair of the EP Delegations for South Asia. In 2013, I attended 133 days of official business within the EU and 19 days outside the EU in relation to my position as Chair of the EP Delegations for South Asia. From January to April in 2014, I attended 45 days of official duties in Brussels and Strasbourg as well as 5 days on a Delegation trip to Bangladesh. For the first 6 months of the new parliamentary term (July-Dec 2014) I attended 51 days of official business but there was no official Delegation travel during that period.
This allowance is for travel to the Parliament both in Brussels and in Strasbourg and for official meetings.
Under the current rules(1) on presentation of receipts MEPs are refunded the actual cost of any travel tickets purchased by them plus time and distance allowances for attending official Parliamentary meetings. These additional payments can still be surprisingly high. They are designed to cover travel costs to the point of departure and incidental expenses en route such as any taxi or left luggage costs. I am using mine to pay for in-London constituency travel and UK travel, which used to be payable from the General Allowance in the previous Parliamentary term. I also offset my carbon emissions for any air travel – not a solution but the money is used to help fund sustainable development projects.
Under the current rules, travel within the UK should now be claimed directly from the European Parliament and MEPs are entitled to 24 journeys a year. This would certainly not cover the number of constituency journeys I make in a year so that is why I am using the time and distance travel allowance monies for those. I have not claimed for travel within the UK for at least three years.
For 2012, rail and air travel paid was €18,377, with an additional duration and distance allowance totalling €11,983. Travel for the trips in my role as Chair of the South Asia Delegation was €18,637. For 2012, this included 26 trips to Brussels, 11 to Strasbourg, and an Employment Committee delegation. There were 4 trips in my capacity as Chair of the South Asia Delegation – this included the first visit by an EP Delegation to Burma.
For 2013, the figures for rail and air travel paid was €19,813 and the additional duration and distance payment figure was €12,560 . For 2013, this covers 25 Brussels trips, 12 Strasbourg sessions and Employment Committee Delegation visits to Dublin and Vilnius, amounting to some 130 days in total. Delegation travel was €11,554 and covered travel to Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives in combination with Sri Lanka.
Personal Travel Allowance
Each member can claim up to €4,264 per year for personal travel allowance, payable against receipts/proofs of expenditure. This is intended to enable members to accept invitations outside our usual places of work or make their own fact-finding journeys outside their own Member State. I have used some of mine in the past to fulfil a speaking engagement for the Italian Anti-Poverty Network and for a fact-finding visit to the Middle-East, including Gaza. More recently, I have used it to cover costs for speaking at a conference on job creation in the environmental sector in Spain. In 2012, I claimed €537 from this allowance and for the first half of 2013, had claimed €557. In 2013 I used some of these travel monies for trips to Spain for the ETUC Conference and for a Conference on Green Jobs.
For 2014, I used my additional travel monies for the year for two trips to Brussels during the transition period between the 2014 Euro Election and the formal start of the new Parliament, as required by European Parliament rules, and towards a goodwill trip to Bangladesh to speak at a conference of the Garment Manufacturers together with a fact-finding trip on the situation in the sector post-Rana Plaza. I did not accept any hotel or flight costs from outside bodies for that visit.
Under the 2009 statute, MEP pensions from that date are now dealt with by the European Parliament and the old voluntary additional pensions scheme has been abolished for newly elected MEPs. I was never a member of this scheme. The Green Group tabled proposals that this additional fund should not be bailed out from the European Parliament budget.
Spending summaries, including General Allowance, are available as follows:
General Allowance 2015
General Allowance Jan-Jun 2014 General Allowance Jul-Dec 2014
General Allowance 2013 General Allowance 2012
Jan-Jun2011 General Allowance 2011
Jan-Jun2010 Jul-Dec2010 General Allowance 2010
Jan-July 2009 Aug-Dec 2009 Jan-Dec 2008
Jean’s receipts are published every six months in two documents, each one spanning three months, for ease of reference. Receipts for Jean’s General Allowance expenditure are available as follows:
European Parliament certificates for Jean’s Parliamentary Assistance Allowance:
(1) Which began in July 2009.