The current Parliamentary term, which began in July 2009, has seen a number of welcome changes to the 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 current monthly pre-tax salary of all MEPs (within the new statute dating from July 2009) is €7,957 which is the equivalent of an annual salary of €95,484. 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 €6,201. 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.
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 new equal salary arrangement was voted upon it would have represented a decrease in wages for UK MEPs. However, changes in the exchange rate mean this is not the case at present. The monthly salary received will vary according to the monthly exchange rate for countries outside the eurozone.
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 2011 this allowance was €4,299 per month. 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 £50 and above.
This is formally called Parliamentary Assistance Allowance. The maximum amount available is €21,209 per month. This has to be spent on 'human resources', people to assist Members in their Parliamentary work. 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 the Green MEP Trust 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.
I currently have three full-time members of staff (two in my London constituency and one in Brussels) and one additional part-time staff member in London. None of them are relatives. I also usually have one stagiaire (intern) in Brussels and sometimes another for Strasbourg weeks, as well as using consultants from time to time for specific projects.
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. This allowance is a payment of €304 per day, 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 2010, I attended 126 days of official business within the EU and 24 days outside the EU in relation to my position as Chair of the EP Delegations for South Asia.
This allowance is for travel to the Parliament both in Brussels and in Strasbourg and for official meetings.
Under the current rules (which began in July 2009) 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, which used to be paid for 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. Anything outside London will generally be claimed for separately.
For 2010, the figures are:
Rail, air travel (including delegation visits): €24,684 (total paid by European Parliament)
Distance allowance: €4,535
This covers 24 return trips to Brussels and 12 return trips to Strasbourg, 1 delegation visit to Budapest with the Employment Committee and 3 trips in my capacity as Chair of the South Asia Delegation.
Personal Travel Allowance
Each member has a personal travel allowance of €4,243 a year to enable them to accept invitations outside our usual places of work or make their own fact-finding journeys outside their own Member State. We can claim the real-costs by presenting the appropriate proofs and invitation if relevant. 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. In 2010, I made no claims on this account.
Under the 2009 statute, MEP pensions 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.
The Green MEP Trust accounts have been verified by an independent firm of auditors. Their audit certificates are available for the following periods:
Jan-Dec 2011 Aug 2009-Dec 2010 Jan-Jul 2009 Jan-Dec 2008
Spending summaries, including General Allowance, are available as follows:
Jan-Jun 2011 General Allowance 2011
Jan-Jun 2010 Jul-Dec 2010 General Allowance 2010
Jan-Jul 2009 Aug-Dec 2009
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:
Jan-Mar 2012 Apr-Jun 2012 Jul-Sep 2012 Oct-Dec 2012
Jan-Mar 2011 Apr-Jun 2011 Jul-Sep 2011 Oct-Dec 2011
Jan-Mar 2010 Apr-Jun 2010 Jul-Sep 2010 Oct-Dec 2010
European Parliament certificates for Jean's Parliamentary Assistance Allowance: