Members of the European Parliament have been spending more than €5m a year on alleged “fact finding” trips to some of the most luxurious destinations on the world, with 160 trips charged to taxpayers in the last two years alone.
Figures just disclosed show that delegations of MEPs accompanied by staff and translators have been travelled to dozens of luxurious destinations, including Barbados, India, Indonesia, Mauritius, Samoa, Trinidad, and the island republic of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean island famous as the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love, attracted “fact finding” visits by 18 different European Parliamentary delegations in 2012 alone.
Research published yesterday by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), dug out from official European Parliamentary records, shows that visits to the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries were particularly popular. The average cost of sending MEPs to ACP countries such as Samoa and Trinidad is put at €13,379 per person.
What UKIP calls the “top British junketeer” to the ACP countries was Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder with seven trips.
Next was Labour MEP David Martin with six. Martin also joined another European Parliamentary delegation specialising in the Caribbean, with which he made trips to Trinidad and Barbados.
The third top British ACP “junketeer” was the Conservative Martin Callanan with five trips, including one to Tenerife.
Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of UKIP, which refuses to go on such visits, told Breitbart London: “These MEPs who jet off to Tenerife and Barbados and so on are obviously jolly junketeers. They are helping themselves to a tax-funded snooze on the beach rather than bettering the lives of their constituents.”
“These useless delegation trips are ridiculously expensive waste of time. I want to hear Labour, Tory and LibDem MEPs justify their exotic trips to the voters.”
“It is UKIP policy not to go on these junkets and it is something we are proud of.”
In what one parliamentary insider called “a doing damn-all itinerary,” UKIP uncovered a record of a trip to Guimarães in Portugal in June 2012 by twelve MEPs, including British Labour MEP Mary Honeyball, two administrators of the cultural committee and two political advisors, four translators and one “technical advisor.”
According to a copy of an official document seen by Breitbart London, the itinerary of the first day included coffee breaks, a visit to a cultural centre, a visit to a sports centre, a “working dinner” and a late night visit to the historic centre of the city. The programme on the second day was similar, with the itinerary of the third day including only a press conference and departure.
The total travel bill in 2012 for all MEPs inside the EU and around the world, including the cost of transporting them in a fleet of chauffeur-driven cars around Brussels and Strasbourg, was €40m. This is up from €39.2m in 2011 and €35.9m in 2010.
These figures do not include “daily, time and distance allowances,” nor do they include the include €110,000 a year an MEP can claim for travel between Brussels and Strasbourg and his home country.
In a gesture towards the idea of saving money, a document produced by the secretary general of the parliament’s budget control committee suggests MEPs might “consider” sharing their chauffeur-driven limousines on car journeys.