The think tank Open Europe has questioned the “gigantic” size of the committees at the European Parliament and suggests that many MEPs join the committees because of the “opportunities for significant travel abroad.”
As the committees met to decide on membership and chairmanships, Open Europe wrote: “Looking through the lists of MEPs appointed, the first thing that strikes us is that all the committees are gigantic – the Committee on Foreign Affairs has a ludicrous 71 members (almost 10 per cent of the entire parliament)!”
“It’s not immediately clear why this is, but we can’t help but wonder if the possibility for significant travel abroad is not a factor.”
“But even the more serious Committees are of an unwieldy size – trade (also with some travel perks) has 41 members, which is perhaps more justifiable as the EP [European Parliament] now has a veto over free trade deals.”
However, Open Europe says, “it is worth remembering that under Parkinson’s “coefficient of inefficiency” a committee of more than 20 members is less likely to make good decisions.”
As Breitbart London reported in May, members of the European Parliament have been spending more than €5m (£4m) 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.
Research published by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), dug out from official European Parliamentary records, showed that delegations of MEPs accompanied by staff and translators have been travelling 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.
Visits to the sun and sand in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries were particularly popular. The average cost of sending MEPs to ACP countries such as Samoa and Trinidad was put at €13,379 (£10,600) per person.
What UKIP called the “top British junketeer” to the ACP countries was Liberal Democrat Catherine Bearder with seven trips. Bearder is the only LibDem MEP to survive the party wipe-out at the elections in May.
Research published by Open Europe in May and reported by Breitbart London showed that “The EP’s budget has also risen significantly in recent years from just over €1.4bn (£1.1bn) in 2008 to over €1.7bn (£1.35bn) a year in 2014. This, many MEPs claim, is justified by them having expanded their work load as a result of the Lisbon Treaty.”
“However, there are many areas where EP spending could and should be cut. The EP’s budget is used to pay for MEPs, their staff and administration, but it is also used to fund activities” – what critics identify as propaganda – “designed to foster a European demos and pan-European democracy.”
Examples of the level of spending by the parliament include these figures from 2012:
Limousines: The EP awarded a contract worth €11,883,000 (£9,439,800) to TMS Limousine, a chauffeur driven vehicle hire company based in Brussels.
Cars: The EP also has its own car fleet, and according to the list of contracts awarded, it bought a few new vehicles in 2012. These included a new Audi for the President of the EP (€59,999/£47,600); a new BMW for the President of the Socialist (S&D) Group, the group of the Labour Party (€57,106/£45,360); also a new Jaguar (€59,607/£47,350) and a new BMW (€58,177/£46,200) for the parliament’s fleet.
MEPs are paid €96,246 (£76,457) per year but receive generous tax free allowances and pensions.
The report notes that the MEPs’ General Expenditure Allowance, which amounts to €51,588 (£40,975) a year, “remains vulnerable to abuse, as it is paid to MEPs and can be spent without the production of receipts.”