Thursday, 21 February 2008

European Parliament Must Clean Up Its Act

The Daily Telegraph has just blown the whistle on the widespread and criminal abuse of expenses by MEPs in the European Parliament.

So endemic is the extent of the fraud, it is claimed, that the Report which documents it can only be seen by Members of the Budget Control Committee in a secret Bond-style room accessable by having your thumb prints and eyeballs scanned, or some such.

I asked around. It's on PHS Second Floor, if office gossip is to be believed. Maybe someone will leave the door open. It wouldn't be the first time security here were lax.

But I digress. Keeping something secret is one thing. All governments do that. But what is disgraceful is Parliament's subsequent behaviour when it came to light in the press.

The Torygraph reports that "Harald Rømer, the secretary-general of the European Parliament, was asked late on Monday night by Hans-Gert Pöttering, its president, and a group of senior Euro-MPs, to take measures to ensure that there was no "collateral damage" from the report".

"We want reform but we cannot make this report available to the public if we want people to vote in the European elections next year," said a source close to the decision.

Well I would have to take issue with that. Only a few months ago MEPs - the only parliamentarians in the Western world not to be held accountable for their spending - voted against plans for an annual audit of their expenses.

That they could make such a cynical move and then protest that highlighting the "criminal abuse" being perpetrated by - I'm willing to bet - a massive majority of the people's representatives would damage the image of European democracy before the 2009 elections is hypocritical in the extreme.

What they really mean of course is that, were the names to be published, the public would be so pissed at their behaviour that they might *gasp* be deselected and lose all their privileges. What a disaster for democracy.

While making this report public might be painful for Parliament in the short term it would ultimately earn it respect from even the most eurosceptic quarters, particularly if it were accompanied by a raft of radical proposals for Parliamentary Reform.

As it is, by covering up - badly - for colleagues who are essentially criminals, the good name of all, not to mention the European Project as a whole, could be damaged beyond repair.

And that would be a disaster for Europe's future influence and place in the world, whatever Torygraph propaganda might say to the contrary.

So if you want to take action, I suggest you WRITE TO YOUR MEP DEMANDING TO KNOW IF THEY HAVE MADE THEIR ACCOUNTS PUBLIC. AND IF NOT, WHY NOT.

3 comments:

Peter said...

damn good idea to write to my MEP,

I've just sent them this, using "write to them"

Dear Godfrey Bloom, Edward McMillan-Scott, Diana Wallis, Richard Corbett, Timothy Kirkhope and Linda McAvan,

I was absolutely stunned to read in the newspaper this morning of Chris Davies MEP's whistle-blowing into the "criminal" abuse of MEP expenses.

MEPs are public representative with huge privileges, and yet
Brussels appears all too distant for many people.

In the interests of accountability and the integrity of the Parliament as an institution, would you personally be willing to publish your expenses?

I very much looking forward to hearing from you.



Yours sincerely,

Tejinder Singh (Tito) said...

Interesting. Good work!

Lets see if something can be done to keep the subject alive as the approaching EP elections will unite MEPs to hush up the same.
Tejinder
+32 473 677 985

Sybil said...

Well written article.