Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Open And Honest ? EU Must Be Joking

The anti-EU blogosphere is starting to buzz with this story about abuse of expenses by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). And so it should.

Allegedly MEPs are not accounting properly for the £100m a year allocated to staff costs, and the European Parliament is trying to keep a highly damning report secret. (Or rather, in Euro-twaddle, it’s “taking measures to ensure that there is no collateral damage from the report”). One source is quoted as saying "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". Blood pressure rising yet ?
Only MEPs on the parliament's budget control committee are allowed to see this report, and even then only once they’ve applied to enter a secret room which is protected by biometric locks and security guards. They must sign a confidentiality agreement and they may not take notes.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies is on the committee and has seen the report. To his credit, he appears to be refusing to tow the line. He was on the Today Programme this morning, telling us that there is massive fraud and embezzlement; in one case an unnamed MEP reportedly took money but employed no-one, and another had just one member of staff. Davies is quoted as saying "This report is dynamite - and makes the Derek Conway affair at Westminster look like small change….I think the allegations within this report from our own auditors should lead to the imprisonment of a number of MEPs”. Blimey.

Whilst trying to keep the lid on all this, the EU has issued a fascinating clarification as to the report’s status. A spokesman is quoted as saying "The document is not secret. It is confidential. It can be read by Euro-MPs on the budget control committee, in the secret room but not generally. That is not the same as a secret document nobody can read". And the point of a secret document which absolutely no one could read would be…what, exactly ?

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at the notion of corrupt behaviour within the EU. This is, after all, the organisation whose auditors have refused to sign off the accounts for 13 consecutive years. This manipulation of expenses at the European Parliament is probably the tip of a very, very large iceberg and doubtless is indicative of the kind of behaviour which leaves the auditors feeling cold.

And the EU are trying to suppress news that might be unpalatable to the people they’re supposed to serve. Well, they’ve never done that before, have they ?

1 comment:

Ellee Seymour said...

There's always good and bad in politics, most people like to believe the worst. It's been a while since this story has done the rounds, and I think it was inevitable after the Commons expenses row.