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19. Summary

19.1. A discrepancy exists at present between the way basic parliamentary salaries are set and the way reimbursement of expenses is met. Expense reimbursements are made uniformly across the board (and paid out of the European budget) as follows: 262 Euros per diem for attendance at Parliament, medical assistance, up to 12,576 Euros per month secretarial assistance allowance, furnished and equipped offices, 3,700 Euros per month general expenditure allowance. On the other hand, parliamentary salaries are set according to the national law of member states and consequently vary, in some cases radically (see chart in the appendix). All this is in line with the European political system and remains appropriate so long as the following basis is preserved: there is no homogeneous entity called 'the European people', there is no uniform voting system for election to the European Parliament and no equality of votes, and gigantic discrepancies continue to exist between the standard of living in the 25 member states of the European Union (part 1). 

19.2. The creation of a uniform basic salary at a high level (9,053 Euros per month) and the correspondingly high old age pension and taxation benefits coming from the advantageous Community tax as provided in the planned Statute do not make sense. They contradict the principle that unequal things should be treated unequally, and may entail severe harm to the European idea (parts 1 and 3b,c). 

19.3. Each successive  parliamentary draft for basic salaries of  MEPs  has been set at ever  higher amounts. The present proposed amount of 9,053 Euros was not publicly revealed for a considerable period and only came to light through our present research. Instead, false figures had been  employed  (part 2).

To link MEPs salaries to the those of judges (50 percent of the basic salary of judges at the European Court of Justice) seems from the outset objectionable for reasons of transparency. Additionally, this linkage seems questionable since judges in principle are not allowed to take up another occupation concurrently, whereas this restriction does not apply to MEPs. They can even be paid as lobbyists. Therefore many European MPs accumulate two incomes (part 2).  

19.4. The Statute would have completely put into disarray the structure of politicians’ salaries in most of the Member States. If they were granted 9,053 Euros, European MPs from Spain, Finland or Ireland would gain more than their cabinet ministers. MEPs from Poland and other accession countries would even earn double or three times the salary of their prime ministers and more than 20 times as much as the average income in their countries. After only one legislative period they would be eligible for old-age pension entitlements which amount up to five times the average income in their country of origin. Presumably neither their own citizens nor the citizens from other countries who would have to pay would find this acceptable. The ten accession countries should have been able to opt for the possibility of paying their MEPs less for a transition period. But in reality, this possibility exists on paper only. Every country making use of it will be fiscally punished and will therefore refrain from using it (part 3a).

19.5. The statute would lead to substantially higher incomes (part 4a) and to an even greater increase in retirement provisions for German MEPs - gross and net (part 5). The Council has shown hesitation about approving the Statute (part 6).

19.6. Certain spokesmen for German groupings in the European Parliament have tried to use misleading figures to camouflage the rises to which the proposed Statute would have led for German representatives. Even the President of the European Parliament publicly used the wrong figures (part 4b-e).  

19.7. In order to take the edge off the tax issue and in order to facilitate the Council’s consent to the Statute, the European Parliament proposed shortly before Christmas to provide Member States with the possibility to introduce a supplementary tax, in addition to the planned EU-tax. However, no guarantee existed that countries like Germany, for example, would actually have made use of this possibility after the European election in June 2004. Moreover Parliament itself expressed doubts, whether an additional national tax would be compatible with EU-law (part 7).

19.8. In addition, the Parliament promised the Council to do away with irregularities concerning the reimbursement of travel costs for flights to and from Brussels or Strasbourg. However, the Parliament was only willing to eliminate this obvious defect if the Council in return consented to the Statute for Members – a case of blackmailing. This abuse should have been remedied long ago. It contradicts the principle to spend public funds economically; using it for an increase of personal income is an abuse of power. Using it to establish an even greater misuse is completely unacceptable and contradicts the principle of proportionality. The alternative offered by the Parliament for the regulation of the flight costs would remove the legalized deceit in the processing of invoices. However, it threatens to get even more expensive than the previous method (part 8).

19.9. None of the reimbursement regulations (per diem allowance, general expenditure allowance, reimbursement of travel costs, costs for secretarial assistance allowance), would have been included in the Statute even though, in terms of budget, they have more than double the weight of the planned uniform salary of 9.053 Euros and even though they often contain considerable elements of personal income. These regulations would, on the contrary, have continued to be dealt with internally by the Bureau of the Parliament, thus divorced from any effective means of control.

This is not only politically awkward but is also in contradiction to Art. 190.5 of the Treaty and to the principle of democracy as laid down Art. 6.1 of the EU-Treaty and for example in Art. 20 of the German Basic Law. Regulations for the reimbursement of expenses must be decided on by the plenum of the Parliament and require the opinion of the Commission and the consent of the Council. That is: they must be decided on according to the method provided for the Statute itself (part 9).

The result is paradoxical: what really should have been regulated in the statute, namely the regulation of the reimbursement of costs, was excluded from it. Instead, the Statute fully treated matters which should remain in the jurisdiction of the member states, that is the basic salaries and the retirement pension (part 9).

19.10. The statute does not provide any imputation of other income to EU claims, even when paid from public funds (part 10).

19.11. The Statute which originally had been supposed to become effective only with the convention constitution, that is at the earliest in 2006, would now have become effective from the beginning of the new legislative period, that is after the elections to the European Parliament on June 13th, 2004 (part 11). 

19.12. The legislation system within the European Parliament shows serious defects: Numerous relevant data and circumstances were not established at all and therefore could not be included in the required deliberations either. To some extend even obviously false, manipulated calculations were used. Whether this procedure agrees with the requirement for stating the reasons on which a legislative enactment is based as provided for by article 253 of the Treaty is doubtful (part 12).

19.13. For all above reasons a preliminary version of this study was sent to the Council with an appeal to it to deny consent to the Statute, in fulfilment of its role as a controlling and monitoring instance, and to prevent damage to the  European Union and in particular to the European Parliament (part 13).

At its meeting of January 26, 2004, the Council withheld consent from the Statute. The qualified majority required by Art. 190.5 of the Treaty was not achieved because, in addition to Germany France, Austria and Sweden also exercised their veto. Accordingly, a discussion and resolution of the tax issue for which unanimity is required no longer took place (part 13).

19.14. Even those German MEPs who had earlier voted for the statute changed their minds and dissociated themselves from the proposal (part 14).

19.15. Presumably in order to justify themselves to their voters during the election campaign, some MEPs publicly concocted a fairy tale and tried to bolster it with manipulated calculations when the failure of the statute became apparent and when they had already dissociated themselves from the Statute: their claim was that in reality the Statute was soundly based and adequate. It only failed because of a populist campaign waged by the Bild-Zeitung which caused the Federal Chancellor Schröder to cave in. Some media, inadequately informed by their correspondents in Strasbourg and Brussels, were - at least for the time being – misled by this fairy tale which was also taken up by the President of the European Parliament (part 15). 

19.16. The future of the draft Statute is difficult to predict (part 16). 

19.17. Public confusion was also fuelled by the fact that the four vetoing governments stated their reasons against the Statute in a very incomplete form. In addition to diplomatic and political considerations this action may also be based on the fact that the governments wanted to reserve for themselves the possibility of agreeing to the Statute later, that is  after the European elections of June 13th, 2004. The public should therefore insist on a clarification of the attitude of its government towards the Statute before the elections (part 17). 

Stand: 07.05.2004