According to today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament is only obliged to publish documents on the flat-rate office expenses of MEPs (General Expenditure Allowance, short GEA) if the restriction of MEPs’ personality rights is sufficiently justified. The lawsuit was brought by a consortium of investigative journalists. They were denied access to the requested documents as the Court found their request not sufficiently justified.
While the European Parliament’s Bureau does not implement the Plenary’s calls for a reform of GEA rules, Green MEPs Max Andersson and Sven Giegold submitted amendments to Parliament’s rules of procedure that propose to oblige MEPs to be transparent about their expenses without allowing the Parliament’s Bureau to block transparency. The Green amendments to the rules of procedure are foreseen to be discussed in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) in an extraordinary meeting 1 October in Strasbourg, to be voted in AFCO in October and in Plenary 13-15 November. The reform of Parliament’s rules of procedure is organised by rapporteur Richard Corbett and motivated by recent cases of hate speech in Parliament.
MEP Sven Giegold, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions commented:
“The European Court of Justice has rightly clarified that the political decision on the transparency of Members’ expenditure lies with the European Parliament itself. President Antonio Tajani and the previously blocking majority of Vice-Presidents are now obliged to act after months of procrastination. The blockade against measures to end the misuse of taxpayers’ money must not continue. The obvious lack of transparency of GEA threatens to damage the reputation of the European Parliament. That would be a millstone around the neck of MEPs in their fight against misuse of EU funds and corruption. If the President and the majority of Vice-Presidents continue to obstruct the implementation of the Plenary’s call for transparency, the Plenary has to take back the process and write transparency of MEP’s expenses directly into its rules of procedure.“
The EU Court’s press release: https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2018-09/cp180138en.pdf
On the Green amendments to Parliament’s rules of procedure on MEP expenses: https://sven-giegold.de/mep-expenses-plenary-must-bring-transparency/
On the decision by the Parliament’s Bureau against transparency of MEP expenses of 2 July: https://sven-giegold.de/gea-reform-rejected/