The cries of Brexiteers are clear – the European Union is costing Britain too much money.
However, Britain’s pressure for the bloc to reform seems to have had little effect on the attitudes of the EU’s highest officials.
Timeline for Brexit
- December 19, 2018
After numerous challenges and complaints over the misuse of personal expenses, it seems that not much has changed.
Belgian magazine Knack has gained an insight into the way that Europe’s top brass travelled during 2016.
The results aren’t flattering.
An Access Info Europe request revealed that a total of €492,249 ($577,000) was spent by the 28 Euro commissioners in January and February alone.
A large chunk of those costs were splashed on private jets, documents showed.
Commissioners are entitled to use chartered flights if no commercial flights that fit their schedule are available, which, so it seems, it fairly often.
Although, not all officials appear to be abusing the privilege.
For example, Andrus Ansip, the vice president of the European Commission, made seven trips over the two month period.
In total, Ansip’s expenses came to €6,341. Likewise, Marianne Thyssen, commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, spent €7,435 on 16 trips.
Those are fairly reasonable expenses, given their field of work.
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However, these five commissioners spent a considerably larger among on a similar number of trips:
As former European Commissioner for budget and human resources, Kristalina Georgieva must have had a fairly good idea of the money that was available for the EU to spend.
Yet, rather than putting as much aside as possible to pay for the next bailout, she splashed out €22,960 on travel expenses at a cost of €1,766 per trip.
Another man in charge of managing money, the European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides spent €29,636 on official trips over the two month period, at a cost of €2,279 each time.
European Commissioner for international cooperation and development Neven Mimica took just eight trips during the first two months of 2016, putting him at the lower end of the list for trips taken.
However, at a cost of €3,748 each time, Mimica’s €29,987 bill makes him one of the EU’s worst travel expenses offenders.
As president of the European Commission, travelling is part of Jean-Claude Juncker’s job.
However, documents reveal that he spent €31,940 on just six trips.
That equates to €5,323 each time. Although, €26,351 of that was spent on just one trip – a two day state visit to Rome, complete with private jet.
The worst offender by a long way was high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini.
Her expenses were three times that of Juncker, totalling €96,091. Incredibly, €75,000 of that went on one trip to Azerbaijan.
Pressure mounts for release of expenses details
According to Politico, the European Commission attempted to block Access Info from releasing the information. As a result, public pressure is mounting for the organisation to release more information.
The Commission has since insisted that they won’t be releasing further details. This would create an “excessive administrative burden”, but they have insisted that they have nothing to hide.
“We are one of the most controlled organisations in the world,” the commission have stated. “Our transparency policy is far-reaching and comprehensive.”