Members of the European Parliament will next week debate proposals from their leadership to increase their own office allowances by €1,500 a month and add 150 posts to the Parliament’s payroll.
The debate on Tuesday (18 May) will be one of the most important issues at next week’s plenary meeting of the Parliament in Strasbourg, along with a debate on the EU’s economic future.
The Parliament’s leadership has justified more spending on its own administration by arguing that the Lisbon treaty has increased MEPs’ workload.
Ahead of the Parliamentary debate, the national governments’ ambassadors to the EU will be discussing proposed changes to the EU’s 2010 budget today (12 May) and in particular whether to support an increase in the Parliament’s administrative spending for 2010 of €13.4 million.
The Parliament is prepared to cut its reserve for buildings by €4m, but would still need to increase the administrative budget by €9.4m, to €1.6 billion, to increase the allowances for hiring assistants to €19,040 a month and add 75 posts to the political groups’ staff and 75 to the committees’ secretariat.
Officials from the Parliament and the Council of Ministers have been in talks for the past few weeks over the request, said Alain Lamassoure, a French centre-right MEP who chairs the Parliament’s budget committee.
Slovak centre-left MEP Vladimir Man?ka, who is drafting the Parliament’s position on changes to the 2010 budget, said MEPs were still awaiting the verdict of member states on the Parliament’s requests before voting. But he said he was “pretty positive” that his colleagues would approve the new spending proposal soon.
If member states’ ambassadors do give their consent to the proposed increases today, the Parliament is likely to hold a final vote on the revised 2010 budget next week, officials said. But Man?ka said that if no agreement with the Council had been reached by June, the issues of new posts and allowances would be included in negotiations on the 2011 budget that are scheduled to begin between the two institutions on 30 June.
Several member states, including Spain, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of Ministers, the UK, Sweden and Finland, have given a cool response to the request for increased funding.
Although only a weighted majority of member states is needed to approve the proposal, support is uncertain, since several member states are troubled by budget crises at home. Some governments want to link the requests to other tussles with the Parliament – over approval of the Council’s spending in 2008, the EU’s budget for 2011 and changes to the EU’s financial and staff regulations which are needed for the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
MEPs will on Wednesday (19 May) debate the Europe 2020 growth and jobs strategy with José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission. The debate is likely to be dominated by the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis and recent attempts to stabilise the single currency.
Many MEPs have criticised Barroso and the eurozone’s finance ministers for responding too slowly to the growing debt and deficit crisis, which is likely to hamper economic recovery across Europe.
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Also on the agenda is a debate on the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, which will need the Parliament’s final approval once a deal between the EU and the Council of Europe is reached.
Members of the Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee will also review the latest efforts on Monday (17 May) to reach a deal with member states to set up the EEAS.