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Free Christmas Ride For EU Employees

  • December 25th, 2008
  • Posted by Amelia Birnie

christmastravel.jpgThe European Union’s institutions in Brussels have been accused of squandering millions of Euros in taxpayers’ money by paying for their employees’ Christmas travel expenses at a time of economic crisis.

Once a year, EU employees are given a lump sum to cover their families’ holiday travel costs, which will vary according to how far they need to go to reach their country of origin.

No receipts need be submitted as long as the traveling takes place within the EU.

Hans-Peter Martin, an independent member of the European Parliament from Austria, wrote to the press denouncing this “shocking privilege.”

“The money would be better spent financing meaningful social projects,” Martin wrote.

Last year, the European Commission and the European Council jointly spent just under €47-million  (A$93.42-million; dcerates.com, 1.1.09) to pay for the Christmas travel arrangements of their 22,800-odd employees.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said her office had already addressed concerns expressed by  MEPs last February.

“Like most international organisations or foreign services in the (EU’s) member states, the Commission pays staff a travel allowance once a year. This is foreseen in staff regulations,” said Valerie Rampi of the Commission’s administrative unit.

Rampi said the amount spent by the Commission, which employs about 20,000 people, totaled €42-million (A$83.48-million) in 2007, the remainder paid out by the Council; which works out at about €2,100 (A$4174) per employee.

Any changes to the rule, in place since 2002, would have to be proposed by the Commission and approved by EU governments.

Reference:

New Europe News, Brussels, “Free travel arrangements for EU workers”, Issue 813, 17.12.08

BBC News, “Travel compensation for all EU employees”, 19.12.08. www.bbc.com, (19.12.08).

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