GRASPING Euro MPs sparked fury last night by demanding a pay rise of up to three per cent.
As the eurozone teeters on the brink of catastrophe and Britain is forced to tighten its belt, the shameless demand added to the growing clamour for us to pull out of the EU. The basic salary of an MEP is already £82,915 a year, compared with £64,766 for an MP at Westminster. Euro MPs can also rake in £360,000 in expenses.
If the three per cent budget increase is ratified in Brussels next month, MEPs would receive an extra £2,500 in pay and more lucrative expenses and pension entitlements. It would also add the equivalent of an extra £45million a year to the hugely inflated parliamentary budget, just as debt-ravaged Greece faces financial ruin.
The increase would bring the total cost of the army of MEPs and their hangers-on to a staggering £1.55billion next year.
It proves the juggernaut of EU excess shows no signs of slowing and will add more support to the Daily Express crusade for Britain to pull out of Europe.
These people must be living in cloud cuckoo land. They cannot be living in the real world
Tory MP Philip Davies
Angry critics of the Brussels gravy train last night criticised the latest demands at a time when families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “These people must be living in cloud cuckoo land. They cannot be living in the real world.
“It is totally unacceptable to ask for any kind of budget increase while European nations are struggling as they are.”
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “It’s astonishing how Europe’s politicians manage to be so consistently out of touch with the priorities of ordinary taxpayers.
“Brussels is rife with waste and pointless spending, the last thing the European Parliament should do is shamelessly vote itself an even bigger budget. Eurocrats already hoover up far too much cash from British taxpayers. It’s an affront for them to demand more while Britain necessarily cuts its own spending.”
Europe’s 754 MPs voted through the increase of between 1.9 per cent and 3 per cent during a debate on next year’s budget in Strasbourg.
They said the increase was needed because Croatia is joining the EU in 2013. But Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen said: “Once again this Parliament is showing its detachment from its citizens.
“In the middle of this crisis where citizens in Europe are being told by the EU to face drastic cuts, this house still thinks it has the right to ask for an inflationary increase.
“It cannot even agree what this increase should be. Whether it is 1.9 per cent or 3 per cent is irrelevant. The EU bureaucracy is already bloated. It needs to go on a hard diet.”
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “The greedy European elite are still filling their boots while Athens is burning under the austerity imposed by the European Union. It is a disgusting spectacle.”
Any budget increase could see each Euro MP costing the taxpayer a staggering £2million, according to Ms Andreasen. “The European Parliament budget – essentially administrative – has grown disproportionately. At 2012 rates it amounts to 2.27milllion euros per MEP,” she said.
The astronomical amount put forward by Ukip includes salaries, gold-plated pensions, buildings, furniture, transport and other costs involved in a Parliament that meets in both Brussels and Strasbourg.
Meanwhile, a highly critical report by the European Court of Auditors has found problems in the way the EU’s 31 agencies manage their budgets. The findings are likely to fuel the debate about the usefulness of the bodies at a time of austerity. The report analyses the costs, financial management and “operational efficiency” of 22 out of the EU’s 31 autonomous agencies.
The agencies carry out studies on issues ranging from drug addiction to trademark registrationand police co-operation.
Eleven out of the 22 surveyed could not properly account for half the expenses they filed in 2010, the auditors found.