|Vol.7, No.38, 18.10.01, p2
A 'SPECIAL allowance' awarded to Bodo Hombach, co-ordinator of the EU's efforts to underpin the Balkans peace process, has been attacked by the Union's financial watchdog.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Auditors said that there was "no apparent justification" for the allowance, first granted in 1999 when the German politician took up his post as head of the team implementing the 'stability pact' for south-eastern Europe.
In a new report on funding the EU's common foreign policy, the auditors state that an exception was made for Hombach. In July 1999, the Council of Ministers agreed that 850,000 should be allocated to "cover the cost related to the mission" until the end of that year. A document published in the EU's Official Journal specified that the costs would include Hombach's salary and "a special allowance" but did not give the exact sum for each. A document sent by the Council to the auditors said that it agreed with their remarks but did not elaborate. The European Commission said, meanwhile, that the Council's decision had been taken against its advice that the terms offered to Hombach should be in line with the remuneration scheme for other special representatives.
Hombach's spokesman Roland Bless said he "had no say in the decisions regarding his salary. His remuneration is determined by the Council and published in the Official Journal. It is this Council decision, which the auditors criticise."
Before his current job, Hombach had worked as chief adviser to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. He played a key role in drafting the "Third Way" Social Democrat manifesto which UK Premier Tony Blair has endorsed.
No stranger to controversy, Hombach has come under investigation over claims that he offered political favours in return for a discount on a luxury apartment in Düsseldorf. He has also been accused of channelling about 160,000 to a slush fund for his party in the 1994-98 period.
The 49-year-old will be stepping down from his current post in December. He has accepted a lucrative offer to become head of Westdeutsche Allegemeine Zeitung (WAZ), a publishing group based in Essen. Member states are currently holding talks to find a successor and, although no candidate has yet emerged, many diplomats believe that France will win the post for one of its nationals.
A 'special allowance' awarded to Bodo Hombach, co-ordinator of the EU's efforts to underpin the Balkans peace process, has been attacked by the Union's financial watchdog.
|Countries / Regions
|Germany, Southeastern Europe