|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.34, 20.9.01, p13|
MEPS responsible for overseeing spending by the European Parliament have been asked to investigate after an official working for its largest political group tried to claim around €37,000 in untaken holiday pay.
The unnamed female official, who worked as an aide to European People's Party group president Hans Gert Pöttering, claimed for 165 days worth of back pay when she retired last year.
But the European Parliament's independent financial controller Eoghan Hannrachain has blocked the request describing it as "extraordinarily large" and attacked the administration and EPP for approving the pay-out.
In a report on the issue to the Parliament's financial administrators, he details basic checks which should have been made before the payment was approved, adding: "There is no evidence that the authorising officer has properly carried out any of these validation requirements." A compromise decision to offer the official only 60 days seemed to be based on a mysterious "agreement" between the directorate responsible for personnel and the political group, rather than on the actual days owed, Hannrachain claims.
He even goes so far as to suggest the centre-right EPP group inflated the claim in order to take account of unpaid and unquantified 'overtime', which would be a clear breach of the rules.
Socialist Eluned Morgan, one of the MEPs on budgetary control committee looking into the case, said she believes it would be impossible for the employee to have accrued time equivalent to eight months leave, or five years of holiday entitlement. "This is the kind of thing that leads to the poor reputation of the European institutions," she said.
And she warned it could be indicative of a wider culture of improper pay claims. "Clearly we need to tighten the rules. The fact that this is so blatant indicates this kind of thing may have happened in the past to a lesser degree," she said. But EPP group spokesman Bob Fitzhenry said there was "absolutely no doubt" the official was owed the holiday pay, pointing out that she had worked in the Parliament for more than two decades. If you look at it over a 20-year period 165 is not a great deal of days really," he said. "As far as we are concerned she has been here for a very long time, working very long hours and this is the number of days our database shows she is entitled to. The administration of the Parliament accepts that she is owed these days, it's only the financial controller who can't accept it." Fitzhenry said he expected the financial controller's decision to be overturned once the budgetary control committee and the institution's administrative chiefs, the Bureau, had considered the case.
MEPs responsible for overseeing spending by the European Parliament have been asked to investigate after an official working for its largest political group tried to claim around €37,000 in untaken holiday pay.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|