|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.6, 8.2.01, p9|
TWO Euro-sceptic MEPs have been called before the Parliament's disciplinary body and could face court action for publicly using travel expenses to fund anti-EU causes.
British Euro MPs Nigel Farage and Jeffrey Titford are to be interrogated by the Parliament's administrative chiefs this month over their alleged abuse of expense payments, amounting to €18,000.
The two members of the UK Independence party say they have been forced to claim more cash than they actually spend because under current rules travel expenses are paid at a flat rate and not according to actual costs incurred.
Rather than pocket the difference, as many MEPs do, Farage and Titford have been trying to highlight the faults in the system by openly spending the money to support a British shopkeeper who has been taken to court in the UK for refusing to obey EU legislation requiring him to use the metric system.
Parliament chiefs say the pair have gone too far and are attempting to claim back the misspent cash.
"They have been asked to pay back any sums that have been used by them for purposes other than travel," said David Harley, the Parliament's chief spokesman. "If there are grounds for believing that any member is using the money received for expenses for other purposes and in particular for the funding of political activities, then the Parliament must act."
If they do not pay back the cash the assembly could be forced into an embarrassing court case - a move which could give the two MEPs precisely the kind of publicity they are looking for.
"What the institutions are saying is put the money in your pocket and say nothing. I believe this is a corrupt system," Farage told European Voice.
Under the current rules MEPs are paid travel expenses on the basis of a flat rate, equivalent to the price of a first class ticket. If they choose to find a cheaper deal they can simply pocket the difference.
Parliament chiefs say that although the payments must be made in this way MEPs are under a moral obligation not to abuse the system. Some Euro MPs voluntarily return the extra money to the Parliament, while others have set up specific bank accounts and use the cash to pay for other official duties.
Travel expense reimbursements are due for reform under ongoing plans to draw up common rules on pay and perks for assembly members.
Two Euro-sceptic MEPs have been called before the Parliament's disciplinary body and could face court action for publicly using travel expenses to fund anti-EU causes.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|