The Bureau’s latest investigation reveals that the European Commission has spent millions of taxpayers’ money on private jet travel, luxury resorts, parties and expensive presents. Our investigation shows that Commissioners were travelling by private jet and handing out gifts of Tiffany jewellery to guests as Europeans faced budget cuts and IMF bailouts.
Research by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal:Over €7.5m was spent on private jet travel for Commissioners between 2006-2010. President Barroso and eight assistants ran up a bill of €28,000 for a four night stay at the New York Peninsula Hotel, where the delegation stayed in suites costing on average €780 per night. The Commission spent over €20,000 between 2008-2010 on gifts, with guest speakers being presented with gifts from the jewelers Tiffany. Over €300,000 was spent on events the EU described as “cocktail parties” in 2009. One bill totalled €75,000 for an event subsidised by the EU’s Research Executive Agency in Amsterdam, boasting a “night filled with wonder like no other…state-of-the-art technology, challenging art, combined with trendy cocktails, surprising performances and top DJs”.
The Bureau’s study comes as the Commission has called for a budget increase of 4.9% for the EU budget as a whole, whilst European nations are grappling with record national debts, embarking on extensive privatisation programmes and appealing for IMF bailouts worth hundreds of billions of euros.
In 2009 the Commission held away-days for officials and their families at beach resorts in Papua New Guinea and Ghana. On one occasion a Vietnamese delegation flew 44 staff to the five-star Palm Garden Resort for an event to “facilitate internal co-operation”.
Martin Ehrehauser, Independent Austrian MEP, said: “It is extremely disappointing to see how easily the Commission spends the EU taxpayers’ money – millions of euros – on private jet travel and luxury hotels. This makes the gap between citizens and the EU bureaucracy even bigger and deeper.”
Iain Overton, editor of the Bureau, said: “Our findings raise questions not just about taxpayers’ money being wasted, but also about how accountable the EU Commission is for its spending.”
The EU Commission is made up of 27 Commissioners, one from each of the member states, and about 25,000 European civil servants. It acts as the EU’s cabinet and some of its main purposes are to implement legislation for Europe and the day to day running of the Union and its funding programs. The Commission sits in Brussels, and is entirely funded by the EU taxpayer.
The Commission’s rules on spendings can be seen here.
This article was initially published at thebureauinvestigates.com