MEPs act to stifle Media Freedom
Eurofacts 15th April, 2005
Vol 10 No 13
Members of the European Parliament have sought to screen
expenses rip-offs from journalists.
When last year the German
government torpedoed plans to scrap the scandalous system for paying MEPs’
expenses many suggested that once it had found its feet the new European
Parliament would move swiftly to insist on reform - if only to halt the
constant stream of media criticism. Instead,
MEPs have moved swiftly to conceal aspects of the system from media scrutiny.
Leaked papers from the
EP’s ‘questors’ - members of the parliament’s management board - show that the
board is considering measures to prevent journalists filming and taping
particular areas of the EU parliament.
These could include the
area where MEP’s sign on for their daily ‘attendance allowance’ of around £185
- commonly known as the “sign on and sod off” fee, since payment is not
dependent upon participation or attendance at a parliamentary session.
The move follows complaints
by Maps after Austrian MEP Hans Peter Martin, a tireless campaigner against the
present system of pay and expenses for Maps, secretly filmed his colleagues
signing on to receive the allowance.
According to a BBC news
report proposals contained in the leaked documents refer to ‘the need to
respect Maps’ privacy’ and suggest that if journalists break the rules they
could be banned from the European Parliament for between six months and two
years (Source: Today programme 17th March 2005)
Stanbridge, a BBC reporter started to record film of MEPs arriving at the
Parliament building in Brussels at 6pm on a Monday evening for their expenses
for the day following their return from their home countries, security men were
“I was asked for my Press pass
and told that security had been called so the deputies would not be bothered”, she said
“I asked if I could enter the
corridor. I was told absolutely not. Then
I was asked to stop recording.”
Martin has estimated that MEPs can make up to 15,000 euros (£10,435) net out of
the expenses system [An increase of approx £4,000 on our last figure shown
on our bulletin board] which includes a travel allowance, a general
allowance, a staff allowance as well as the daily allowance.
doubt there will soon be a waiting allowance for the time they are spending in
claiming their expenses]
European Parliament is here to stand up and be accountable to the voters seen
through the eyes of journalists, and if the eyes of journalists have been
blinded, the public will not hear what’s going on in this building any more.
That reminds me of other
so-called parliamentary bodies, but up until now they are located in Beijing
and in Moscow, not in Brussels.”
Liberato, director of media and spokesman for the European Parliament
predictably saw matters differently:
of the European Parliament…are discussing some revision of the rules governing
photographers and television crews and sound recording. This is to clarify things: everybody needs to know where it is allowed,
and where it is not, and there seems to be some confusion about it.”
reform package, which would link payments more directly to expenditure and
provide equal pay for all MEPs is likely to come before the full Parliament
next month, but having got through the committee stage by a single vote, its
fate remains uncertain.
the most disturbing aspect of the situation is that what is true of the
Commission is largely true of the EP:
whenever ‘irregularities’ or excesses are revealed the instinct is to
conceal these beneath a veil of secrecy while seeking to stifle or silence
those who speak out about them.
the present case it would seem that measures have been taken even before they
have received parliamentary approval [Does this not remind you of someone
-CLOSE TO HOME?]
a prompt to virtue, eurofacts promises to publish
the names of British MEPs who vote against the reform package and to highlight
all attempts to suppress media freedom.
altered-bolding used -comment
Daniel Hannan - Forming an OPPOSITION
to the EU
WITH THE ONLY PARTY WITH A MANDATE
TO SET YOU
TO RECLAIM YOUR DEMOCRACY DON'T VOTE
FOR THE TRIPARTITE PARTIES IN WESTMINSTER
SMALL PARTIES THAT SPEAK THEIR MINDS
WITHOUT SPIN AND LIES.
Home Rule for
HOME RULE for
[All underlined words have a
THE QUESTION THAT THE VOTER MUST ANSWER
‘DO YOU WISH TO BE GOVERNED BY YOUR OWN PEOPLE, LAW AND CUSTOM OR BY
THE CORRUPT ,EXPENSIVE UNACCOUNTABLE AND ALIEN BUSYBODY BRUSSELS’
-SIMPLE IS IT NOT?
s in brackets]