By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Eighteen ‘phantom’ MEPs will do no work for two years
Eighteen “phantom” MEPs will be elected on full pay and perks next month despite not being able to start work for up to two years due to Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
The extra candidates will be chosen in the European Union elections on June 4 despite the agreement, which increases the number of MEPs from 736 to 754, remaining unsigned.
Amid confusion over when and how they will take up their seats, the European Parliament has decided to give the MEPs only “observer” status from next year.
The deal will mean they can draw full salaries and allowances at an annual cost of over £6 million without any legislative duties to carry out.
The 18 MEPs, from 12 EU countries, including Britain’s West Midlands region, will be paid more than £76,000 a year, with staff and office allowances worth £210,000.
They will also be entitled to tax-free allowances of £255 for every day of their limbo existence in Brussels and can claim back business class travel.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: “Welcome to virtual politics, this has to be the political expenses scandal to end all expenses scandals.
“The perfect politician for today’s elite, one that takes wages and does no work at all.”
Ireland votes again on the Lisbon Treaty this autumn with the intention that it can enter into force from Jan 2010
Richard Corbett, the Labour MEP who guided the Lisbon Treaty through the European Parliament, defended the arrangement to make them “observers”.
“This is straightforward and there is no need to make a fuss,” he said.
Spain has argued that there would be an “imbalance” between the EU institutions if the 18 MEPs could not take their seats until the end of the new parliament in 2014 due to Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon EU Treaty.
“We intend to put forward a text which says that the extra 18 MEPs from 12 countries should take their seats as soon as the Lisbon Treaty enters into force,” said Diego López Garrido, Spain’s minister of state for European affairs.
Timothy Kirkhope, leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, said. “If the EU is to have democratic legitimacy, we should respect the decision of the Irish, and our Labour government should honour its manifesto commitment to hold a referendum. If they won’t, we will.”
Wise Up Journal
MEPs have as much power as employees of a business have with a suggestion box. The only directly elected members for the EU, MEPs, have no authority to propose or amend laws. They can only make suggestions to amend laws and their votes in parliament are just a show, they’re votes are not legally binding. In a western democracy people have the freedom to enjoy the illusion at election time.