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The institution’s powerful Bureau committee has told MEPs they will not be able to claim their £300 daily allowances while they are forced to work from home as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the Continent. Many of the politicians, who pocket more than £100,000 in salary and expenses every year, fumed the new rules would have significant ramifications for their personal lives. In a Parliament-wide memo, seen by Express.co.uk, MEPs were informed they would not be able to claim their daily allowances while their recommended to stay away from a pandemic-ravaged Brussels.
The note said: “In view of the alarming situation in relation with the spread of COVID-19, especially in Brussels where currently four percent of the population is infected per month with rising tendency, and in order to minimise health risks for Members, staff and other persons working in the European Parliament, the President decided on October 27, 2020, that meetings of the Parliament’s governing body, the Plenary, ordinary and extraordinary committees and political groups shall be held remotely without physical presence of persons other than the chair, and indispensable staff of the secretariat and technical support.”
“Consequently, the Bureau of the European Parliament decided, via written procedure on October 28, 2020, that the central register of attendance will remain temporarily closed from November 2 to 30, 2020.”
The policy change was implemented in order to encourage MEPs to stay away from the Parliament’s buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg.
During the first wave of the virus, many of the politicians still opted to travel to the Belgian capital in order to physically sign in to claim their lavish expenses.
Witold Waszczykowski, a Polish MEP for the European Conservatives and Reformists Groups, bemoaned the “senseless decision” and vowed to “protest” against EU officials.
Ioannis Lagos, a Greek MEP from the far-right Golden Dawn party, proposed simply continuing the daily allowances while Euro MEPs work from home.
“Maybe you could find a way for MEPs to sign via e-signature or by having the central register in a COVID-19-free place in which overcrowding could be avoided,” he said.
“It is unfair for us to be deprived of the per diems we are entitled to.”
And Finish MEP Nils Torvalds, of the liberal Renew Europe Group, complained some of colleagues would no longer be able to afford their second homes in Brussels.
He said: “The decision of the Bureau infringes upon the rights of the Members.
“We cannot travel to the Parliament… Most of us have an apartment in Brussels leased on a three-year or annual contract.
“We must have the assurances of getting the allowances for the days we, for good reasons, stay in Brussels.”
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Estonian MEP Yana Toom added: “According to Belgian law it is not even possible to terminate the rental contract on such short notice, so we are supposed to maintain two households in any case.
“I find it an absolutely strange decision which doesn’t take into account the real circumstances of real people.”
Markus Ferber, a German MEP for more than 26 years, said the decision is a sign the Parliament is “losing its legitimacy”.
“This damage of the only democratically elected European institution by you is unacceptable,” he added.
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“After serving for more than 26 years as a member of this distinguished house, I never thought that I would witness this self-destruction.”
The daily allowances handed to MEPs costs European taxpayers more than £1 million a week.
The politicans are also given a lump sum General Expenditure allowance of £4,147 every month to cover the cost of their offices on top of their £6,321 salaries.
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