41 MEPs paying rent to national political party, investigations yield

A series of investigations across the 28 member states found at least 41 cases where MEPs pay rent to national political parties or to their own personal accounts

Each MEP receives a so-called General Expenditure Allowance intended to provide for national offices
Each MEP receives a so-called General Expenditure Allowance intended to provide for national offices

A series of investigations carried out in all 28 member states revealed at least 41 cases in which MEPs are paying rent to their national political parties or into their own personal accounts.

Each MEP receives a so-called General Expenditure Allowance (GEA), costing the EU around €40 million annually, intended to provide for national offices.

However, a report by Investigative Reporting Denmark, a group of investigative journalists based in Denmark, noted that the offices of 249 MEPs are nowhere to be found, with MEPs declaring that they did not have an office, refused to give the address, or the office could not be found.

This conclusion has lead the group to believe that some of this money may be being misused.

As the EU parliament does not audit the use of these expense payments, there is no documentation available for how the funding is used.

Maltese MEP Alfred Sant, during an explanation of vote in favour of a resolution on the funding of European political parties and foundations at the European Parliament, said that whatever changes or confirmation to rules of current practices must be decided rigorously, transparently and democratically.

Sant said that still an essential component remains national campaigns, through established national parties and foundations.

“My vote on this resolution is qualified by the belief that the financing of pan-European parties through central EU funds needs greater discussion and salience,” he said.

“It should not be carried out on its own but must be linked to a wider consideration of other forms of political financing under EU aegis, including remuneration and operating allowances available to MEPs. The aim would be to achieve the greatest transparency and accountability right through. Otherwise, scandals and suspicions of misuse of funds will continue to prevail.”

Recent and numerous scandals and suspicions of misuse of funds have reopened the debate on the framework for political parties' financing.  

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