I had heard rumours on the Brussels grapevine that German broadcaster RTL had done an amusing (but serious) report on the behaviour of European Parliamentarians that involved German Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer running into a wall on the way into a lift in order to escape cameras. The report is now available on Youtube with English subtitles (hat tip: EU Corruption). MEPs signing in at the plenary session in Strasbourg and then leaving straight away is nothing new – it’s just so depressing to see that nothing has changed.

Some of the ‘facts’ in the video about monthly pay have to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially as this whole system is reformed from next year onwards. But equally ask yourself this while watching the clip: when commentators say that ‘pro-Europeans’ must somehow present their case better, how can anyone be motivated to do so when MEPs behave this way? The heavy handed response from EP security staff does not help either and while I know lots of MEPs don’t behave this way the overall picture of the EP in the last 6 months has not been positive…


  1. I got the subtitled one before it was pulled.


    Post with downloadable copy on the link.


  2. @Jo – thanks for the new link… Not sure what’s up here – locations of these videos keeps moving…

    @European Union Law Blog – it would be easy enough to solve. Each MEP has an electeronic card that they use for security purposes. They would just need to swipe this card when they arrived at the plenary chamber and swipe again at the end. Would be simple to do.

    I also agree with you about national parliaments – there are plenty of strange things there too, and as the EP as probably even stranger practices than most national parliaments then it’s understandable that people put it in the spotlight more. But it also shows what happens if you setup a system in the wrong way at the start.

  3. Maybe a solution would be making them sign at the beginning and at the end of the day and only paying them for the hours they actually stayed.

    But I think what’s happening in national parliaments is not much better. Some people are elected and hardly ever show up.

  4. @David – thanks! Annoying the old one has been pulled – the subtitles were handy for an English-speaking audience.

  5. The European Parliament has been disgraceful in its laxity in curbing abuse and overly active in its attempts to cover up the unsavoury or even criminal ways of MEPs.

  6. John, the original link seems to have been pulled.

    Here’s a new one:

  7. Simone

    Ambling through European Parliament corridors with a hidden minicam the size of a big sponge, a slightly disheveled Austrian legislator, Hans-Peter Martin, assembled some of the most revealing information about the perk system.

    Caught on tape was last December’s Socialist group meeting. Also captured were German politicians fleeing Brussels and Strasbourg after signing in for their daily stipends, pictures that caused huge embarrassment when they appeared in the press.

    But that is only the beginning. Martin, 46, a former Der Spiegel journalist, claims to have 1,500 hours of tape.

    article here: http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/05/24/perks_ed3_.php

    I hope we will see more of these 1,500h videos!
    Journalists as MEPs – we should send more of them to Brussels 😉 But personally, i would also take the money. It’s not the “bad, corrupt people”, it’s a bad system…

  8. @Martin – sorry, should have made that clear. I don’t dispute the overall direction of the report at all. My only concern is with the exact way the MEPs’ pay figures were presented, but beyond that I think it’s damning but fair.

  9. Martin Ehrenhauser

    Freedom of Press

    The actual affair behind the story of misbehaviour of the Members of the European Parliament is the fact, that the General Secretary of the EP, Harald Romer, ordered the ejection of the whole press team. This was a material breach of the freedom of press. Because the team was accredited and accompanied by an Austrian Member of European Parliament and so entitled to do what they did.
    But that’s how the “Parliament” in Brussels works and that’s why the EU needs a pro-European critical movement.

  10. No, the two are not linked. The expenses reforms were agreed a couple of years back and will come in after the 2009 elections in any case.

  11. “especially as this whole system is reformed from next year onwards.”

    Is it? Or is it tied in with Lisbon? (Serious question, I don’t know).

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