McCreevy in spotlight over EU pay

FORMER European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy shot into the spotlight across Europe because he and 16 of his former colleagues were still being paid by Brussels even though they are in new jobs.

German newspaper FT Deutschland broke what it called an exclusive story that Mr McCreevy, despite being paid about €47,000 a year as a non-executive director with Ryanair, was receiving just over €11,000 a month from the EU.

The sum is a transition allowance he is entitled to for three years after leaving his commission post and is 55% of his salary, which was about €20,280 a month.

Mr McCreevy’s old sparring partner, German Gunter Verheugen, is also collecting his transition pay, even though he has founded a lobbying agency, as is the previous fisheries commissioner Maltese national Joe Borg, who is now working for the Brussels lobbying firm, FIPRA.

The current president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite, the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini and Peter Mandelson are also collecting.

The newspaper was particularly critical of former Polish commissioner Danuta Hubner and Belgian Louis Michel, who are MEPs. Normally, the size of their salaries should cancel out the commission payments.

Commission spokesperson Michael Mann said it was normal practice for ex-commissioners to receive a transition allowance. “It was intended to help them retain their independence and take their time before moving into another job.”

Mr McCreevy receives ministerial and TD pensions of €126,960 a year and in four years’ time when he reaches the age of 65 years he will be entitled to a commission pension.

At the time of his appointment to Ryanair in May the commission was investigating seven cases of state-aid involving Ryanair and ruled that the former finance minister must exclude himself from any discussions on any cases he or his officials were involved with.

Commissioners must clear their new positions with the ethics committee and not take up a new job in the private sector for at least six months.

However, Mr McCreevy joined Ryanair within three months of leaving Brussels in February.


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