The European Parliament has an important role in the government of the union, but its enduring reluctance to deal with its warranted reputation as a gravy train damages its standing and emboldens Eurosceptics across the continent.
As the Irish Examiner revealed yesterday, the outgoing Cork MEP Brian Crowley — whose health condition has prevented him from attending the parliament since the last election, in 2014 — will be entitled to severance payments of more than €350,000 and a €1.4m pension package.
This is but one example of the munificent remuneration terms MEPs have been content to accept, and it ought to be of interest in countries — such as ours — in which the gap between what is paid as a minimum wage and what is needed as a living wage is
widening. An especially generous item on the list of benefits for MEPs is the reimbursement of two-thirds of their medical expenses. Mr Crowley has declined to tell his employers — his constituents — whether he has taken up this perk, but his reticence hardly comes as a surprise, since the secrecy shielding the expenses regime for MEPs has been condoned by the EU’s court in Luxembourg.
It has upheld the decision of the European Parliament that MEPs do not have to provide invoices and receipts for many of the reimbursements they submit. It’s to be hoped that the MEPs elected later this month will try to see their parcel of pay, perks, and privileges as their employers — that’s all of the rest of us — perceive it.