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Indifference & vast expenditure at heart of EU apathy amid parliament vote

Published time: May 25, 2014 11:37
Edited time: May 25, 2014 15:23

People in traditional clothes arrive at a polling station to cast their votes for the European Parliament elections in Hornberg near Freiburg May 25, 2014. (Reuters / Ralph Orlowski)

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The remaining 20 of the EU’s 28 member countries go to the polls on Sunday to vote in the European elections. However, after years of economic crisis and rising unemployment, people have come to question the need for closer integration.

Germany, France, Poland and Spain are among the major European nations voting, while they represent a large portion of the 388 million Europeans eligible to cast ballots and elect the 751 deputies to sit in the European Parliament for the next five years.

Before the elections, opinion polls showed that around 25 percent of the seats would go to anti-EU and protest parties.

Turn-out rates at the elections, a barometer of how engaged the public feels with Europe, are expected to drop once again to just above 40 percent, from 43 percent in 2009. That would continue the trend of declining participation at every European election since the first direct poll was held in 1979.

Locals queue to cast their votes for the European Elections in Barcelona on May 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Quique Garcia)

The turnout rates are boosted by compulsory voting in Luxembourg and Belgium. If an eligible voter does not attend a polling station, he or she could be fined or subject to community service.

The salaries of MEPs have also disillusioned parts of the electorate. Since 2009, MEPs receive a monthly salary of 7,957 euro (US$10,847). They also receive expenses of 4,299 euro a month ($5,860), which they can use to claim travel to Brussels and Strasbourg from their constituencies, while there is a separate travel allowance of 4,243 euro ($5,784), which MEPs can use to pay for trips on official business to other destinations. They can also claim for up to 24 return journeys to their home countries.

“Being an MP is a truly wonderful job,” David Craig, who wrote the book ‘The Great European Rip-off’, told RT’s Peter Oliver. “I calculated with all the expenses that they get paid for example MEP’s will save up from a million to a 1.5 million euros, while living a lifestyle where they can drink champagne every single night and eat the best food and travel first class.”

People walk in front of visuals promoting the European elections in front of the European Parliament in Brussels (Reuters / Eric Vidal)MEPs are also able to claim 304 euro as a daily allowance, just for doing their job and attending parliament. It is intended to cover hotel bills and meals. However it has led to abuses of the system, according to Craig.

“They have a system that's nicknamed the ‘So So’ system. In English it’s known as, ‘Sign on, Sod off’ - all you have to do is sign in for five minutes, then you get your 300 euros for the day and you can do whatever you want.”

However, the largest cost of the European parliament, whose yearly budget weighs in at about 1.7 billion euro ($2.31 billion). In 2009, the cost of each MEP was more than 1 million euro per year, while the parliament employs 700 full-time translators and 430 staff translators to deal with the 23 officials languages of the MEPs. The cost of this equates to around a third of the parliament’s total expenditure. However, the cost of this is covered by the population of the EU, which is around 500 million, and is actually cheaper to the taxpayer than for their national parliaments.

Comments (40)


Anthony Noonan 25.05.2014 23:13

Glad to see that many commentators here realise that the EU is nothing if not a Nazi Institution, a Fourth Reich, and nothing less. Look at the nonsense of this Eurpean Parliament - it is the most expensive talk shop on the planet. It has no powers whatsoever, merely a rubber stamper of legislation, emanating from the unelected European Comission and the unelected executive European Council. So why vote for this Eunuch, it is nothing other than a gravy train for those quisling politicians who have betrayed the peoples and Nation States accross all of Europe. Shame on the B.........! They should hang for their treason!


H. Vermeulen 25.05.2014 20:54

You can see it here in holland, indifference, hate (against america and the eu) 85% of dutch people didnt vote at all. So Russia and OUR President just has to wait until the whole garbagebelt is colliding, and them make their move.


Richard Toibin 25.05.2014 18:43

The only Europeans that vote are those who think we live in a Democracy..

Shows how many can see through the Lie....

The dark power only achieves power through attention so the wise just ignore it....

View all comments (40)
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