2017-05-31

In an unprecedented EU-wide collaborative effort, the journalists from "The MEPs Project" located in every member state investigated how members of the European Parliament (MEPs) make use of the general expenses payments they receive every month. 

Each MEP gets 4 342 euros every month, mainly to fund an office in his constituency. But offices for 249 MEPs do not exist or seem nowhere to be found, our investigation shows. So far, only  133 out of the 748 current parliamentarians told us what they pay in office rent. We found at least 42 cases where MEPs pay rent to national political parties or even to their own personal accounts.
 
As the EU parliament does not audit the use of these expense payments, there is no documentation available for how the funding is used. And, according to the research, neither the existence of MEPs’ national offices nor certain conditions of their funding are monitored by the parliament.
 
Our reporters requested information from all MEPs and analysed documents from the parliament, land registries and other sources. For the first time ever, journalists shed light on who owns MEPs' offices across the European Union.
 
In a considerable number of cases, it seems to be unclear what use the MEPs make of their expense payments. And it is equally uncertain as to whether they are actually used for their intended purpose. This seems to contradict the long-held claim of the EU parliament – that MEPs should attempt to bridge the gap between Brussels and EU citizens.
There are no controls in place to ensure that MEPs return those expense payments that remain unused for parliamentary work. Some of them do this voluntarily at the end of their mandate.
 
Journalismfund.eu financed some of the freelancers on this project. In total, 48 journalists were involved in all 28 Member states.

 

Delphine Reuter

Delphine Reuter is a Belgian freelance journalist, based in Brussels.

Crina Boros

Crina Boros is a London-based, award-winning, freelance data-driven investigative reporter and an international journalism trainer.

Staffan Dahllöf

Staffan Dahllöf (1955) is a freelance reporter based in Copenhagen (Denmark).

Atanas Tchobanov

Atanas Tchobanov is co-founder of the Bulgarian investigative website Bivol.bg, exposing the State-Mafia nexus in Bulgaria.

Pavla Holcová

Pavla Holcová is an investigative journalist and founder of investiace.cz, based in Prague.

Guia Baggi

Guia Baggi is co-founder of the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI), a nonprofit centre for investigative journalism based in Italy.

Tevye Markson

Tevye Markson is a British freelance journalist with an interest in social and environmental issues, international politics and global underground music cultures.

Katalin Erdelyi

Katalin Erdelyi (1982) is a Hungarian journalist at Atlatszo.

Balázs Tóth

Balázs Tóth PhD (1979) works for the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, atlatszo.hu and also as a private attorney.

Lorenzo Di Pietro

Lorenzo Di Pietro is a Rome-based investigative journalist with a data-driven approach.

Ana Poenariu

Ana Poenariu is a Romanian journalist, based in Bucharest.

Supported
Grant of €11,900, allocated on 01/02/2017
ID
JF/JA2A/2017/372

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