How can the EU Parliament be more transparent and spend less money?
Pirates in the European Parliament managed to gather a majority to support strong calls on the Parliament to be a more transparent and economical public institution. However, more needs to be done.
As an active member of the Budgetary Control Committee, I have scrutinized the institutions' spendings and drafted clear political recommendations, through the discharge resolutions, to better spend European taxpayers money.
Especially in the context of a global pandemic and the grave economic crisis that will follow as a consequence, the EU should make sure to avoid any misuse of funds and to distribute EU subsidies to those that need it the most.
Most importantly, we should have a single seat for the European Parliament. At the moment, the Parliament uses several buildings in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, forcing thousands of staff, Members and official cars to travel between these locations every week. In addition to being time consuming and ineffective, the European Court of Justice estimates the costs of having several Parliamentary seats to more EUR 114 million per year. This is no longer sustainable financially and environmentally.
To improve transparency and accountability, all Members of the European Parliament should use their general expenditure allowance only for work-related activities. They should keep all receipts to allow controls from independent auditors and should return the unspent share of this allowance at the end of their mandate. It is currently only possible to publish voluntary audits. This is of course insufficient, so we will continue to advocate for mandatory publication of all work-related expenses. You can find Pirate expenses here.
We also managed to push for new rules concerning the publication of information on meetings held between Members of the European Parliament and interested representatives, such as lobbies. This public data will now have to be accessible in an open and machine-readable format to enhance transparency. It will also be linked to the Transparency Register, which lists all companies and organisations advancing their interests towards EU lawmakers. Although it remains only voluntary, we believe all Members should be obliged to tell citizens whom there are meeting in the remits of their work.
Overall, the EU Parliament is moving towards more digitalisation by promoting a paperless administration. We are, however, calling for more digital tools to be developed, such as videoconference tools and decentralised cloud storages, in order to ensure effectivity of essential legislative work, especially in the context of a global pandemic when social distancing is required. This would also help protect the environment and save resources. In the 21st century, elected representatives of Europeans should be able to work from anywhere in Europe.