Pay rises all round on EU gravy train: Extra Â£3,000 a year for MEPs after judges' ruling
By Jason Groves
Last updated at 11:25 PM on 24th November 2010
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Euro-MPs were handed an extraordinary Â£3,000 pay rise yesterday after EU judges ruled in favour of an inflation-busting increase for tens of thousands of Brussels officials. In a controversial ruling, the European Court of Justice rejected a bid by national governments to cancel a 3.7 per cent wage rise for MEPs and EU bureaucrats.
More than 46,000 officials will now receive the pay rise in full, backdated to July 2009. They will also be paid interest on the overdue sum.
What austerity drive? More than 46,000 officials will now receive the 3.7 per cent pay rise in full, backdated to July 2009. They will also be paid interest on the overdue sum
The decision, which will directly benefit the judges who handed down the ruling, prompted outrage last night. Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: â€˜Yet again we see self-serving Eurocrats handing large amounts of our money to other self-serving Eurocrats.
â€˜At a time when we face real austerity at home, there will be lots of folk who see this as yet another reason why we must leave the European Union.â€™ Stephen Booth, of the think-tank Open Europe, said: â€˜This only goes to show how out of touch Brussels is from reality.
â€˜When pay cuts and job losses are the norm across national public sectors â€“ and with Ireland and others on the verge of bankruptcy â€“ EU officials seem to think it is a good time to sue national governments for even more money.â€™More...
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Yesterdayâ€™s ruling followed a bid by national governments to veto last yearâ€™s pay award. In the meantime, officials were awarded just half their promised pay rise. Ministers from several EU states, including Britain, argued the rise was unjustifiable at a time when millions of ordinary workers were facing pay freezes and cuts. But the move was struck out by judges in Luxembourg yesterday.
Although EU rules allow for pay adjustments in cases of â€˜sudden and serious deterioration in the economic and social situationâ€™, judges ruled that this did not apply. European Court judges stand to gain a pay increase of almost Â£8,000 as a result of the 3.7 per cent rise, taking their salary to almost Â£220,000.
Lucrative job: EU president Herman Van Rompuy will pocket a rise of almost Â£12,000
MEPs will see their salaries rise from Â£81,401 to Â£84,412. They already earn significantly more than a Westminster MPâ€™s salary of Â£65,738 and also qualify for lavish expenses and pensions.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy will pocket a rise of almost Â£12,000 on his Â£320,000 salary, which is already twice that paid to David Cameron. Labour quango queen Baroness Ashton â€“ controversially appointed as the EUâ€™s first foreign minister last year â€“ will see her pay rocket by more than Â£11,000 to almost Â£325,000. Most of the officials affected already benefit from a special European level of income tax which starts at just 8 per cent â€“ less than half the basic rate in the UK.
The European Commission has set aside Â£64million to fund the pay rise next year, but this does not include provision for backdating and interest. A spokesman for the European Commission, which brought the case, said the body was â€˜satisfiedâ€™ with the courtâ€™s verdict. The European Court of Justice was asked to rule on the case as the arbiter of EU law, which governs the salaries of EU officials.
Critics last night warned that the ruling would intensify public concern about the EU. The European Commission is already facing criticism for tabling a request for a 6 per cent budget increase and is drawing up plans to levy direct taxes to swell its coffers. A spokesman for the TaxPayersâ€™ Alliance said: â€˜Interfering EU judges are forcing us to fork out for European officials to get an inflation-busting pay rise.
â€˜Theyâ€™re already on decent salaries and benefits â€“ a rise right now is absolutely sickening.â€™