Chris Davies, a Liberal Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the North-West of the UK, is a member of the Budget Control Committee of the European Parliament. As he told BBC’s Today Programme (listen here), he discovered, quite by chance, that Parliament’s auditors had made a report detailing abuses on a vast scale, abuses that suggest some MEPs are simply plundering the system to enrich themselves.
Notwithstanding that he is a member of the Budget Control Committee, Mr. Davies was only allowed to see the report on condition that he signed all sorts of confidentiality agreements, read the report in a sealed “secret room”, protected by biometric locks and security guards and neither made a copy of nor took notes of the report.
Mr. Davies said the report contained accounts of abuse – let’s call a spade a spade here and call it theft and fraud – on a truly shocking scale. Though individuals were not named he made it clear that the extent of the embezzlement and fraud was on such a scale that it could only be met with condign prison sentences for some of those engaged in such practices.
OLAF, the EU Fraud Squad, had not yet heard of this report which makes one wonder if attempts are being made to bury it so as not to rock the boat and to conceal from the European people the extent to which MEPs are looting the public purse for their own enrichment.
Davies made a number of politically rather incorrect statements about where he reckons the worst offenders come from and it is not from the UK, Scandinavia, The Netherlands.
So widespread is the abuse that the AVERAGE amount being nicked is £125,000 ($245,000, €166,000) for each one of the Parliament’s 785 MEPs. So bad is the situation that Hans-Gert Pöttering, its president, and a group of senior MEPs are desperately trying to find ways to ensure that there was no “collateral damage” from the report (which presumably means trying to ensure that their heads do not roll as a result of their failure to act in the matter which would thus have the effect of removing them from the gravy train). The excuse being given for this exercise is laughable:
“We want reform but we cannot make this report available to the public if we want people to vote in the European elections next year.”
Some might think that publication would actually increase turnout at these elections when the people of Europe realise just why all these largely Europhile MEPs love the European Union and its Parliament so much. Perhaps then they might turn to some more Eurosceptic politicians of their own, less inclined to view the European Parliament as a milch cow upon whose hind teat they can fasten. That, one suspects, is what the source really meant: “We are frightened for our own place on the gravy train”.
Even more laughable is the explanation that the document is not being kept secret as such, merely confidential, a circumlocution that is both worthy of Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes Minister and Orwellian:
“The document is not secret. It is confidential. It can be read by Euro-MPs on the budget control committee, in the secret room but not generally. That is not the same as a secret document nobody can read.”
So that is all right then.
What is clear, though, is that the public interest demands that this document be published forthwith so that the people who pay for all this, Europe’s Taxpayers, can see what is going on.