In the current economic climate, parts of Europe’s pay system are coming in for criticism. Brussels has defended its ‘golden parachute’ for former commissioners: The basic monthly salary is around 20,000 euros for a European Commissioner, and they can still receive a portion of that for three years after they have left their post. If they accept a new job which pays less, their European contract tops it up.
A commission spokeswoman answered questions on the provisions: “The Member States are the ones who chose this three-year duration. The Member States set the salaries, the pensions, the indemnities which the European Commissioners receive – like the members of the Court of Justice. It’s the Council’s regulation. We apply the rules.” The British eurosceptic Open Europe think-tank has voiced outrage that former commissioners Franco Frattini and Peter Mandelson would continue to receive sizeable monthly sums even though they quit to go straight into national government cabinet posts. Outgoing commissioners are due 40 to 65 percent of their commissioner’s salary for three years. The chief spokesman at Brussels Berlaymont headquarters said the system helps them “preserve their independence”.