Three MEPs – linked to a party that has criticised Eurocrats’ “celebrity lifestyle” – pocketed bumper salaries despite taking part in less than half of official European Parliament votes, figures obtained by euronews show.
Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s UKIP, his party colleague Paul Nuttall and former member Godfrey Bloom, have participated in less than 43% of recorded votes, according to data from VoteWatch.
MEPs are paid a monthly salary of €8,000 – the equivalent of €96,000 annually – plus other benefits.
UKIP, predicted to triumph in European elections later this month, launched its campaign with a series of controversial adverts. One claimed hard-working Brits are funding the celebrity lifestyle of a Eurocrat.
The figures reveal Farage has taken part in 42.97% of record votes and Nuttall 42.62.
Their former colleague, Bloom, ejected from the EP in 2010 for calling German MEP Martin Schulz 'an undemocratic fascist', has taken part in just 23% of roll-call votes, while collecting 100% of his salary.
A spokeswoman for UKIP said: “They are the leader and deputy leader of the fastest growing UK political party and therefore spend more time than most MEPs actually back at home working hard for British interests rather than signing in every day and pocketing the free cash.”
But Liberal Democrat MEP for London, Sarah Ludford, criticised UKIP’s record. She said: “The reality is that UKIP MEPs are ones living the celebrity lifestyle, picking up their pay-check while failing to put in the hard graft needed to stand up for British interests in Europe.”
On top of their €96,000 annual salary, MEPs receive a 3.5 percent contributory pension; a general costs budget of €51,588 per year and an annual travel allowance of up to €4,243.
Roll call votes, or recorded votes, represent around 15% of all votes in the European Parliament, and are required on important issues, or where there is not a clear majority.
in addition MEPs having their expenses paid for commuting to and from Brussels.
There is also a flat-rate allowance of €304 to cover accommodation and related costs for each day MEPs are on official business, providing they sign an attendance register. There is an allowance of €152 for meetings outside the EU.
The politicians also have a maximum annual budget of €254,508 for staffing costs, but that money is not paid directly to members.
MEPs’ expenses have been reformed after a series of controversies – a leaked internal report in 2009 revealed 'systematic abuses'. It included payments made to assistants not accredited with the parliament and one MEP who paid a €223,000 staff allowance to one person, understood to be a relative.
Last year a Dutch blog site GeenStijl published a video showing Italian MEP Raffaele Baldassarre being challenged after he was apparently seen checking in at the European Parliament to claim his daily €304 expenses, before leaving immediately afterwards.
The data for voting at the European Parliament, detailed below, shows dozens of MEPs have missed more than a third of recorded polls.
Some, according to officials, have not been able to vote due to health reasons.
A spokesman for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe political grouping told euronews Rikka Pakarinen (on maternity leave), Sonia Alfano (away having an operation) and Brian Crowley (off for a knee/hip replacement lperation) fell into this category.
Health issues hit the voting record of Ciriaco de Mita and Georgios Papastamkos, according to the spokesman of the European People’s Party grouping. He added Lopez Istúriz had participated less because his other political responsibilities had increased.
The spokesman added: “We will not comment on figures provided by private companies, whatever the accuracy they could have.”
Euronews has not listed in the figures below any MEP who has not been in the parliament for the full term, since 2009.