European Court Mandates Disclosure of Expense Claims by Convicted MEP

Sarhan Basem
credit: icij

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – The EU court mandates the disclosure of payment claims by convicted MEP Ioannis Lagos, aiming to enhance accountability and public scrutiny regarding the use of public funds.

The European Parliament has been instructed to publish details of payment claims made by Golden Dawn MEP Ioannis Lagos, who continued to declare a salary and expenses even after being convicted to 13 years in jail. This decision was made in reaction to a request for information to enhance public scrutiny and accountability regarding Lagos’ access to public funds. 

Activists have greeted this ruling, emphasizing the absence of accountability when public funds are made available to sentenced criminals. The hope is for a shift in culture and greater openness in the future, as MEPs are elected delegates and accountability should be a given.

Are Convicted MEPs Transparent About Public Fund Usage?

Lagos had access to over €100,000 in budgets during the seven-month period between his conviction and the Parliament deciding to lift his immunity. This raised concerns as Lagos had reportedly contemplated fleeing the EU to evade justice, potentially exploiting taxpayer-funded travel expenses. The ruling comes amid growing scrutiny of far-right MEPs, with police recently exploring the offices of Maximilian Krah, a major candidate for Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland party, following the detention of his assistant for alleged spying for China.

A report by Transparency International underscored the large earnings outside of official salary and subsidies that MEPs can make from holding second positions under current Parliament rules. The case of Ioannis Lagos underscores the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding the usage of public funds by MEPs. 

The ruling to publicise expense claims aims to address this issue and provide enhanced public scrutiny. Activists view this conclusion as a step in the right direction towards maintaining elected representatives accountable for their steps, particularly in cases involving convicted criminals. The hope is for a shift in the culture of the European Parliament to encourage greater openness and accountability.

The continued scrutiny of far-right MEPs, such as Maximilian Krah, further emphasizes the need for transparency in the use of public funds and commitmentto ethical standards by elected officials. The search of Krah’s offices and the detention of his assistant for alleged spying for China illustrate the potential risks linked with unethical behavior by MEPs. 

How Can Transparency International’s Report Shape MEP Accountability?

The information by Transparency International highlights the significant earnings that MEPs can drive from secondary positions, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the need for stricter ethical guidelines.

Moving forward, it is crucial for the European Parliament to ensure the implementation of the ruling to publicise expense claims and uphold transparency in the use of public funds by MEPs. This decision observes a step towards greater accountability and scrutiny of elected officials, particularly in cases concerning criminal convictions. The hope is that this ruling will lead to a transformation in the culture of the European Parliament, promoting greater honesty and ethical behavior among MEPs. Ultimately, the goal is to restore public trust in the integrity and accountability of elected representatives within the EU.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.