Does anyone fancy an EU taxpayer-funded trip to sample some Belgian waffles?

An interesting story grabbed our attention this morning, namely that MEPs have been spending millions of taxpayer pounds on “study trips” to Brussels and Strasbourg for their party activists. These trips, which are eligible for generous EU subsidies, feature in a rather harrowing recent review of the European Parliament’s £1.3 billion-a-year spending by its Committee on Budgetary Control.

Amazingly these subsidies don’t require receipts, so there’s little accountability of where the EU taxpayers' cash has actually disappeared to. The condition for these trips, for which travel and accommodation can be reclaimed, is that participants spend a mere 90 minutes at the European Parliament, leaving them the remaining time to explore the delights of Belgian beer and the Grand Place.

According to the report in the Daily Mail this morning, thirty British MEPs claimed for these trips in the first seven months after they were elected in May 2014 – at a total cost of £149,324 for 863 visitors, which works out at just over £173 per person. This, along with other questionable spending choices highlighted by the Committee, has been condemned by auditors as risking the reputation of the Parliament, especially due to the lack of a paper trail when it comes to reclaiming the funds.

Meanwhile in the European Parliament MEPs have been complaining about the lack of mineral water in their meeting rooms and spending over £700,000 on an awards ceremony celebrating pro-EU films. It really does beggar belief, and it’s about time MEPs learned that the money we hand over doesn’t grow on trees; it’s taken out of the pockets of taxpayers across Europe who expect it to be spent reasonably, sensibly and proportionally, not on whimsical cross-European jollies for party faithfuls and friends.