In a recent poll by Survation, respondents were asked to list the first word or phrase that came to mind when seeing the words “European Union.” Only 21% wrote a response that could be considered positive while 39% wrote something negative - words such as bureaucracy, waste and money were all given. And it is no wonder almost twice as many people name something negative when you see the sort of stories that could only come out of the European Parliament.
The Secretary General of the Parliament, Klaus Welle, presented a plan earlier this month arguing that extensive construction was needed at its Brussels headquarters – this is despite the ‘dilapidated’ building only being 22 years old. The refurbishment will look to improve comfort for MEPs, accommodate their ever growing staff numbers, cut waiting times for lifts and expand the day-care centre and playground (for the children, we assume). Mr Welle has a history of exuberant spending of taxpayer’s money. In 2010, The Sunday Times uncovered a plan by Mr Welle to provide state of the art iPad’s to each of the MEPs.
At a time when national budgets, all over Europe, are under strain it seems unbelievably insensitive for an un-elected bureaucrat to propose such a measure. How can the EU preach economic frugality when those at HQ seem so willing to spend money? It should be noted that the Parliament already wastes almost £100,000,000 a year moving to Strasbourg for monthly plenary sessions. And there is a chamber in Luxembourg that has not been used by MEPs since the 80’s and a complex in Strasbourg that is unused for over 300 days a year. Maybe instead of trying to rebuild home, the politicians should look at solutions closer to it.