STATUTE FOR MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Statute for Members of the European Parliament
Recommendation of the Group of Eminent Persons.
||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 18 December 2000
|Previous Committee Reports:
||HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 2 (15 November 2000); HC 23-xxvii (1999-2000), paragraph 3 (25 October 2000)
|Discussed in Council:
||20 November and 4 December 2000
||For debate in European Standing Committee B, together with ECA Special Report No. 13/2000 (decision reported on 25 October 2000)
2.1 In our Report of 15 November,
we recorded comments by the Minister of State at the Foreign &
Commonwealth Office (Mr Keith Vaz) on the draft Statute which
will lay down the regulations and conditions governing the performance
of their duties by Members of the European Parliament. Since then,
the President of the European Parliament has made a new proposal
and the Minister has provided us with an update.
The Minister's letter
2.2 The Minister says that the President
of the European Parliament has proposed:
a salary for MEPs of 8420 euros per month
Community taxation for salary and pensions;
reimbursement of expenses based on real
costs 'but with no guarantees on implementation'.
2.3 The European Parliament has not voted
formally on the proposal but it was discussed at the 20 November
and 4 December General Affairs Councils and was not found acceptable.
2.4 The Minister notes that he made clear
in the General Affairs Council that the key to any deal was not
just a thorough reform of expenses but also the option of national
taxation for the United Kingdom's MEPs. He believes that the most
logical way forward on salaries is to base these on the average
pay of national MPs in the15 Member States.
2.5 The Government continues to want a Statute
agreed quickly, not least to tighten up the current expenses regime,
but the Minister fears that an agreement is still some way off,
unless the European Parliament shows a greater willingness to
compromise. He recalls that the Nice European Council agreed that
Article 190.5, the legal basis for the Statute, should move to
qualified majority voting. This would make it easier to get agreement
but he says that he hopes agreement will be reached on the Statute
well before the Nice Treaty is ratified. The UK successfully insisted
at Nice on language to ensure unanimity on taxes on MEPs.
2.6 The Minister also notes that it was
agreed at Nice that Article 191 should provide for agreement,
by QMV, on regulations governing European political parties, and
in particular the rules regarding their funding. He comments:
"We welcome this. It will help tighten up on
the present system. The regulations will, at our behest, make
clear that Community funding for political parties at European
level may not be used to fund national political parties."
2.7 The Minister told us in his letter
of 6 November that negotiations between the European Parliament
and the Council on the Statute have been tough. We support the
Government's desire to see agreement reached soon.
2.8 We again confirm the recommendation
we made on 25 October that this document should be debated in
European Standing Committee B, together with the ECA Special Report
on expenditure by European Parliament political groups. The Minister
will have an opportunity during the debate to clarify further
what steps may be taken to bring the negotiations to a conclusion.
10 See (21396) 9560/00 HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph
1 (15 November 2000). Back