Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report



Statute for Members of the European Parliament —
Recommendation of the Group of Eminent Persons.

Legal base:
Department: 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
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: 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[10], 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 (£4883);
—  Community taxation for salary and pensions; and
—  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

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Prepared 26 January 2001