They came to teach Greeks financial discipline and expenditure cuts. A Spartan way of life. However the ladies and gentlemen from the European Union Commission under the chairmanship of Portuguese J. M. Barroso live a live in luxury with expensive cocktail parties, private jets, luxurious away-days with spa and foam baths, limousines, wine and golf, orchestras and banquets, and expensive gifts to their guests. AAaaaah, yes, taking decisions for so many millions of European citizens – see: taxpayers- is a hard work. The ladies sand gentlemen need a good life. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK-based non-for-profit organisation, uncovered the full expenditures of the 27 EU commissioners, where the President José Manuel Barroso’s office hits the top. Of course, he is the president! He racked up a €249,000 bill for private jets during the same period he attended the 2009 UN convention on climate change.
Barroso’s jet bill for the nine-month period is just a small part of €7.5m worth of trips on private jets chartered by EU commissioners over the last five years. The bureau found that Barroso and 35 others spent €28,000 at the luxury Peninsula New York hotel during the visit to the UN climate change convention.
The research also uncovered public money being used to fund a €75,000 cocktail party at a science conference – Discovery 09 – which was “filled with wonder like no other … with trendy cocktails, surprising performances and top DJs”, as much of the EU was in the grip of recession.
The commission funded €300,000 worth of events described in internal documents as cocktail parties in the same year. At least a further €1.2m was spent on hotel and conference costs in 2009, including stays in San Diego, Prague and Balmoral.
An additional €20,000 was spent on gifts for commission guest speakers since 2008, including cuff-links, fountain pens and Tiffany jewellery.
The study also showed the continued lack of transparency in how the commission spends its money. More than €42m of transfers to “natural persons” – individuals, whose names the commission keeps private – were found between 2007 and 2009, though these had fallen from €27m in 2008 to just over €1m in 2009.
The EU Commission is made up of 27 Commissioners, one from each of the member states, and about 25,000 European civil servants. It acts as the EU’s cabinet and some of its main purposes are to implement legislation for Europe and the day to day running of the Union and its funding programs.
The Commission sits in Brussels, and is entirely funded by the EU taxpayer.