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MEP Michael Gehler asking question in the European Parliament about the 60K grant for the wife of the PES president

Six department heads in the European Parliament have formed an “independent panel” to decide to whom to give money from European taxpayers’ pockets. Among the distributed tens of millions, 60,000 euros were allocated to the mother of the child of the President of the Party of European Socialists (PES). And for what else but to promote the European elections in which PES is a major player? The businesswoman signed a declaration that she was not in conflict of interest and the money started flowing in the account of her sole-owner company.

Two years later, the plot, dug out by media, emerged. The Administration of the European Parliament remains unflustered and insists with conviction that all is fine: the procedures have been complied with and there is no conflict of interest. Spouses of politicians may exercise any profession they want, states the justification sent to media.

For years politicians are telling us that there were rules in Europe and that we had to learn to live by these rules in order to become full-pledged Europeans. It is true; there are written rules. There is a Financial Regulation and its Article 57 defines what constitutes conflict of interest:

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“…a conflict of interests exists where the impartial and objective exercise of the functions of a financial actor or other person … is compromised for reasons involving family, emotional life, political or national affinity, economic interest or any other shared interest with a recipient.”

Complex formulation, but a precise one – a financial actor (paragraph 1) is the one who has the cake and eats it too. The definition is the following: “persons involved in budget implementation and management, including acts preparatory thereto, audit or control.”

PES is a major party in the European Parliament. MEPs from this fraction are actively involved in the preparation and voting on the budget, and then in its implementation – they receive salaries and spending allowances from the same budget. PES, itself, also gets financing – up to 85 % of all eligible costs Sergei Stanishev, in his capacity as president of PES, receives funding from the budget as well.

A systemic problem

It is a undisputed fact that as a financial actor Sergei Stanishev has “reasons involving family and emotional life” that taint the grant received by his wife Monica Stanisheva. If we stick to the texts, there is conflict of interest. German MEPs say it in plenary hall and are seeking an explanation from the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who for the time being remains silent. Heads of EP directorates, who broke the rules by not exercising control, are also in the crosshairs.

In the past, the European Parliament has imposed budget sanctions on various European agencies for which the European Court of Auditors has established conflicts of interest. However, European legislators are so confident in their own dogma of infallibility that they have not provided a control body for their own institution in cases of suspected conflict of interest. In the European Parliament there is no ethics committee to deal with such cases and to roll the rotting Euro-heads. Until that changes, the conclaves of directors will continue to safely gather together; to comply with their own written procedures, and to shower with money spouses of politicians.

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