Commission criticised over limited expenses disclosure09/08/17Government
The European commission has been criticised for revealing a limited number of its most senior officials’ travel expenses three years after requests for full transparency were first made.
According to the disclosure covering two months of travel costs last year, a mission in the name of Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, was the most expensive trip. It cost €77,118 for her and her aides to travel by air taxi – a privately chartered plane – to summits in Azerbaijan and Armenia between 29 February and 2 March 2016.
A two-day visit by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with a delegation of eight others, to Rome in February 2016 cost €27,000, again due to the chartering of a private plane.
Mina Andreeva, a commission spokeswoman, said the use of air taxis was only allowed where commercial flights were either not available or their flight plans did not fit in with a commissioner’s agenda.
Security concerns would also allow the chartering of a private plane under commission rules.
She said of Juncker’s trip that there had been “no available commercial plane to fit the president’s agenda” in Italy.
Helen Darbishire, founder and director of Access Info Europe, said the organisation was disappointed that three years after seeking disclosure, the number of travel reports was so limited.
Darbishire said: “Initially [the commission] only released the general totals. Later we received data in which the names of the commissioners and the travel dates were blacked out. By then, requesting each commissioner’s data separately, we could obtain more information. For example, at the end of 2016 we received the cost notes of six commissioners from a two-month period in 2015.”
According to the commission, disclosing the travel expenses for the other ten months of 2016 would create an “excessive administrative burden”.