independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Now we're fuelling Eurocrat gravy train

IT would be funny if wasn't so serious. And outrageous.

We are all aware that a gravy train has been on a continuous circuitous route though the EU ever since the Treaty of Rome was signed by the original six in 1957.

But it may not have occurred to us before that the locomotive has occasionally pulled into Irish stations to expensively refuel.

In fact, the European Commission has spent more than €1m of Irish taxpayers' money on limousines, restaurants, school fees and a range of perks for officials in the past few years.

Irish-based Eurocrats have enjoyed swish parties, meals and subsidised transport as part of a massive spend on luxuries in 2010 and 2011.

All this at a time when the Irish taxpayer has endured brutal austerity in public spending, with even more to come in next week's Budget.

The range of perks has been impressive. They include private school fees, payments towards childcare, transport to work, health screening and language courses.

Close to €30,000 was spent on a BMW for one senior official and €10,000 on a social event in the capital last year.

The €242,000 spent on a UCC study on 'Sex in the Early Modern City: Musical Eroticism in Rome' is a particular eye-grabber.

This is the first time that details of lavish spending by the commission in Ireland have emerged.

It all comes to light after the EU Court of Auditors recently criticised a litany of errors in all EU funding programmes.

The commission had planned to increase its budget to more than €1 trillion – that's €1,000 billion – over the next seven years.

But that has hit roadblocks, due to strong opposition from the Euro-sceptic Tories in the UK.

Now the job of sorting out that tricky budgetary dilemma will fall to Dublin, during Ireland's presidency next year.

And don't even start to ponder what that will cost the European taxpayer.

Irish Independent

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