Cowen earns more than Brown and Merkel despite pay cut
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen is still being paid more than British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- even after his 20pc pay cut.
It comes as a new government report found Mr Cowen and his ministers have until now been paid far more than most of their EU counterparts.
It revealed that pay in a range of EU countries for prime ministers and ministers was "generally speaking, substantially below the rates prevailing in Ireland".
Mr Cowen's official pre-Budget salary of €285,583 was found to be "significantly ahead" of the pay of Mr Brown, Ms Merkel and the prime ministers of Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands. The only leader in the study to have a higher salary was the Austrian chancellor.
Even when the salaries were adjusted to take account of different pay and benefits packages, he was only behind the leaders of Germany and Britain and still "significantly ahead" of those in the Netherlands, Belgium and Finland.
For example, the prime minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen was only paid 75pc of Mr Cowen's salary, despite having a larger population (5.3 million) to govern.
Mr Cowen's current salary of €228,466 is marginally ahead of Ms Merkel's (€228,000) and Mr Brown's (€216,270) even after the pay cut.
The Review Body on Higher level Remuneration found that pay for ministers here was the second highest among the six EU countries surveyed.
Its recommendations for a 20pc pay cut for Mr Cowen and a 15pc pay cut for ministers have been accepted by the Government -- but these cuts include the 10pc voluntary reduction taken by ministers last year.
The review body said it would have recommended a reduction in judges' salaries were it not for the constitutional ban on a reduction in their pay.
The review body ruled out any pay increases for Mr Cowen and his ministers and senior public servants until 2012 at the earliest "in the light of the economic situation".
Meanwhile, former president Mary Robinson has said she will take a 10pc cut in her State pension. The voluntary move will bring her total reduction this year to 20pc.