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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Hogan among top EU spenders after bill of €17,000 in two months

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan’s five-day South America trip cost €8,922
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan’s five-day South America trip cost €8,922
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Ireland's European Commissioner Phil Hogan racked up travel and expenses bills of more than €17,000 in just two months.

The former environment minister came eighth out of the EU's 28 commissioners when it comes to spending.

The figures, which have been published after significant resistance from EU officials, show the Commission splashed out more than €500,000 on travel in January and February 2016. The average cost of a trip was €1,880.

Mr Hogan, who is the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, made eight foreign trips during the period.

Most notably he went to Columbia and Mexico for a series of political and trade meetings. He was accompanied by around 35 senior European executives representing key sectors in EU trade.

Mr Hogan's five-day visit to South America cost €8,922, including daily allowances worth €445.

The documents also show he travelled to Berlin, Budapest, Paris, Strasbourg and London during the two months.

The ex-Carlow/Kilkenny TD recorded two trips to Ireland but does not appear to have claimed any significant expenses during these excursions.

In January 2016, he addressed the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association in Portlaoise and met with Government ministers at a total "mission cost" of €54.80.

A further trip in February came with a bill of €1,035 - however, this largely consisted of travel agent costs and included a stopover in Paris for meetings.

While Mr Hogan ranks in the top 10 spenders, his bills are moderate compared to some of his colleagues, including EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr Juncker made only six travel expenses claims but they amounted to almost €30,000. This included more than €18,000 to hire a private jet to Rome.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini incurred the largest expenses of €100,749.

More than half of this was spent on a two-day trip to Azerbaijan and Armenia for meetings.

The EU has been accused of trying to hide the information in the wake of a campaign by a group called Access Info Europe, which began in May 2014.

British media have pointed to the expenses regime as a reason why the UK should not pay billions to leave the EU.

A European Commission spokesperson said: "Being a member of the European Commission is a political function.

"Attending events is an integral part of the job. Commissioners are all over the world ambassadors of Europe, also including their home country."

Irish Independent

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