Long gone are the days of salary differences between Bulgarian and Italian MEPs of up to €9,000/month. When MEPs met in Strasbourg this week for the first plenary of this new European Parliament, for the first time they are all being paid the same – and being paid by the EU.
So what’s the big deal? Well, in most Member States it isn’t a big deal, except perhaps in Sweden, Germany, and the UK. High salaries for politicians are simply not compatible with Sweden’s tradition of equality and are generally frowned upon. To illustrate this, Swedish MEPs will, if they choose to enter into the new salary regime, make a whopping 36% more than a Swedish MP. For instance Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt “only” makes around €11,940/month, while Swedish MEPs will now make around €7,840/month.
In an article published by the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, Swedish MEP Marit Paulsen says “I cannot tell you I’m worth this kind of monthly salary. But at least now it’s taxed and transparent”. This attitude is echoed by Eva-Britt Svensson who says that she only uses part of her salary (the same amount as when she was employed in the Swedish public sector), approximately €2,050/month, and donates the remaining €5,800 to, among other things, women’s shelter organisations. Christian Engström of the Greens has said he will donate part of his salary towards the Pirate Party-movement.
It’s easy to put a positive spin on this, but shouldn’t taxpayers have a say when a politician chooses to systemically donate a significant part of their EU salary (taxpayers money don’t forget) to an outside organisation? If they don’t want to receive the full amount, can’t they give it back to us?!