European Court of Justice Ruled Against MEP Expenses Transparency

The European Parliament is under no obligation to disclose how its elected representatives spend the expense allowances they receive on top of their salaries, the General Court of the European Court of Justice said on Tuesday.

The decision comes three years after a consortium of investigative journalists called “The MEPs Project", asked the EU court to examine the legality of the Parliament’s refusal to hand over information on travel expenses, subsistence allowances, general expenditure allowances, and staffing arrangements expenses. 

The Court recalls first of all that the institutions must refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of privacy and the integrity of the individual, which provision must be implemented in accordance with EU law on the protection of personal data”, is said in the decision. Personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person. “Since all the documents requested contain information concerning identified natural persons (namely MEPs), the mere fact that those personal data are closely linked to public data on those persons does not mean that those data cannot be characterized as personal data”.

Access to documents containing personal data may be granted if the applicant shows that the transfer is necessary and if there is no reason to believe that that transfer could prejudice the legitimate interests of the person concerned. However, “the General Court considers that the first of those two cumulative conditions (the need for the data to be transferred) is not met in the present case”.

Transparency International posted a statement, in which they comment that “Transparency International EU believes that this ruling sets a dangerous precedent and that it is simply indefensible that the European Parliament continues to block transparency on how public money is being spent by elected MEPs”.

Petya Petrova

Petya Petrova is a journalist, believer, and traveler.

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