Eurocrats have dropped plans to debate the EU parliament budget
Senior officials have dropped plans to hold a discussion on 2018 spending commitments in light of a series of controversies over pay and perks afforded to officials.
Brussels has been stung by criticism over its proposals to bankroll a permanent armed guard for the EU parliament president, Antonio Tajani, and to invest in new restaurant and creche facilities.
The plans to boost its budget to an eye watering £1.7bn provoked a strong negative response from the media and voters when they were leaked last month, coming at a time of continuing austerity in many member states.
And now EU sources have told express.co.uk the budget will no longer be debated by MEPs during next month’s plenary season in a clear break with precedent set in recent years.
Tory MEP Richard Ashworth has proposed a series of amendments to bring spending under control
One said: “The suspicion is this is to avoid any discussion of the issues raised recently in the media (president's bodyguards etc) and the fuss made last year over drivers.”
The spending plans were put forward by the EU parliament secretary general Klaus Welle, an unelected eurocrat, who said cash should also be spent on promoting awareness of the 2019 EUropean elections.
Since then elected MEPs have scrambled to water the proposals down, with the Conservatives' Richard Ashworth tabling a series of common sense amendments to bring spending into perspective.
In particular he questioned the need to carry out major renovations to the EU parliament buildings, which are only 25 years old, and said the amount of £28 million earmarked to promote EU elections was “too high”.
Critics have also questioned the need for a permanent, 12-strong armed guard for its president Antonio Tajani – a little known figure outside Brussels – with Mr Ashworth’s report highlighting the threat of cyber attacks instead.
It is understood that a number of senior MEPs are unhappy with the decision to axe the budget debate including Frenchman Jean Arthuis, who is the chairman of the budget committee.
The committee is due to meet this afternoon and the issue is expected to discuss the call, made by the EU parliament’s powerful Conference of Presidents which is made up of the leaders of the political groupings.
The damaging revelations come at a difficult time for Brussels, which has been trying to promote more transparency around decision making in an attempt to reconnect with voters who have become disillusioned with the project.