Amid all the scandal stories about absurdly generous allowances and shady pension schemes that MEPs get to enjoy, it's good to know that at least some MEPs still want to do the right thing. Like MEP Jens Holm (pictured) of the Swedish Left Party, for instance. At the end of 2008, he asked the European Parliament to give him a statement on the exact amount paid out to him in travel allowances by the EP, since he joined in 2006.
The amount? €158,708 - in less than two years! The outrageous amount owes to the fact that MEPs can claim for travel expenses based on a flat-rate, rather than the documented costs. For air travel, MEPs can claim expenses for an amount equivalent to the 'economy full fare' for the journey to and from Brussels/Strasbourg, regardless of the actual cost of the journey. So in effect this means that an MEP could travel on a low-budget airline, but still claim for the economy fare of a more expensive airline.
Objecting to this system, Jens keeps receipts of all his travel expenses (revolutionary!). Rather than pocketing the difference, like most MEPs do without a second thought, Jens - wait for it - gives the surplus to charities. In total, he donated around €70.000 between 06 and 08 - around half the amount he recieved in travel allowances from the EU.
Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!
Any "reformist" British MEPs feel like priding themselves on turning principle into practice in a similar way?