Home Brussels European Parliament flouts EU law over staff bank account rules

European Parliament flouts EU law over staff bank account rules

by editor

LONDON — The European Parliament is ignoring EU banking laws by requiring some staffers to open bank accounts in Belgium in order to get paid, according to internal guidelines seen by POLITICO.

Under a 2014 EU directive aimed at ensuring equal access for the finance sector across the eurozone, private sector institutions and public bodies must deliver payments to euro-denominated bank accounts regardless of where they are located in the bloc.

But the Parliament is failing to meet those rules by obliging accredited parliamentary assistants (APAs) working in Brussels to provide a bank account in Belgium to receive their salaries, according to internal advice seen by POLITICO, despite the fact that many have their main homes and financial interests outside of Belgium.

“Accredited parliamentary assistants must open a bank account at their place of employment,” reads the brochure handed out to staff, adding that “the payment of their salaries must be done at a bank located in their place of employment.”

The failure of the EU institution to meet laws that it signed off itself has been slammed by some MEPs.

“It is particularly embarrassing that a major European institution ignores EU law and undermines the Union’s goal to develop a real banking union,” German Green MEP Sven Giegold wrote in a letter to the European Commission in March complaining about the practice.

“The current requirement often creates practical difficulties for APAs when they move to Brussels to take up their duties, hindering their right of free movement,” the MEP wrote to Eric Ducoulombier, head of the Commission’s retail financial services department.

Parliamentary assistants work for MEPs and frequently come from the home country of the lawmaker. Each MEP is entitled to a maximum of three accredited assistants, with some allowed four.

As POLITICO reported in March, the Single Euro Payments Area regulation is still being widely broken by public bodies in various EU countries, in part due to the persistent use of forms that limit the choice of International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) to ones with local prefixes.

In his letter, Giegold drew attention to the widespread lack of adherence but asked the Commission to provide a response specifically addressing the practices at the European Parliament. An aide of Giegold’s told POLITICO he has yet to receive a reply.

Another MEP contacted by POLITICO shared a payroll document pulled from the human resources department of the Parliament on June 8, which confirms the unlawful rule: “APAs can only receive their remunerations into a bank account labelled in euros in the country where he/she carries out his duties,” the form states in a footnote.

The European Commission declined to comment.

In March, a Commission spokesman told POLITICO it was “aware of the fact that many citizens and companies still face refusals of cross-border SEPA credit transfers or direct debits” and was “fully determined to enforce robustly the SEPA rights of our citizens and companies.”

Parliament spokeswoman Delphine Colard said via email that the rules remain in place. She did not respond to a question on the breach of payments regulation, but added that “indeed according to the existing Bureau decision on the [Title VII measures] the sums due to the assistant are paid in euro in the country where the assistant carries out his duties. The Accredited Parliamentary assistants need an account in the country where they carry out their duties.”

“Please note that this situation has been raised by some MEPs in the context of the budget discharge,” which was “currently ongoing,” she said.

The discharge procedure is a form of scrutiny over the financial probity of EU institutions, according to the official website.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Financial Services. From the eurozone, banking union, CMU, and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the Financial Services policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.

Source link

Related Posts