Published On: Wed, Aug 9th, 2017

EU chief spent £70k on Baku trip but Brussels says releasing expenses cost TOO MUCH

Foreign affairs boss Federica Mogherini took a chartered flight to the South Caucasus region – as it emerged Brussels commissioners spent half a million of pounds on travel in just two months at the expense of taxpayers.

Eurocrats had desperately tried to withhold the information, claiming making travel expenses public would create an “excessive administrative burden”.

However, in the first two months of 2016, the European Commission spent close to €500,000 (£450,000) on 261 official trips.

This included Ms Mogherini’s trip to Baku where she used “air taxis”, with the commission arguing they can be used if no commercial flights are available that fit a European Union commissioner’s timetable.

EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker also enjoyed an expensive two-day trip to Rome, which cost €27,000 (£25,000) as revealed by a request from Spanish transparency NGO Access Info.

Nigel Farage, UKIP MEP European Parliament hit out saying the amount of money spent on Jean-Claude Juncker’s private jet, saying it was “outrageous”.

He said: “Juncker spending €27,000 on a private jet at taxpayers’ expense is clearly over the top especially when many normal flights are available.

“I suppose these junket expenses are all part of the make-believe ‘Brexit bill’ which these Commissioners have plucked out of thin air and trying to extort from our government.”

Christos Stylianides, commissioner for humanitarian aid, also spent €11,000 on a series of trips, including trips to Turkey and Somalia.

Brussels have refused to release the travel expenses for the rest of 2016 saying it is already “one of the most controlled organisations in the world” because it submits its spending to the European Parliament and European Court of Auditors.

NGO Access Info has spent three years trying to obtain access to information.

Helen Darbishire, director of Access Info Europe, told Belgian newspaper Knack: “We just ask basic information about how the Commission is using public funds.

Any taxpayer has the right to know how his money is spent.”

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