The public is by now familiar with what has become known as the ‘Qatargate’ corruption scandal involving members and staff of the European Parliament, including the arrest of Greek MEP Eva Kaili.

According to one former MEP, who now heads Transparency International EU, the parliament is easily accessible “and has become an attractive ground for all kinds of lobbyists. Because of this, it is relatively easy to operate under the radar and not get caught,” he said.

Well someone has been caught but it remains to be seen how deep it all goes if investigations are not whitewashed and blamed on a few bad apples or an isolated incident.

It’s generally accepted that the point of giving high salaries to people in positions of power is so they won’t feel the need to engage in corrupt practices on the side. But greed knows no bounds and it does not also always have to go hand in hand with corruption.

For instance, MEPs – there are over 700 of them – receive a monthly salary of over €9,000 from which around 38 per cent is deducted in tax, still leaving them pretty well off. They get their air fares reimbursed plus a flat-rate daily allowance of €338 to cover accommodation and related costs for each day they’re in Brussels or Strasbourg on official business.

It’s an open secret that MEPs, including our own, have been known to take the full daily allowance, stay at a cheap hotel and pocket the remainder.

There is another allowance of €4,778 per month for MEPs who set up an office, and for meetings outside the EU, with another daily allowance of €169 and hotel bills refunded separately. They even get a travel allowance for moving around within their own countries.

In addition, MEPs are entitled to a reimbursement of two-thirds of their medical expenses.

Nor does it end there. When their term is up, MEPs are entitled to a ‘transitional allowance’, equivalent to their salary for one month per year they were in office. This runs for two years after their term ends. So if they were in office five years, they get the equivalent of five months salary each year for two years for doing absolutely nothing.

Most egregious however is probably the fact that their salaries are index-linked and in June this year they got a pay hike, applying retroactively from January 2022 to cover the cost of inflation. This was not just for MEPs but also Commission officials and staff.

It’s odd that in the midst of a massive energy crisis caused by the Ukraine war and the resulting sanctions on Russia implemented by the EU itself, that none of these dedicated MEPs and officials opted to forego their pay rise in the interest of solidarity with their constituents – the people who pay their salaries. Instead they’re the ones telling EU citizens every day that sacrifices must be made to get through the current crisis.