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Lalith Kishore || ""
Lalith Kishore
1 October 2023
Beneficiaries of a luxurious top-up pension fund used by hundreds of politicians are set for a court battle with the European Parliament. Fund members are readying a class action lawsuit against the institution’s decision last month to slash payouts from the lavish scheme in an effort to stave off a looming bankruptcy and growing public criticism.
Beneficiaries of a luxurious top-up pension fund used by hundreds of politicians are set for a court battle with the European Parliament. Fund members are readying a class action lawsuit against the institution’s decision last month to slash payouts from the lavish scheme in an effort to stave off a looming bankruptcy and growing public criticism. Investigate Europe reported in May that there was a €300 million deficit in the European Parliament’s voluntary pension fund, a little-known scheme used by around 900 past and present MEPs, including Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. After years of inaction the Bureau of the European Parliament, the body responsible for internal affairs, finally took action amid the mounting scrutiny. They formally agreed on 12 June to reduce payouts from the scheme by 50 per cent, freeze inflation-linked increases and raise the retirement age from 65 to 67. The parliament said the measures could wipe out most of the deficit and put it on a “more sustainable path”.
They intend to rely on the arguments of a European Court of Justice ruling in March 2023, which rejected an appeal by former French conservative MEP Françoise Grossetête against other changes to the fund.  However, the judges stated that cutting pensions were legally admissible in cases of insolvency “provided that the principle of proportionality is respected”. Moreover, they added that it was always necessary to “balance the interests involved”. In other words, it is important to take account of other remunerations, in particular the statutory pension.  “The Bureau decision was prepared with Parliament’s legal service and was grounded in the General Court decision from March,” a spokesperson for European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said. “We are confident that the decision is solid, but it is of course a right enshrined in the treaties for an individual to contest a decision that affects him or her.”
Beneficiaries of a luxurious top-up pension fund

Beneficiaries of a luxurious top-up pension fund

A parliamentary source said the pension fund changes, which came into force on 1 July, represented a medium risk scenario for the bureau given that they include not only a reduction in payouts but additional cutbacks. German Green MEP Daniel Freund, a former rapporteur on the EP budget and an outspoken critic of the fund, believes the decision is legally sound. “But you never know what the European Court of Justice is going to say at the end.” Hughes says the decision to slash the pension payouts is at odds with the principles laid down by the court in its March ruling. “The Bureau of the European Parliament, which hastened the decision after the recent media uproar, is well aware of this,” he said. He believes Metsola has played a political game with the pension fund. He says that the primary objective was to avoid a potential scandal ahead of European elections in June 2024, which would have further undermined the institution’s reputation, already damaged by the Qatargate corruption crisis.

If the judgment is in our favour, they will be compensated, but if they lose, they could have to cover the costs of the trial.

MEP Stephen Hughes

“The Bureau decision was prepared with Parliament’s legal service and was grounded in the General Court decision from March,” a spokesperson for European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said. “We are confident that the decision is solid, but it is of course a right enshrined in the treaties for an individual to contest a decision that affects him or her.” A parliamentary source said the pension fund changes, which came into force on 1 July, represented a medium risk scenario for the bureau given that they include not only a reduction in payouts but additional cutbacks. German Green MEP Daniel Freund, a former rapporteur on the EP budget and an outspoken critic of the fund, believes the decision is legally sound. “But you never know what the European Court of Justice is going to say at the end.” Hughes says the decision to slash the pension payouts is at odds with the principles laid down by the court in its March ruling. “The Bureau of the European Parliament, which hastened the decision after the recent media uproar, is well aware of this,” he said.
Journalists at the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), France’s leading Sunday newspaper, have also suffered a radical change of regime. In the spring, Vivendi, owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, got the go-ahead to buy the publishing giant Lagardère, including the JDD. Bolloré publicly denies any political interest. But as with his acquisitions of CNews in 2016 and the magazine Paris Match last year, the buy-out was followed by a sharp turn in the editorial orientation of the JDD.
The editor-in-chief soon departed and the far-right journalist Geoffrey Lejeune took his place. At first, the entire staff went on strike, claiming Lejeune was responsible for "despicable" and "racist" articles in his previous position at Valeurs Actuelles, a magazine which had drifted from right-wing to far-right positions. His appointment, according to the striking staff, was driving away readers and "endangering the newspaper".

Journalists at the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), France’s leading Sunday newspaper, have also suffered a radical change of regime. In the spring, Vivendi, owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, got the go-ahead to buy the publishing giant Lagardère, including the JDD. Bolloré publicly denies any political interest. But as with his acquisitions of CNews in 2016 and the magazine Paris Match last year, the buy-out was followed by a sharp turn in the editorial orientation of the JDD.

The editor-in-chief soon departed and the far-right journalist Geoffrey Lejeune took his place. At first, the entire staff went on strike, claiming Lejeune was responsible for "despicable" and "racist" articles in his previous position at Valeurs Actuelles, a magazine which had drifted from right-wing to far-right positions. His appointment, according to the striking staff, was driving away readers and "endangering the newspaper".
Beneficiaries of a luxurious top-up pension fundShutterstock

Journalists at the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), France’s leading Sunday newspaper, have also suffered a radical change of regime. In the spring, Vivendi, owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, got the go-ahead to buy the publishing giant Lagardère, including the JDD. Bolloré publicly denies any political interest. But as with his acquisitions of CNews in 2016 and the magazine Paris Match last year, the buy-out was followed by a sharp turn in the editorial orientation of the JDD.

The editor-in-chief soon departed and the far-right journalist Geoffrey Lejeune took his place. At first, the entire staff went on strike, claiming Lejeune was responsible for "despicable" and "racist" articles in his previous position at Valeurs Actuelles, a magazine which had drifted from right-wing to far-right positions. His appointment, according to the striking staff, was driving away readers and "endangering the newspaper".
Journalists at the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), France’s leading Sunday newspaper, have also suffered a radical change of regime. In the spring, Vivendi, owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, got the go-ahead to buy the publishing giant Lagardère, including the JDD. Bolloré publicly denies any political interest. But as with his acquisitions of CNews in 2016 and the magazine Paris Match last year, the buy-out was followed by a sharp turn in the editorial orientation of the JDD.
Journalists at the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), France’s leading Sunday newspaper, have also suffered a radical change of regime. In the spring, Vivendi, owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, got the go-ahead to buy the publishing giant Lagardère, including the JDD. Bolloré publicly denies any political interest. But as with his acquisitions of CNews in 2016 and the magazine Paris Match last year, the buy-out was followed by a sharp turn in the editorial orientation of the JDD.

The editor-in-chief soon departed and the far-right journalist Geoffrey Lejeune took his place. At first, the entire staff went on strike, claiming Lejeune was responsible for "despicable" and "racist" articles in his previous position at Valeurs Actuelles, a magazine which had drifted from right-wing to far-right positions. His appointment, according to the striking staff, was driving away readers and "endangering the newspaper".

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