European Parliament fails to keep COFOE spending a secret

On this blog, we have highlighted the secrecy surrounding the Conference on the Future of Europe several times in the past. For a long time, the European Commission refused to disclose how much it was spending on this. At long last, in December, European Commission vice-President Šuica finally broke the silence, telling MEPs: “As of early October 2021, the total budget contracted by Commission services under contracts specifically signed for the purpose of the Conference is EUR 17.7 million. The budget includes the preparation and implementation of the European Citizens’ Panels, together with an accompanying study (EUR 15.1 million), and the development, management, hosting and moderation of the Multilingual Digital Platform (EUR 2.6 million). (…) The information provided above covers the costs borne by Commission services and does not cover funding provided by the other institutions/co-signatories of the Joint Declaration.” The European Parliament still refuses to disclose how much it is spending. Sadly, this position is backed by a majority of MEPs, who last spring voted against “clarification as soon as possible of the conditions for financing this conference and the consequences for the institution’s budget” and against “a commitment to full transparency on the expenditure of this conference, including the keeping of separate accounts and an audit report by the European Court of Auditors for each year of functioning.” A leak now however reveals that until 31 October 2021, the EP already committed to pay 6.87 million euro for expenses incurred for the purpose of the “Conference on the Future of Europe” or “CoFoE”, while “up to EUR 10 million could be  ledged from Parliament’s 2021 budget and up to EUR 5 millon from Parliaments 2022 budget.” This is documented in a note prepared for the EP Bureau, which also reveals that the EP is busy buying media attention as well – with rather unsuccessful results as the “Parliament’s Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) has awarded a grant to forty media from twenty-one EU Member States”. This includes “12 main press agencies” and “28 multimedia projects”. COFOE spending by the EU Council remains a secret, but these revelations are at least one positive development.

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