A German MEP and one of the European Parliament’s vice presidents has come under fire following the leak of a report which shows he spent close to €700,000 of European taxpayers’ money on luxurious office refurbishments.
Rainer Wieland of the Christian Democrats (CDU) party — who is responsible for the internal management of the European Parliament’s buildings — spent €486,011 on his new office and €134,774 on an adjoining showroom, which Wieland has insisted can be used freely by any member of parliament.
In a leaked report seen by British newspaper, The Guardian, Wieland spent €35,000 demolishing his original office; splashed out €25,000 on bespoke doors; paid €15,000 for another door and signed off on a €58,000 bill for furnishings.
In addition, €11,000 was spent on electronic locks; €3,500 on a table, and an eye-watering €25,000 on “a ceiling light that looks like a window.”
“Looking at this from the perspective of a budget controller, I find it very difficult to justify that kind of expense to the EU taxpayer,” commented fellow countryman Daniel Freund, a German Green MEP who is responsible for overseeing parliamentary spending.
“I am conscious as well that these are bad stereotypes, that there is a perception that the European Parliament is expensive… We need to be very conscious of how we spend taxpayer money, and this project is not a great example of that,” he added.
Following a request for comment from the British newspaper, Wieland defended the cost, calling the refurbishment an “ideas lab” where plans for the potential renovation of other MEPs’ offices were tested, and assured that it would save money in the long term.
“We believe that normal keys are not appropriate anymore… Keys are lost,” Wieland responded to the hefty bill for electronic locks, and insisted the astronomical light fittings cost was necessary: “If you have high-quality cameras for high-quality communication, then you need high-quality lights.”