Ashton’s army of EU foreign service drivers earn equivalent of MP’s salary and drive 30,000 miles without passengers
An answer to a detailed question put forward by Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis revealed the massive cost of chauffeuring EU diplomats posted abroad.
In her answer to Mrs. Yannakoudakis’ question, EU foreign affairs supremo Baroness Ashton, herself paid over £250,000 a year, revealed that one of the European External Action Service’s drivers was paid €6,050 (£5,190) a month before allowances. This makes an annual salary of £62,280, which is almost the same as a British Member of Parliament and nearly two-and-a-half times the average UK salary.
Ashton also revealed the size of the EU’s army of overseas chauffeurs with 484 drivers employed in 141 EU “embassies” and by 12 EU Special Representatives, making around 4 drivers for each diplomatic mission.
Mrs. Yannakoudakis also asked about chauffeurs being ordered to drive across country to meet EU diplomats and visiting officials who were travelling by plane or train. In 2012 alone drivers clocked up 48,400 km (30,070 miles) driving empty vehicles. Although the EU claims that preventing dangerous climate change as a strategic priority, this is equivalent to 5.4 tonnes of CO2.
Ashton also revealed that EEAS drivers worked 110,000 hours of overtime and that the EEAS had paid up to €213,000 (£182,695) for armoured vehicles and €49,050 (£42,000) for normal vehicles; the equivalent of a top-of-the-range BMW 5 series.
Mrs. Yannakoudakis also exposed the fact that the EEAS was regularly breaking its own rules on the size of car which could be purchased. 12 exemptions or “derogations” were granted in 2012. Among the reasons the EEAS listed for waiving the rules was “non-availability of cars within the maximum cylinder capacity.”
Marina Yannakoudakis MEP said: “The EEAS was meant to be budget neutral, yet this year Baroness Ashton has asked for £20 million more to run her expensive, inefficient and unproductive diplomatic service.
“Last month the British Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office would need to make savings of 6%. The European Union and Baroness Ashton should be expected to do the same.
“4 drivers per EU embassy is unwarranted. Salaries of over £60,000 are unreasonable and an army of chauffeurs driving empty cars and spitting out tonnes of CO2 makes a sham of the EU’s commitment to reduce climate change.
“The EEAS needs to get its house in order all the way from its drivers to the Baroness herself. If we are to have an EU diplomatic service, it needs to offer taxpayers good value for money.”
For the full text of Mrs. Yannakoudakis’ question and Baroness Ashton’s answer can be found here.