The Express, continuing its campaign to demonise anything and everything EU related, has hit on what it claims is convincing evidence of bad behaviour among those hated Eurocrats. “EU chiefs exposed as cheats, bullies and leadswingers” thunders the headline today, under the by-line of Macer Hall, the paper’s resident seeker-out of any dirt he can get on those in Brussels.
“MORE than 100 European Union officials have been disciplined for fraud, absenteeism and bullying over the last four years, Brussels documents revealed yesterday” he announces triumphantly. Did the revelation happen yesterday? No, of course not, but Express readers have to be fed the impression that they are being fed something better than second-hand news and press releases.
And press releases is the category from which this story has emerged, specifically from David Campbell Bannerman, now a Tory MEP but formerly of UKIP, which latter means he has the approval of the Express. He has obtained information that confirms the “more than 100” figure. So what have the hated Eurocrats been doing to get themselves disciplined, and in some cases sacked?
Some claimed more expenses than they were entitled to. One passed information to the press for money (heck, I bet that doesn’t happen in the UK, eh?). One was caught stealing. Some made false claims in job applications. Others were judged to have harassed colleagues. Campbell Bannerman is clearly unhappy at what he judges to be an overly lenient approach to punishment.
That would be the same David Campbell Bannerman who jumped ship from Tories to UKIP and back, thus showing an interesting definition of party discipline. And what neither he, nor the Express, are telling their readers, is that the number of European Commission officials disciplined over the last four years is actually very small, as there are 23,000 European Civil Servants.
That means less than half of one per cent have misbehaved sufficiently for action to have been necessary (or 0.1% a year). And the MEP makes another unwise assertion: “it’s also troubling that a number of the punishments seem so piffling, especially when contrasted with the harsh treatment of whistleblowers by the Brussels machine”. Heard of Paul van Buitenen, have we, David?
That would be the internal auditor who blew the whistle on the Santer Commission, which ultimately led to its fall, demonstrating the democratic accountability of the Commission to the European Parliament. Van Buitenen returned to work at the Commission, was then given leave of absence while he served as an MEP, and later returned to his job, from which he retired in 2011.
“Harsh treatment”? Bad behaviour? Lame politicians and desperate hacks, more like.