Open Europe Blog

On his Coulisses de Bruxelles blog yesterday, French journalist Jean Quatremer offered an interesting insight into what Greek MPs earn. In light of Greece’s current economic situation, the figures reported by Libération‘s Brussels correspondent are somewhat disturbing.

Apparently, the net monthly salary of a Greek MP can reach up to €8,500 (yup, you read that right). On top of this, the lucky members of the Greek Vouli are also entitled to:

  • An expenses allowance of €4,900;
  • An allowance of €1,200 for participation in parliamentary committees (but surely, sitting in committees is part of an MP’s job?);
  • An accommodation allowance of €1,000 (for MPs travelling from outside Athens);
  • An office allowance of €1,800;
  • Free transport.

To put these figures into context, according to EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn’s spokesman, the average minimum wage in Greece is €871 a month (still surprisingly higher than Spain, €748, and Portugal, €566, but that’s another issue).

But salaries and allowances are not the only things likely to anger Greek citizens. Since last year, Quatremer notes, the annual income and properties of Greek MPs must be published on the Greek parliament’s website.

For the record, here are some interesting details on the annual earnings of the two top Greek politicians (figures are from 2009 and are also mentioned by Greek newspaper Kathimerini, see here).

George Papandreou (former Prime Minister, leader of socialist PASOK party):

  • An annual gross salary of €122,114
  • Other “miscellaneous revenues” worth €6,926
  • Savings worth €61,379
  • A house in Athens
  • A stock portfolio of €228,000 owned by his wife

Antonis Samaras (leader of centre-right New Democracy party):

  • An annual gross salary of €107,150
  • Other “miscellaneous revenues” worth €110,695
  • Five plots of land and a flat (whose value is not specified)
  • Savings worth €285,467 deposited in a Belgian bank, plus a further €8,952 deposited in a Greek bank
  • 3,500 shares in a ferry company

If we were Greek voters we wouldn’t take much confidence in the fact that leading politicians felt the need to deposit the majority of their savings outside the country.

There is clearly something wrong in a place where ‘normal’ citizens have either been lost their jobs or faced a series of pay cuts over the last two years, while the political class – which certainly bear a good deal of responsibility for the conditions Greece finds itself in – continues to ignore the option of substantially reducing their own salaries. It wouldn’t do a whole lot to solve Greece’s debt problems, but it would still surely be the right thing to do.

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