Since the founding of the Czech Pirate Party in 2009, we have been striving for greater transparency, especially in the case of public money – whether at the Prague City Hall, in the Chamber of Deputies, or in the European Parliament. As Vice-President of the last named, I have the opportunity to lead this fight on several battlefronts. However, these are mainly two areas: the transparency of public money spending by Members of the European Parliament and the vote in the European Parliament committees.
Each Member of the European Parliament has their own budget to rent the office, buy equipment, or pay for Internet connectivity. For these purposes, there is so-called general expenditure allowance. Each elected representative in the European Parliament has approximately 4 600 EUR per month at their disposal. Altogether, this is almost 39 million EUR for all Members of the European Parliament per year. The European Pirates are one of the few who decided to publish their spending. Unfortunately, in the European Parliament, we are an exception.
I believe that citizens must have the opportunity to see how their resources are spent. Because of that, a few months ago, I described how to set up a transparent bank account in three simple steps. As Members of the European Parliament, we should publish this expenditure. Otherwise, no one knows whether the money is actually spent on renting an office or on vacation in Maldives. And that’s not fair. Transparency International EU agrees with me as well.
Another issue is the voting process in the committees of the European Parliament, which is not nominal. As there is no cryptographic evidence that the votes were correctly counted, Members of the European Parliament cannot verify how their vote was recorded. If Members represent citizens, they must be sure that their position is taken into account – and unfortunately, this is not happening now. At present, we are reliant on trusting a machine that has not undergone a security audit, and to the Secretariat that announces the vote results without the possibility of assigning individual votes to individual Members of the European Parliament. Even voters do not know how their representatives vote at the European level. I find this unacceptable and I have been working for change for a long time. I have succeeded in convincing the Bureau of European Parliament, that remote voting in plenary should be a roll call vote. Therefore, each vote can be assigned to a Member of the European Parliament. I am now trying to do the same at the committee level.
The current delegation of the European Pirates in the European Parliament still have more than three years in office. Among other things, we will pressure for more transparent management of taxpayers’ money, as well as by fighting for more transparent democratic processes. The success of the pressure to publish a vote in the plenary is a small indication that better times are ahead of us. This eventually led to the fact that you too are able to look at the voting of individual Members of the European Parliament.
In addition, we managed to get other allies on our side. Currently, already three Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament already support greater transparency in the spending of public money. Thanks to our constant pressure for consistent transparency in the management of public finances, the European Parliament has already approved the obligation to publish Members’ expenditure from public funds. Now, we are waiting for the decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament. We must continue in gaining allies who will help us to provide greater transparency in Europe.