Daniel Freund

13. October 2021 Anti-Corruption

TI study on outside incomes: 29 MEPs earn more outside than through mandate

27% of MEPs have a significant amount of extra income in addition to their political mandate (35.5 % in the old German Bundestag). For 23 MEPs, this income has even increased in the course of the legislative period. This is the result of an evaluation of the declarations of financial interests by the NGO Transparency International.

  • Right wing extremists (ID) and Christian-Democrats (EPP) with the highest number of supplementary income earners: 38% of the MEPs of the right-wing ID group have declared supplementary income to the European Parliament. The GUE/Left group has the lowest percentage of supplementary income with 10%. Among the German MEPs, Engin Eroglu (Free Voters/Renew) reported the highest supplementary income (at least 72,048 EUR p.a.).
  • 29 MEPs earn more in their “side job” than in their mandate: The risk of conflicts of interest increases with the amount of side income. 29 MEPs potentially* earn more money from side jobs than from their parliamentary allowances. The top sideline earners in the European Parliament together take in at least three million euros per year. The absolute front-runner is the Polish EPP MEP Radoslaw Sikorski (at least 588,048 EUR p.a.).
  • Vague information on employers – insufficient control: Around 15% of the additional earners have declared sources of income with only little informative value (e.g. “economic activity”, “contractor”, “irregular consultancy”). The services actually rendered are therefore not recognisable. Whether a conflict of interest exists cannot be traced. Moreover, the rules are supervised by the President of the Parliament, who himself belongs to one of the political groups in the European Parliament.


MEP Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA), rapporteur for an independent ethics body in the EU institutions, comments:

“Significant side income of elected MEPs always brings with it the risk of conflicts of interest. Where the side income itself significantly exceeds the parliamentary allowance, the question arises as to what the side job is. Incomprehensible information on sources of income clearly shows the gaps in transparency in the European Parliament. With the current system of self-regulation, potential conflicts of interest of MEPs cannot be eliminated. The study shows: we finally need an independent control body. The Commission’s answer to the Parliament’s vote must be a body with teeth.”


More info in the study by Transparency International: https://transparency.eu/burning-candle-mep-income/


European Parliament resolution of 16 September 2021 on strengthening transparency and integrity in the EU institutions by setting up an independent EU ethics body: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0396_EN.html


Our commentary on the EP vote for an independent EU ethics body: https://danielfreund.eu/european-parliament-supports-eu-ethics-body/?lang=en

*In an earlier version of this post I have stated that “At least 29 MEPs would make more money with their side incomes.” I am sorry about that mistake.