EUROPEAN COMMISSION president Jean Claude Juncker and a number of colleagues racked up a €27,000 euro (£24,000) expenses bill after ‘hailing’ a charterered private jet for a one-night visit to the Italian capital.
Documents released by the Commission after a two year Freedom of Information battle have revealed that the 28 commissioners ran up a 500,000 euro bill in just two months in 2016, including a number of private ‘air taxi’ jets – which are only supposed to be used when there are no commercial flights with regular airlines available.
According to Brussels Airport, there are up to six daily flights between the Belgium capital, home of the European Commission headquarters and Rome, but Mr Juncker and a nine-person delegation chartered a private jet to Rome on February 25 at a cost of £24,000.
Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said:
The private jet was chartered by Mr Juncker and his delegation because there was no viable commercial plane available that would fit the president’s agenda.
Ms Andreeva also said the flight conditions on the so-called air-taxis were, “hard work” and often included: “Reading documents and marking them. So, I think you would be disappointed as to the overall travelling experience.”
Asked if the cost of the Commission’s air-taxis would form part of the UK’s Brexit divorce bill Ms Andreeva added:
The flights are part of the yearly budget that the Commission has and that is audited and there is an administrative section so it’s within this section that we can spend travel expenses and this is outlined in the yearly budget.
“With regards to a Brexit bill, there is no Brexit bill; there are outstanding commitments that need to be paid and this is part of the negotiations but the travel costs are governed by our rules and are part of the annual budget which is publicly available.”