A report released by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International shows that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have declared that they collectively rake in a “whopping 8.7 million euros per year” in side gigs.

Considering that MEPs already earn around 120,000 euros per year, not including their allowances, the report is raising eyebrows and red flags. Transparency International says current rules fail to protect the “democratic integrity” of the bloc by allowing foreign governments to influence MEPs and providing no guidance to avoid conflicts of interest.

Problems for Democracy

The report reveals that MEPs are allowed to receive money from foreign governments and can use their roles as MEPs to generate additional income “outside their mandate” through activities such as board positions, running companies in the same sectors as their parliamentary activities, and more, pending that they declare their activities correctly.

MEPs are only required to declare side income above 5,000 euros per year. Moreover, they decide whether or not to declare their activities as shareholders or in business partnerships and judge if their roles “give rise to public policy implications or grant the shareholder significant influence”.

Following Qatargate and a host of other scandals at the European Parliament, MEPs were given the opportunity to tighten rules around side income, but chose not to, says Transparency International.

Fast Facts from the Report

  • One in four MEPs declared outside earnings
  • 82% of declared activities were Memberships on Boards, 5% were connected to participation in holding companies and 13% were other remunerated activities
  • MEPs from the center, right and far-right are more likely to have paid side gigs and make more money than those from the left
  • Non-aligned members have higher average side income due to one MEP from Lithuania called Viktor Uspaskich who make 3 million euros a year

Where Greece Ranks

According to the report, Greece ranks 3rd in terms of highest amounts of side income generated, after Lithuania (due to Uspaskich) and Malta. Not a single MEP from Cyprus declared side income, and Sweden and the Netherlands also declared the least amounts of side income.

Looking at the data in detail, Transparency International’s integrity watch tool reveals that while eleven of Greece’s MEPs have declared side activities, just two have declared additional income.

In other words, Greece’s 3rd place ranking on an EU level is attributed solely to Greece’s Social Democrat MEPs Theodoros Zagorakis (declared 91,450 euros) and Nikos Papandreou (declared 30,000).