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Germany Blocks European MP's Pay Reform

The controversial issue of the pay reform for members of the European Parliament (MEP) has been postponed until later this month after member states failed to reach an agreement.

Meeting in Brussels on Thursday, EU ambassadors broke off without agreement after Germany refused to lift its opposition to a new system which would see all parliamentarians getting a basic salary of €9053,32 ($11,300) per month. A German diplomat told the EUobserver that Berlin opposed the plans because setting the salary at such a high level "would be impossible to communicate in a positive way to people. We want to encourage people to participate in the [European] elections and at these times MEPs' salaries are always mentioned," continued the diplomat. However, German domestic politics also played a role. It is a difficult period just now as controversial health care reform has just been pushed through in the country meaning that its citizens have to contribute more to the state coffers for their healthcare - it is unlikely that they would take kindly to a hike in MEPs' salaries. More generally, concern has been expressed about where the European Parliament will get the between €80-100 million extra from the EU budget. Berlin is not convinced that it will be able to find the money. At the moment, MEPs get a salary in line with those of their national counterparts. This means that while Italians MEPs get around €12,000 a month, their Spanish counterparts have to make do with about €2,500 a month - colleagues from the new member states, meanwhile, get on average €800 a month. The whole matter will now be passed on to a meeting of EU foreign ministers on 26 January to if it can be resolved there. If the issue is not resolved before the June European Parliament elections, MEPs are likely to get an extremely hard time from their respective electorates as they try and convince them they are not part of the 'Brussels gravy train'. (EUobserver.com)

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