Magazine article European Social Policy

European Parliament : Meps' Assistants in Embarrassing Social and Fiscal Situation

Magazine article European Social Policy

European Parliament : Meps' Assistants in Embarrassing Social and Fiscal Situation

Article excerpt

A survey carried out in February 2008 by the European Parliament Assistants Association (EPAA) reveals serious problems concerning the social, legal and tax condition of MEPs' assistants, who still do not have a statute. EPAA approached 248 assistants, anonymously, during a five-week period. The goal was to obtain information on the situation of the 1,500-odd assistants accredited in Brussels and Strasbourg. The answers reveal that 45.2% of them are men and 54.8% are women. Two-thirds are unmarried. Some 44% of them are aged between 26 and 30. Almost seventy percent have employment contracts, 26% work as service providers and 4.7% have other types of contracts.

When questions concern more problematic subjects, the responses tend to raise evident problems. It seems that 69% of those questioned have a national or non-Belgian health insurance, which as a result does not cover the necessary care when the person is abroad to work rather than on holiday. Around 80% of assistants have national social security and only four people out of 248 say that they have a pension fund. "The results of the survey clearly show that there are still a considerable number of assistants without any type of insurance [ ]. It is a total contradiction of a social Europe' and this must be changed urgently," insisted the President of the association, Ruth Firmenich, in a note sent to all MEPs and assistants in early April.

Another sensitive subject is taxation. More than 83% of assistants pay their taxes in their home country while they live and work in Brussels, which "puts them in a very fragile grey area legally speaking regarding the Belgian tax authorities," continues Firmenich. The direct consequence is that a large number of these assistants are not registered with the town hall due to this legal vagueness. As regards salaries, the survey raises huge irregularities. The lowest was 600 net per month and the highest 5,200. …

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