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torek, 7 decembra, 2021

Sophie in ‘t Veld Was Paid Tens of Thousands of Euros for Accommodation in Brussels, Even Though She Has Been Living There for Years!

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv

In recent weeks, two Dutch politicians – Dion Grauss (Party for Freedom – PVV) and Theo Hiddema (Forum for Democracy – FVD) have been discredited due to their handling of parliamentary benefits. And now, with the upcoming European elections, questions have also arisen about the daily allowances of the leader of the Democrats 66 (D66) delegation, Sophie in ‘t Veld – in this case, the allowances were paid for her hotel stays, and in all of the years she has been receiving them, the amount could possibly reach up to thousands of euros, reports the Dutch media. Ton F. van Dijk conducted an investigation and found, among other things, that In ‘t Veld is the only person in the D66 delegation who does not pay income tax in the Netherlands. The Member of the European Parliament visited Slovenia last week to investigate the state of the rule of law, media freedom and corruption. It seems that it is high time for her to explain certain things.

Leader of the Democrats 66 delegation of the European Parliament, Sophie in ‘t Veld, received 27,840 euros in 2018 for expenses, including the cost of hotels in Brussels. This was a reimbursement specifically provided for the cost of living in Brussels during meetings. However, In ‘t Veld has been permanently living in the Belgian capital since 2005. This means that she is not required to pay for a place to stay while in Brussels, as she has her own apartment there. But then why did she get a refund?

Like all other Members of the European Parliament, the leader of the D66 delegation also receives a net allowance for her expenses of 324 euros on an official working day in Brussels or Strasbourg, two important meeting places in Europe. The European Parliament says the following about the allowance: “The European parliament pays out a flat-rate allowance of 324 euros to cover accommodation and related costs for each day that MEPs are in Brussels or Strasbourg on official business, provided that they sign an attendance register, which proves that they are actually present on that day.” The allowance is supposed to cover hotel bills, meals, and all other related expenses.

Sophie in ‘t Veld only received the 320 euros if she is present at a meeting in, for example, Brussels. IN this case, the compensation is intended, among other things, for an expensive hotel stay. A hotel in the Belgian capital is likely to cost 300 euros per night or more. According to the European Parliament, the register shows that the MEP is present at more than 98 percent of the meetings. In a written response to a question related to this matter, De Tijd wrote: “Regarding the number of meeting days you have added up: in 2018, she was present on 134 days, of which 47 were in Strasbourg.” This means that in 2018, the D66 MEP was registered as “present” at meetings in Brussels at least 87 times. In total, last year alone, this amounts to 27,840 euros of reimbursements of accommodation costs in her place of permanent residence.

To compare: three D66 MEPs, Marietje Schaake, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, and Matthijs van Miltenburg, use the allowance for what it is actually intended – because they live in the Netherlands and therefore often spend the night in the Belgian capital. Altogether, during her 15-year membership in the European Parliament, in’ t Veld therefore received a certain amount of money intended for her accommodation costs in Brussels, which may have amounted to more than four hundred euros net. And In ‘t Veld disagrees with the conclusion that she “earned tons of money” due to the generous compensation for hotel stays that she did not actually have to pay for, as she has her permanent residence in Brussels.

The leader of the European D66 delegation stated that she does have certain costs related to accommodation in Brussels. “As I have already mentioned, I have been living in Belgium since 1994. The daily allowance is a flat rate, and no justification is required in order to receive it (…) Of course, I have certain costs related to living in Brussels. The cost does not depend on what the official zip code of my permanent residence is (…) Therefore, your conclusion that I earned ‘tons’ of money that was not intended for my costs is wrong.” It is not clear from her reply what her actual costs are in Brussels, and what they amount to. She also explained that she spends the allowance on the costs of “living and working in several locations.” But is that really so? For general expenses incurred as a result of her parliamentary activities, according to the European Parliament, Sophie in ‘t Veld also receives an allowance for fixed costs of 4513 euros a month, in addition to the daily allowance of 324 euros. And in addition to all of this, she also receives a separate travel allowance for her working visits.

All of the above seems to bother the other parties included in the European Parliament’s D66 group. Mainly because In ‘t Veld does not pay any income tax in the Netherlands, in addition to receiving the generous reimbursements for the incurred “costs of hotels in Brussels.” The D66 MEP only has to deal with the limited withholding tax set by the European Parliament. And the only reason for this is the fact that she lives in Brussels. In ‘t Veld acknowledged the situation in her response: “Since 2005, I have had a house in Brussels. That is why I pay my taxes in Belgium.” As a result, she pays about 25 percent of the income tax. Regarding this, the leader of the D66 party said: “The Belgian tax authorities could have added additional duties to this, but they have not done it so far.”

The Dutch are heavily criticising the MEP on Twitter, calling her “an ordinary thief of the taxpayers’ money.” One Twitter user wrote: “The Dutch people support you, Mr Janša. Sophie in ‘t Veld is an ordinary thief. She stole tons of taxpayer’s money. Always aiming at others to hide her own failures and criminal activities.” Another user responded to this tweet, writing “True.”

Due to the fact that she permanently resides in a “tax haven” in Brussels, the eminent D66 politician has not contributed to the collective provisions in the Netherlands with her income at all in the last 15 years. The question, then, is this: as an MEP, what ties does she really have with her voters, who live in the Netherlands and pay their taxes? Here is what Sophie in ‘t Veld had to say about that: “I can be found in the Netherlands every week – on working visits, conferences, in political cafes, in debates, interviews, meetings with experts, companies or civil society, in party consultations and campaign activities (…) These visits are one of the main ways in which I keep in touch with what is happening.” The D66 politician who lives in Brussels, therefore says that she is mainly keeping “in contact” with the Dutch voters through her working visits, meetings with experts, and consultations with parties. It is not yet known what the D66 party will do with all of this information. In any case, for the time being, this has not yet led to In ‘t Veld being removed from the party’s list; after all, as the leader of the D66 party, she is also the face of it for the upcoming European elections.

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