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Front National: One hand in the pocket of Europe

Translated Wednesday 25 March 2015, by Paul Kelly

The European Parliament suspects that Marine le Pen’s party is using the EU budget to finance its activities on a national level.

A suggestion for a new FN slogan may be “Heads high, hands in the pockets of citizens”. The far-right party is suspected of fraud with regard to the salaries granted to its MEPs’ parliamentary assistants. Le Monde has placed the figure at 7.5million€. As of Monday evening, the Parliament has informed its fraud-fighting office; something the assembly explained it is obligated to do “as soon as there is any evidence of possible fraud”. At the same time, EU president Martin Schulz outlined the suspicions in a letter to French justice minister Christiane Taubira.

The “possible financial irregularities”, for which le Pen’s party must pay the penalty if proven, are in regard to salary payments for twenty assistants (the party has 23 MEPs). As many as ten of these gave their addresses on their work contract as “Rue des Suisses, Nanterre” - in other words, the address of the FN offices. A majority of these assistants are found among the FN rank and file, with existing party responsibilities (including advisors to Marine and Jean-Marie le Pen). European Parliament regulations stipulate that assistants’ work must be necessary “and directly relate to the parliamentary mandate of MEPs”. The same document states that “only the costs which arise from work directly linked to the MEP’s parliamentary mandate” may be charged to the European budget.

Now, in its press release, the Parliament explains that the assistants’ contracted job descriptions completely “differ from those in the National Front’s own organisation chart or on its website”. From there to the conclusion that the European authorities are financing the FN against their own interests, there is but one step.

FN: Taxing the taxpayer.

No sooner were FN made aware of proceedings than they responded vocally. The party president threatened to bring a complaint on the basis of unjustified slander. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen repudiated what she called a “politically motivated aggression”, accusing Martin Schulz of “slavishly following M. Valls’ orders” to attack the Front. In the view of party vice-president Florian Philippot: “At the base of it, Schulz is correct – our assistants are not working for the EU but against it”. With taxpayers’ money, if they can...

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