By Justin Dunn
SUNDAY Sport was off on its travels last week – to the heart of the dreaded European Union.
I was dispatched to Brussels in an attempt to brush aside the propaganda and discover what REALLY goes on over there.
After all, like it or not, these people are now in charge.
More laws and directives that affect the way we live now come from Europe instead of Westminster.
I expected to find a glorified office building packed with wall to wall bureaucratic drones.
And I wasn’t disappointed – although what I also discovered was a HUGE and ever-growing mini-city that is a money-soaked shrine to a failing concept.
The staff of the European Parliament – which seems to be lots of leery old men and vastly more pretty young women from all corners of the continent – spend a lot of time chatting and walking.
But I was hard-pressed to find any of them actually WORKING.
And no wonder. NOBODY seems to be in charge.
The civil servants – some 40,000 of them – aren’t expected to clock on or off. And no one checks, anyway.
Long lunches in the subsidised bars and canteens are legendary, as are off-site slap-up meals in one of the city’s many Michelin-starred restaurants.
One of the most hotly debated local issues of the last few years was whether or not to install a swimming pool for the MEPs to use.
Security is so useless that there have even been ARMED ROBBERIES at the on-site bank!
But the most scary part is that WE taxpayers pay for it – and in the UK’s case, that’s a staggering £53 MILLION every single DAY.
My host in Belgium was Paul Nuttall, North West MEP and deputy leader of the UK Independence Party.
As I arrived, he told me: “You won’t believe your eyes in this place. It’s madness.
“They’ve been taking the piss for so long that half of them genuinely believe there’s a point to it all.”
Ukip wants Britain out of the EU, even though it would mean its MEPs like Paul would lose their jobs.
He explained: “We’re the turkeys voting for Christmas, basically.
“But someone has to. The European Union is too expensive and too pointless. We can’t afford it and we shouldn’t be in it.”
I WAS invited to Belgium by the UK Independence Party deputy leader and North West MEP Paul Nuttall, who was keen to see what Sunday Sport readers - taxpayers like all else - would make of what goes on there.
After all, British taxpayers are forced to hand over £53 million A DAY to help fund the European Union.
They have "f*** hotels" here - more of which later - but trust me, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Because while some Eurocrats are sneaking off for extra-curricular romps, their parliamentary colleagues are busy screwing those of us who pay for the whole thing.
Last week bank account holders in Cyprus were facing the desperate prospect of having their savings plundered by the EU in order to prop up the failing Euro.
But in Brussels – where the idea of stealing from innocent Cypriots was dreamt up – work continued on a brand spanking new and entirely unnecessary £268 million Residence Palace for European Council president Herman Van Pompuy.
Confused between the European Council and the European Union? Me too.
The EU is actually made up of seven obscure institutions – the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Council, the European Central Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors.
Nearly 40,000 people work for it and it’s fair to say not a single one of them will be worried about paying the gas bill this month.
And it’s all in Brussels, right?
Wrong. The European Parliament is bizarrely run from THREE countries – Brussels in Belgium, Strasbourg in France, and a third mostly unused “seat” in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg has two debating chambers that have never been used and more than 2,000 “administration” staff that no one seems able to explain what they actually do.
But their new HQ – which cost £716 million to build – has sports facilities and a pool to keep them occupied.
The three-seat policy means that the whole legislature, administrative team and thousands of support staff are shifted for four days each month and relocate from the Belgian capital to Strasbourg, nearly 300 miles away.
That means 754 politicians, their staff, thousands of lobbyists and journalists travel thousands of pointless, expensive, and very non-green miles every year just to keep all three countries happy.
A fleet of 20 juggernauts carries tons of paperwork between the two parliament buildings and the process wastes £135 million of taxpayers' money every year.
Paul Nuttall said: “The EU likes to publicly advertise that it’s a champion of green policies and has brought in policies that have seen energy bills rocket, transport tax rises and hard-hit companies taking their industries to far-flung foreign countries where they get clobbered much less.
“Yet the Strasbourg building is used for only 40 or so days per year and getting to and from it creates a staggering 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
“Of course when you point this out – like we do – you’re treated like some kind of criminal.
“The truth is, the EU is only in it for the people who work there. It’s a colossal gravy train earning people a fortune and that’s the only thing they’re in it for.
“They’re busy telling anyone who’ll listen how important the EU is, but the truth is more people want to be out of it than in it.
“As you’ll see, the hypocrisy on display here is breath-taking.”
MONEY NO OBJECT
WHILE the EU preaches austerity in a bid to protect its disastrous single currency, for the Eurocrats themselves money is quite literally no object.
More than 1,000 of them working here are paid more than UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s relatively modest £142,000.
The highest paid civil servants are raking it in, too. Those on the highest grade get a whopping £15,500 a MONTH – for a 37 hour week.
Normal Belgians earn half of the average worker at the EU and face a top rate tax of 50%.
Yet despite getting far higher wages, EU staff pay a special rate of tax of just 16%.
Their kids get FREE private education along with a £250 monthly allowance PER CHILD, and preferential mortgage rates from banks. The first car they buy is VAT free.
In the subsidised restaurants and canteens, half a lager costs just a quid - and you can have it for breakfast, too.
The Parliament also has a new massage parlour, a state of the art gym, and two saunas.
When I was there I saw another of my “local” MEPs from the North West – a Lib Dem - working terribly hard on the one of the gym’s dozen top-of-the-range treadmills.
Every evening around 6pm, there will be five or six champagne receptions taking place to promote one piece of hot air or another.
Champagne flutes clink as bottles and bottles of the expensive fizz – all paid for by the taxpayer – are poured down the necks of people who largely don’t know what they are even there for.
And get this – you can SMOKE inside the hallowed halls of the European Parliament.
All the bars and canteens have open-fronted bus shelter-style smoking booths. Sat at a non-smoking table six feet away, I was happily inhaling other people’s Marlboro Light fumes.
Many people smoke in their offices, too – not even slightly put off by the rare 300 Euros fine if they’re caught out by administrators.
DESPITE having 754 MEPs representing 500 million people from 27 countries, the European Parliament – the bit YOU are allowed to vote for – has actually very little power.
Instead, all decisions are made by the 27 members of the European Commission, housed in a fourteen-storey three-pronged building half a mile from the parliament complex.
The commissioners are all UNELECTED – instead they’re usually former politicians from member states like Britain who are appointed by individual governments.
Past British appointments have included Leon Britton, Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson.
All the 754 MEPs are there for is to rubber stamp whatever policies the European Commission dreams up and puts forward for the expected “yes” vote.
On the one in a hundred chance that parliament actually says “no” and rejects a policy, the Commission simply rewrites it a slightly different way until it gets the answer it wants.
As Ukip leader Nigel Farage said to me over lunch last week: “If voting actually mattered here, they wouldn’t let us do it.”
Further proof of how little say the MEPs have can be found in their massive main voting chamber in the Brussels complex.
The roof fell in a YEAR ago – and it’s still not been fixed!
THE F*** HOTELS
I’M standing in the drizzle watching business take place at Studio Intime, a dingy little nine-bedroom hotel smack bang in the centre of Brussels.
Throughout the morning a steady stream of couples wander a few yards across the road from their plush offices at the massive European Parliament building to use its services.
They enter under a canopy decorated in blue with yellow stars – the colours of the EU.
Then, for just over twenty quid, they hire one of its tacky perfumed rooms to spend the next two hours shagging each other’s brains out.
And needless to say, the couples are more often than not married to other people.
Welcome to the “f*** hotels” or “love rooms” of Brussels – just one of the many astonishing sights on show in the beating heart of the absolute piss-take that is the great European Project.
Another popular haunt is the Treviso Hotel on Place Stephanie where many of the EU’s well-heeled Eurocrats live.
It unashamedly advertises itself as a venue for couples “with room service and discretion assured” in more glamorous rooms than Studio Intime, rented out at £66 an hour.
There, Anne De Schepper, the hotel’s manager, says the parliament’s long lunch break is the preferred time of day for EU officials to commit adultery.
She said: “Eurocrats are 80 per cent of our business. Unlike the traditional hotel industry, we have not experienced the economic crisis thanks largely to the Europeans in Brussels.
“We are busiest at lunch time, followed by early evening in between the end of office hours and the time people need to get back to their homes.”
MEP – NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
NO wonder most MEPs are desperate to cling on to the European Union.
British MEPs are currently paid around £71,000 a year – as they’re paid in Euros, the amount varies depending on the exchange rate.
But on top of that they receive a no-questions-asked allowance of £36,000 a year for expenses, for which they have to provide NO receipts.
PLUS, for every day they attend the parliament in Brussels or Strasbourg they get an “attendance allowance” of £237 just for signing in.
Many do so and then immediately leave without having to do a scrap of work.
The MEPs’ chauffeured limousine service – a fleet of leather-trimmed, top of the range black matching Mercedes sitting glistening in a car park three floors beneath the parliament – costs an incredible £3 million a year.
In 2009, one MEP infamously took a limousine trip from Brussels to Berlin. Three others were ferried from Brussels to Paris.
They all travel first class and have access to business lounges at Eurostar terminals and airports across the continent – all paid for by you.
Paul Nuttall said: “We get treated like kings over here but back home no one knows who we are and no one’s even arsed.
“Yet still the gravy train keeps moving costing billions and billions of pounds, and for what?
“The whole thing is a disgusting, empty sham. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes, except it’s the taxpayers paying for it.”
IN MIDWEEK SPORT ON WQEDNESDAY: HOW THE EU WILL AIRBRUSH WORLD WAR II
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