Madrid, 27 January 2017 – A European Union spokesperson last night told Germany online publication Netzpolitik.org that the €63,126 that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spent on an air taxi from Turkey to Brussels in November 2015 was an emergency expense incurred the Belgian Air Force let them down on the planned flight home.
Commission Spokesperson Alexander Winterstein wrote to German FOI campaigner Arne Semsrott, author of an article about the campaign in Netzpolitik.org that: “The return flight of Presidents Tusk and Juncker, as well as the accompanying delegations, from the G-20 meeting in Antalya could not be carried out as planned by the Belgian Air Force. Therefore, two smaller air taxis had to be hired very quickly. The cost calculation is carried out according to the relevant regulations, which stipulate that the president will pay the majority of the costs (the remaining costs are borne by the other passengers at the amount of a Business class ticket).” [Translation by Access Info].
Netzpolitik.org have added this additional information to the original article.
Media reports at the time pointed to security concerns regarding the Belgian Air Force plane which resulted in another plane having to be chartered. See Reuters article here.
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info commented: “Whatever the precise circumstances were, the cost for the European taxpayer seems exceptionally high. But even more concerning than the elevated cost of this flight, is the reluctance of the European Commission over the past couple of years to provide us with this kind of information. The kind of secrecy fuels suspicions about whether or not Commission officials are being careful in the way they spend public funds.”
Access Info Europe is now seeking more information from the European Commission, including information about the normal arrangements with the Belgian Air Force, how much these services cost. We also asked for correspondence which might reveal more about how these arrangements work.
In a separate request, Access Info has asked for information about who else travelled from Turkey to Brussels with Commission President Juncker and how much each of these passengers paid for their business class-equivalent ride home.
For more information, please contact:
Luisa Izuzquiza, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
Andreas Pavlou, Campaigner and Researcher | Access Info Europe
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