(CN) – The president of the European General Court on Thursday refused to block efforts by the European Parliament to claw back nearly $700,000 from three of its members who used EU money to pay for local assistants.
Parliament members Jean-Marie Le Pen, Bruno Gollnisch and Mylene Troszczynski lodged complaints with the EU’s lower court to stop garnishments of their allowances. Parliament had deemed the members’ use of EU money to pay for assistants was unwarranted and ordered the garnishments.
In Le Pen’s case, the garnishments amounted to 50 percent of his monthly parliamentary allowance, 100 percent of his expenditures allowance and 50 percent of his subsistence allowance. Gollnisch has been seeing the same garnishments each month, while Troszczynski sees only her parliamentary allowance affected.
The three ministers also asked the president of the European General Court to step in and temporarily halt the garnishments while their case is being decided. On Thursday, he refused.
Specifically, the court’s president found that after weighing parliament’s obligation to claw back the funds against the members’ ability to carry out their duties, the garnishments do not alone keep the members from doing their jobs.
None of the members offered proof that the garnishments will keep them from their duties, according to the court’s president. And he noted Le Pen and Gollnisch can claim reimbursements for expenses incurred anyway, so as not to affect their legislative abilities.
Given the lack of urgency, the court president declined to suspend the garnishments while the case is pending – although the lawmakers have 60 days to appeal his decision to the president of the European Court of Justice.
The court president’s order is only available in French.