The electoral area that I represent covers 15 counties and close on one million constituents. I attempt to monitor 23 committees but four in particular – Environment, Agriculture & Rural Development, Fisheries and Econ (Economics & Monetary Affairs). To do this my office employs specific people to follow files coming to that particular committee, one for each of the committees that I closely monitor. These committees regularly take place at the same time.
A maximum fund of €250,000is provided by the parliament in order to facilitate this, out of which there are also additional expenses, such as paying for visits from constituents, paying the staff costs for the once monthly four-day trip to Strasbourg for the Plenary session, etc.
In total I have five full-time staff and one part-time. Four of those are Brussels based, pay their own accommodation and living costs here, along with the travel costs to and from home etc. On average then, their salary is less than €40,000/annum.
To put that in context: I have a staff of five, plus one other who is paid by the GUE/NGL group, who between them, and to try and stay on top of all the major issues coming from this place, are paid less than Phil Hogan. And the same Phil is one of those out here who, if left unmarked, will have the likes of TTIP down on our heads, causing further damage to the very industry whose interests he is meant to be protecting.
Is all of this a waste of money? On the Strasbourg trip, absolutely; on the rest, well, you be the judge.