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The pension fund was open to MEPs between 1990 and 2009. Alamy Stock Photo

Up to 8 former Irish MEPs taking legal action against European Parliament over cuts to their pensions

The Journal contacted all MEPs who have previously been identified as recipients of the fund.

UP TO EIGHT former MEPs from Ireland may be involved in legal proceedings against the European Parliament over a decision it made to halve pension payments from a special voluntary scheme that they had signed up for. 

More than 400 MEPs in total have now moved to take legal action against the EU’s Parliament after the decision was made to cut their pension payments in order to reduce a huge deficit that had built up in the defined-benefit pension fund. 

The pension fund was open to MEPs between 1990 and 2009 because no other pension scheme existed for MEPs at the time. Between those years, more than one thousand MEPs from a number of different parliamentary terms joined the fund and contributed to it. 

For some MEPs, this would be the only pension that they would receive. 

The total sum of payments given to former politicians each year is in the millions, while the recipients of the fund are mainly anonymous. 

The Parliament last year agreed to halve the payments in an effort to reduce a €310 million deficit that had built up since the pension scheme was closed in 2009. 

The Journal obtained documents from 2014 that identify every MEP who was a beneficiary of the fund and contacted nine former Irish MEPs who were listed as members.

Only one responded. Former MEP – and current Commissioner – Mairead McGuinness confirmed to The Journal that she is no longer a member of the fund, nor had she received or will receive in future a pension from the scheme.

A spokesperson for McGuinness also confirmed that she is not part of any legal proceedings against the Parliament.

The remaining eight named former Irish MEPs declined to comment on the matter or have not replied to requests to confirm their status in the fund or in the legal proceedings. It is unclear if the eight who were listed as members in 2014 remained members of the fund, or whether any of them are involved in the legal action. 

The documents obtained by The Journal confirm that the same eight former Irish MEPs have received or are due to receive payments from the fund once they are 67 years old. The documents were leaked by German journalist Hans-Martin Tillak, through the Open Europe think-tank. 

The Financial Times has reported that the fund pays out around €20m per year to former MEPs, with an average pension of over €2,000 per month, rising to a maximum of €6,800 per month. 

In May 2023, the Parliament voted in favour of slashing these payments by half, in order to further reduce the deficit, increasing the retirement age from 65 to 67 and putting an end to the automatic linking of benefits with inflation. 

The Parliament previously moved to place a 5% levy on the voluntary pension fund in order to cover the deficit it had created.

These measures are estimated to reduce the €310 million deficit to approximately €86 million. 

As of February 2023, documents showed that the fund was due to pay out between €22-23 million per year until 2030. The total would later drop to above €10 million until 2047 and above €100,000 until 2073.

However, the Financial Times reported last year that the scheme was set to run out of money by the end of 2025. 

MEPs who have served from 2009 onwards receive a pension when they turn 63 which is equal to 3.5% of their salary for each full year in office.