British MEPs are joining a 200-strong European parliament jaunt to Paris this week, costing the taxpayer up to £200,000.
The three-day trip, organised by the European People’s party (EPP), a centre-right group, will include dinner at the Palais de Versailles and a champagne boat trip down the Seine.
EPP leaders say it is an opportunity for MEPs to leave their normal Brussels working environment and “discuss security issues”. They describe the break as “study days”.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but isn't "discussing security issues" the kind of thing they normally do - or should be doing - anyway? Not that they're going to be doing a whole lot of discussing, in any case, unless maybe it's discussing whether the white wine is better than the red:
Details of the entertainment are not available on the EPP website but a leaked agenda sent to MEPs and staff reveals a whirlwind of sightseeing and entertainment. The fun kicks off on Wednesday with a two-hour lunch hosted by France’s ruling party, the Popular Movement Union (UMP), at the 18th-century residence of the president of the national assembly, the Hôtel de Lassay.
MEPs will then debate European defence policy for 2½ hours before being whisked away, with a police escort, from their luxury hotel on the Right Bank to a drinks reception hosted at the Elysée Palace by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president.
On Thursday they will attend a three-hour debate on energy, followed by a three-hour cruise down the Seine on Le Paquebot (billed as an “immense floating palace”), the largest boat available at the exclusive Yachts de Paris tour company.
The MEPs, spouses and staff will have a cocktail lunch of 22 hot and cold culinary specialities created by Jean-Pierre Vigato, a top Paris chef. Champagne, French wines and liqueurs are also on the menu. Those invited were reminded that “you may wish to bring a sun hat”.
Dinner that evening is at the Palais de Versailles, once the principal royal residence.
Next day there will be a three-hour debate on food security, before another buffet lunch, complete with wine.
So, from the details given above, it seems that they will be spending a total of about eight and a half hours on various discussions and debates. A normal working day, in fact, but spread over three days, and interspersed with plenty of opportunities for the poor overworked (those expenses don't fiddle themselves, you know) politicos to luxuriate.
Aren't we taxpayers generous?