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Le Pen must repay EUR 300,000: EU Court

Le Pen must repay EUR 300,000: EU Court

Marine Le Pen - Photo © European Union 2013 - EP

(LUXEMBOURG) - Former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen MEP must repay almost EUR 300,000 to the European Parliament, the EU's top Court confirmed Tuesday, for the employment of a parliamentary assistant.

The Luxembourg-based EU's General Court confirmed a decision taken by the European Parliament to recover the money from the far-right leader on the grounds that she had not proved the effectiveness of that assistant's work.

Ms Marion 'Marine' Le Pen was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2017. The Parliament decided in 2016 that, for the period between December 2010 and February 2016, an amount of EUR 298,497.87 had been unduly paid to Ms Le Pen in respect of parliamentary assistance and had to be recovered from her.

That amount corresponded to payments made by the Parliament for a staff member engaged by Ms Le Pen as a local parliamentary assistant from 2010 to 2016.

The Parliament complained that Ms Le Pen did not provide evidence of the existence of an activity of the local assistant linked actually, directly and exclusively to her mandate.

Ms Le Pen requested the General Court to annul the decision taken by the Parliament in respect of her.

By today's judgment, the Court has dismissed Ms Le Pen's action and confirmed the Parliament's recovery decision. The Court rejected the entirety of Ms Le Pen's arguments. In particular, it took the view:

  • that the Secretary-General of the Parliament is competent to adopt decisions to recover sums unduly paid pursuant to the Implementing Measures for the Statute of the MEPs;
  • that the possibility for the Parliament to decide to recover sums unduly paid under the parliamentary assistance allowance does not undermine the independence of MEPs;
  • that Ms Le Pen was validly put in a position to argue her point of view, such that her rights of defence were not breached;
  • that it is indeed for MEPs and not for the Parliament to prove that amounts received have been used to cover expenses actually incurred and arising wholly and exclusively from the employment of their assistants;
  • that Ms Le Pen has not been able to prove that her assistant performed actual work for her. She has not provided evidence of any activity whatsoever on the part of the parliamentary assistant that comes under parliamentary assistance, which she moreover acknowledged during the hearing. In particular, Ms Le Pen provided nothing proving that direct assistance was provided to her on the premises of the Parliament by her parliamentary assistant, whose mere presence – claimed but not proved – on Parliament premises is not sufficient to that end (the Parliament moreover having indicated during the hearing that it was not possible for a parliamentary assistant to enter its premises via the passage reserved for MEPs). In addition, while Ms Le Pen asserts that her parliamentary assistant had an official and actual residence at the residence of one of her friends in Brussels, it is a pure assertion as she produces no evidence capable of supporting her claims;
  • that Ms Le Pen was not the subject of discriminatory treatment or mistreatment, in view of the fact that she provided no evidence establishing that only MEPs of the Front National have, in the past or at present, been the subject of similar proceedings initiated by the Parliament.

Judgment in Case T-86/17 - Marion Le Pen v European Parliament

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