General Court of European Union : The General Court confirmed the decision of the European Parliament to recover from Marine Le Pen almost €300,000 for the employment of a parliamentary assistant, on the ground that she did not prove the effectiveness of that assistant’s work.
Ms Marion ‘Marine’ Le Pen was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2017. By decision of 5 December 2016, Parliament decided that, for the period between December 2010 and February 2016, an amount of €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 corresponds to the payments made by Parliament for a staff member engaged by her as a local parliamentary assistant from 2010 to 2016. Parliament complained that she 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 Parliament. General Court took the following view while confirming Parliament’s recovery decision and rejecting in entirety Ms Le Pen’s arguments:
1. That the Secretary-General of Parliament is competent to adopt decisions to recover sums unduly paid pursuant to the Implementing Measures for the Statute of the MEPs and such decision by Parliament does not undermine the independence of MEPs;
2. That she was given due opportunity to argue her point of view, such that her rights of defence were not breached;
3. That it is for MEPs and not for 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;
4. That Ms Le Pen has not been able to prove that her assistant performed actual work for her; and
5. That she was not the subject of discriminatory treatment 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 Parliament. [Marion Le Pen v. European Parliament, Case T-86/17, order dated 19-06-2018]