EUROPE - Four senior conservative members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are set to launch a legal fight against European Parliament proposals to tackle a £106m (US$165.6m) deficit in its pension fund.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Sir Robert Atkins, Giles Chichester, a former European Conservative leader, Roger Helmer and Robert Sturdy have launched the case with 59 other retired or serving MEPs.
It is understood they want to protect themselves against money-saving measures announced by the European Parliament last year, affecting terms and conditions of their generous, publicly subsidised second pensions.
The scheme - which was closed to new entrants last year - has been the subject of reform proposals after the shortfall surged during the economic downturn.
The reform proposals tabled last year include:
• Raising the retirement age from 60 to 63
• Scrapping the option to take out 25% of acquired rights as a lump sum
• Ending the possibility of taking early retirement at a reduced pension
A spokeswoman for Roger Helmer told PP he had "nothing to gain" by blocking reform as he is already 66.
"However, Roger does believe that the EU Parliament should stick to the current set of rules," she added.
Helmer is expected to release a formal statement regarding his position on legal action later today.
The affordability of the current system has been widely criticised, especially after research by Open Europe revealed that all MEPs receive an annual pension of £27,954 by paying nothing (Global Pensions; June 4, 2009).
Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who is a beneficiary of the scheme, said: "Our constituents are being told by their own pension funds to expect a lot less than they had once been promised.
"MEPs must take the same kind of hit as the people we represent. It would be shameful to allow the use of public money to fill the hole created by the recession."
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