EU shame: Ursula von der Leyen’s exorbitant salary exposed as Brexit talks stall

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson flew to Brussels yesterday for last-ditch Brexit talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The three-hour dinner ended once again without a breakthrough but another target date for progress in Brexit talks has been set. The pair agreed that negotiations would continue and a “firm decision” about the future of the discussions should be taken by Sunday.

Mrs von der Leyen said the two sides were still “far apart”, while Downing Street said “very large gaps remain”.

Time is running out to reach a deal before December 31, when the UK stops following EU trading rules.

Major disagreements remain on fishing rights, business competition rules and how a deal will be governed.

The dinner was seen as a last opportunity to work through the main sticking points, and for the two sides to try and find some common ground.

As the clock ticks down and tensions rise, an exclusive interview with Mr Maria Rinaldi has resurfaced, in which the prominent eurosceptic revealed the exorbitant salary earned by Mrs von der Leyen.

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The EU chief’s salary increased by just under €560 (£508) to €28,461 (£25,860) a month on her first working day in the top job in Brussels last December.

When this is matched with her tax-free allowances, she is likely to be making around €33,400 (£29,340) a month.

The 62-year-old officially took over from Jean-Claude Juncker on December 1, last year.

Mr Maria Rinaldi told Express.co.uk: “Italian parliamentarians and many MEPs cut their salaries in order to give a percentage to charities working on the frontline during the pandemic.

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“However, Ursula von der Leyen has not done anything about it, despite receiving an exorbitant salary.

Mr Maria Rinaldi added: “Even if she decided to cut her salary 20 percent, she would still have more than enough money to buy her groceries.

“She earns around €33,000-a-month.

“Sadly, right now, many European citizens cannot say the same thing.

“It is a slap in the face of poverty.”

The salaries of the EU Commission are paid from the EU budget.

The commissioners have to pay taxes on their income according to the laws of their respective home countries.

These taxes then flow back into the EU budget.

Pension contributions and contributions to social security such as accidents and health insurance are retained.

As well as receiving a handsome salary as a serving commissioner, ex-EU chiefs also enjoy a huge remuneration after they leave the post.

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Former EU bosses receive “transition payments” for up to three years after leaving the Commission.

Depending on how long they served, former commissioners can still receive payments of up to 65 percent of their former salaries.

Theoretically, Mrs von der Leyen would get a transitional allowance of just under €219,500 (£198,000) a year.

If she retires one day, she will, however, receive a pension of more than €4,500 (£4,088) a month from her job as Federal Minister alone.

The European Commission has previously defended the practice of remuneration payments.

European Commission spokesman Michael Mann said: “The aim of this system is to ease their return to the labour market, to maintain their independence after their time as Commissioner.”

It is not clear how much the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost currently earns.

However, in 2017, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier was earning £72,000 more than his then British counterpart, David Davis, and UK taxpayers were picking up a tenth of his salary bill.

At the time, Mr Barnier qualified for a pay grade of between £15,000 (€16,500) and £18,000 (€19,800) a month.

That put him on a gross annual salary of up to £213,000 (€234,000) a year – 65 percent more than the former Brexit Secretary’s £141,000 (€155,000) wage.

Unlike Mr Barnier, though, Mr Davis had to split his time between his government duties and representing his Haltemprice and Howden constituency.

Britons reportedly paid for 11 percent of the EU bureaucrat’s wages.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said at the time: “Unless our government calls the Brexit Bill bluff, the British taxpayer will be subsidising these ridiculously bloated wages for years to come.

“The situation is simply unacceptable.

“We have got to say, ‘We are leaving the EU and not a penny more for EU waste.’”

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