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The European Parliament has splurged £900,000 of taxpayers’ cash to ensure MEPs and thousands of support staff have readily available COVID-19 tests. In a memo, seen by Express.co.uk, top officials pleaded with Euro MPs and their staff to keep details of the taxpayer-funded scheme secret from the public, many of whom have struggled to access tests during the pandemic. In Belgium, where the EU Parliament’s facility is based, costs vary between £120 for rapid tests to £43 for regular tests carried out by GPs, hospitals or laboratories.
Many locals have complained that they can’t get a test unless they are showing symptoms of the virus.
The “state-of-the-art screening centre” has an initial capacity for 200 tests per day for MEPs and their staff, according to an internal document.
Eurocrats promise “good air circulation” and that “ample physical distancing is ensured and all necessary hygienic measures are in place” at the facility.
The swabs have been made available to anyone, regardless of whether they are asymptomatic or have been in recent contact with someone with a positive test result.
As part of last year’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, UK taxpayers will pick up a bill for around £117,000, despite British MEPs having lost their jobs in January.
Euro politicians and their staff are encouraged to take two tests when arriving into Belgium from “so-called red zones”.
They are also allowed to request a swab if they are planning to leave the country for work or pleasure.
In Brussels, the public can only access a test if they are symptomatic after the authorities clamped down on the requirements.
Local governments have established special mass-testing villages where the test results are often returned after more than a five-day wait.
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Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said it was “scandalous” taxpayers’ cash was being used to provide special treatment for EU politicians and staff.
He said: “It’s scandalous that the European Parliament spends a huge amount of money on special treatment for MEPs and staff while tax-paying people across Europe find it virtually impossible to get a test.
“If you follow the money trail in the EU, you’ll find that it’s Brussels bureaucrats that are important and the European Union is a racket to take money off the taxpayer to give its employees a pampered lifestyle.”
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