Until I started this blog, I haven't been an expert on small details of EU politics, and I am still learning. For example, until quite recently, I had never heard about the term "Quaestor".
So let's use the occasion of yesterday's election of the five Quaestors (in the last term there were six of them) to take a short look at this function whose role is defined by article 26 of the European Parliament Rules of Procedure.
This rule states that they:
"shall be responsible for administrative and financial matters directly concerning Members, pursuant to guidelines laid down by the Bureau."Let me first point to Grahnlaw who in February wrote an article about their legal background and some questions in this context. There is also a European Parliament sub-page on the College of Quaestors with some more details.
But most interesting is this interview (French video, ca. 5:30 min) with the ex-Quaestor Jacques F. Poos in which he says (quote from the translated transcription; my highlights):
"[T]he Quaestors are responsible for administrative matters that concern the MPs: everything regarding the financial modus operandi, allowances, travel expenses, as well as things to do with the activities of the European Parliament concerning visitors, publicity and the internal organisation, the allocation of offices among the groups, the organisation of exhibitions, events and so forth, which take place within the European Parliament.Taking into account that according to Grahnlaw they also issue the lobbyists' entry passes to the European Parliament, the Quaestors seem to have quite an interesting regulatory function that should get more attention by the outside world...
It is work that is not considered as a political activity, but it is clearly necessary since Quaestors have to take decisions on individual cases regarding disputes between MPs and the administration. This happens from time to time.
For example, they are currently playing a role preparing for the establishment of the new enlarged Parliament. Preparatory work is obviously needed in order that when our new colleagues arrive in early July, things are in order, they have their offices and everything is in place.
But perhaps the most interesting prerogative of the Quaestors is that they are members of the Bureau of the European Parliament and thus participate in the meetings of the Bureau, where all the policy regarding staff and buildings and so on is discussed."
Names and voting results of yesterday's elections
First round (absolute majority needed):
- Lidia Joanna GERINGER de OEDENBERG (Socialists & Democrats, Poland) 398 votes
- Jim HIGGINS (EPP, Ireland) 352 votes
Third round (simple majority needed):
- Astrid LULLING (EPP, Luxembourg) 306 votes
- Jiří MAŠTÁLKA (GUE/NGL, Czech Republic) 293 votes
- Bill NEWTON DUNN (ALDE, United Kingdom) 208 votes