How are the ministers’ travel expenses covered?

THE ECO SCAN – The code of ethics drawn up in 2012 and signed by the ministers provides that “only expenses directly linked to the exercise of functions are borne by the State”.

The to go to attend the final of the Champions League does not cease talking. Rules, sometimes precisely enacted under the influence of a controversy, exist however, which make it possible to see (a little) more clearly.

In 2012, just after the election of François Hollande as President of the Republic, a code of ethics was enacted and signed by all the ministers, which specifies the rules for supporting the travel of members of the government. This charter itself largely incorporates the circulars issued when François Fillon was Prime Minister. “Only expenses directly linked to the exercise of functions are borne by the State”, specifies the code of ethics. However, this rule does not fully apply to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. They can indeed use an official plane for private travel, for reasons of safety and responsiveness.

The Prime Minister must pay the price of his ticket

, the Court of Auditors specified these rules as follows, for the attention of the President of the Republic: “When you make a private trip, you have to use regular commercial lines and therefore pay your own money for the price of your tickets. and those of your family. During these trips, a number of officials make the trip on the same plane as you. [du personnel de sécurité, un médecin, un aide de camp… NDLR]. At the same time, an airplane accompanies you empty and parks discreetly near your residence ”in case a crisis requires an abrupt departure.

Insofar as the plane responsible for accompanying the president flies empty anyway, the Court of Auditors suggested that the president and all his staff rather get on it, in order to save money. The president is thus authorized to use an official plane for private use. But in this case, the Head of State will have to reimburse his travel expenses “on the basis of commercial rates”. On the other hand, he does not have to pay for the transport of his staff.

4,742 euros per flight hour

The same rules apply to the Prime Minister. This is explained by a related member of the PS specializing in the management of public money, at the Figaro: “The rules that apply to the President also apply to him, by extension. No text or decree establishes this situation, but it is the practice of the Republic ”.

In 2011, in the midst of the controversy over his vacation in Egypt, François Fillon explained that he had gone there personally with his family, aboard an Air Force Falcon and paid the amount of the tickets. corresponding. “The Prime Minister makes all his travels by plane on board aircraft of the government fleet, for reasons of safety and availability. As this is a private trip, his ticket and that of members of his family are billed to him out of his personal funds, at the rate set by the Air Force ”, specified that he had published at the time. In 2012, François Fillon reimbursed seven private trips to the tune of 6,955.70 euros.

Since the arrival of François Hollande at the Elysee Palace, however, another custom has prevailed. “When it comes to long-distance travel, there is a second plane in the event of an emergency, but it no longer travels empty. It carries officials and equipment, explains René Dosière. And when it comes to a short trip, in Europe for example, and the trip is made by private means, there is no longer a back-up plane. The president considers that the means to return urgently are sufficient ”. The custom continues nonetheless that the President and the Prime Minister are authorized, by custom, to continue to use an official plane for their private trips, however short.

The whole question, with regard to Manuel Valls, is therefore whether his trip was carried out privately or as part of his duties. If it was a private trip, the Prime Minister would have to reimburse the equivalent of the same trip on a commercial line for himself and his two children. That is, around 500 euros per person for a one-way ticket from Paris to Berlin, according to Air France prices. A cost little comparable with the few of the Falcon 7X used for its return trip to Berlin.

VIDEO – Political reactions to Manuel Valls’ trip to Berlin.