EU lawmakers vote to increase budget for their assistants as colleagues demand tougher rules

European Union lawmakers have voted to increase the budget for paying their personal assistants, a 200-million-euro ($250 million) fund that critics say is ripe for financial and political abuse.

The vote Wednesday means the money available to the 751 lawmakers would rise to almost 23,000 euros per legislator per month.

But members of the influential budget committee want tougher rules before more money is spent.

Belgian lawmaker Gerard Deprez said "there can only be an agreement if there is a new system of rules that brings some order."

Almost 4,000 assistants work for EU lawmakers. Some lawmakers have none, most up to seven, and one has 43.

Lawmakers from the far right in France, Hungary and Poland have been accused of abuses but they deny the allegations.