14 points against corruption: first reform package in the European Parliament goes not far enough
In response to the corruption scandal surrounding Vice-President Eva Kaili (S&D), the European Parliament will present an anti-corruption reform plan on Thursday (12.01.2023). Included in Parliament President Roberta Metsola’s (EPP) 14-point package are:
- cooling-off periods for former MEPs, so that they cannot take up lobbying activities immediately following their mandate
- a ban on so-called “friendship groups”, i.e. associations of MEPs that are in the interests of third countries
- a tightening of the guidelines for the publication of lobby meetings. In future, not only rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs, but all MEPs will be obliged to do so when scheduled meetings concern EP decisions. This should also apply to MEPs’ assistants and group staff.
- More transparency on MEPs’ side incomes and financial interests.
The reform package does not yet include the extension of the EU lobby register to third countries, the establishment of a special committee to deal with the “Qatar-Gate” scandal or detailed asset declarations by MEPs. These demands have long been made by the Greens, among others, and were reiterated today.
Daniel Freund (Greens), the European Parliament’s negotiator for an independent EU ethics body, comments:
“The European Parliament must respond comprehensively to the corruption case. All weaknesses that make the Parliament vulnerable to illegitimate influence must be eliminated. Reform cosmetics would not strengthen confidence in the European Parliament. There must be no more impunity in the European Parliament. If MEPs break the rules, there must be sanctions.”
“These first quick steps for more transparency as a protection against corruption are going in the right direction. Cooling-off periods for MEPs, the extension of the publication obligation for lobby meetings to all MEPs and an end to friendship groups are strong reforms we Greens have been calling for since years. If these rules are now quickly introduced and implemented, it would be a big step.”
“However, the reform package still falls short. Disclosure of MEPs’ assets at the beginning and end of the legislature is perhaps the strongest incentive against accepting bribes. Third-country lobbying belongs in the lobby register. A reform of the ethics rules must be comprehensive and public, for which a special committee is needed, not only the announced internal consultations of President Metsola with individual MEPs and staff. Employees of MEPs and parliamentary administration must be better protected as whistleblowers, not just informed about previous weak rules, because whistleblowers have proven to be the best alarm for rule violations.”
Greens/EFA called already in 2016 for, among other things, cooling-off periods for MEPs, mandatory publication of all MEPs’ meetings with lobbyists and stricter rules against the abuse of friendship groups: https://sven-giegold.de/en/green-plan-for-transparency-and-integrity-in-the-european-parliament/
All weaknesses that make the Parliament vulnerable to illegitimate influence must be eliminated.